The Science in the Hotel Spa Conversation

By Jacqueline Clarke Wellness Research Director, Diagonal Reports | July 02, 2017

Around the world there are many new conversations happening in spas. Science is a key issue that helps sell spa treatments in many of these new conversations. The arguments, that we set out here, have been distilled from the many thousands of spa conversations that we in Diagonal Reports have researched and analyzed in different countries, among them UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the USA, and China.

Science has been part of the spa, and the in-spa conversation for a long time. Indeed, you might say that the modern spa is built upon science and scientific arguments. The modern spa industry is built on science in that the very treatments, that were key to launching and to scaling this industry, originated in the many different "scientific pasts" that the modern spas of today lay claim to. Today these born-in-science treatments are synonymous with, and also iconic of, the spa. One such treatment is a beauty treatment, and another is a wellness treatment. The beauty treatment is medicalized skin care, and the wellness treatment is massage.

The beginnings of, what we refer to here as, the modern spa industry date to the turn of this century and this millennium. Those years saw the pioneers of the spa industry beginning to develop a new type of offer in both skin care and beauty, and in wellness and self-care that still today defines the spa. When the spas first exploded into consumer consciousness they were developing a new business model that offered services new - exotic even - to most consumers.

Spa is Born in Medical Science

One of the service categories for which spas became famous - or infamous-was the cutting-edge medical beauty services. Among them was the first generation of recently invented non-invasive skin rejuvenation procedures and products. The most famous example would be the dermal injectable, Botox, that was first approved for off label use by the US FDA in 1989. Other examples of innovative skin care would be the devices for non-surgical face lifts. The new skin treatments offered results that previously had only been available to those who could afford cosmetic surgery offered in medical settings. In making these treatments more widely available spas were the pathway and bridge to a mass market.

The first spas to offer the new aesthetic treatments became so closely identified with the high end medical beauty that a new term, that of the "medi spa", was invented to describe the new businesses.

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