Step inside the spa

Step inside the spa

With the Covid-19 pandemic putting health and well-being in the spotlight, Amanda Barrett, associate at KCA International, talks about the latest trends in luxury spas.

Focus on world-class facilities
Spa experiences are shifting from brief treatments in a single room to “wellness journeys.” The post-pandemic consumer is looking for a holistic experience that isn’t limited to a body relaxation massage but explores innovative techniques of facials, body scrubs, lymphatic drainage treatments, infrared saunas, contrast therapy, acupuncture, the use of aromatherapy and anything that stimulates circulation. Guests are constantly seeking new experiences, new treatments and new ways of experiencing them. The characteristic elements of a spa (sauna, shower, relaxation area, etc.) are being transformed into ever-changing products. Through the synchrony between images, ambient lights, perfumed essences and music, the classic elements of the spa acquire a new personality, are continually renewed and are able to surprise. Wellness centers are even provided with cutting-edge equipment for a bespoke spa experience. I recently completed a spa at the Address Beach Resort in JBR, with massage beds offering a combination of multilayered sound waves and power showers designed to awaken the circulatory system with a warm water rain massage.

Spa as a wellness destination
Nowadays, spas are becoming destinations themselves, attracting inhouse guests and local communities. As a result, owners and hotel operators are requesting greater emphasis on the interior design and selection of materials: high-end finishes of marble, custom mosaics and artworks are recurrent elements as guests expect even higher standards. This attention to detail in what guests can touch, feel and experience begins as soon as they enter the spa and follows through the rest of the space to create harmonious experiences Spas generate revenue for the hotel, much like F&B outlets, so owners are willing to allocate a higher budget towards these areas.

Incorporating mental wellness
In an increasingly stressful world, people are investing more in their mental and physical health to achieve a well-balanced life. Spas are no longer seen as places to restore only the body. One of the new objectives of the modern spa is the reconnection of body-mind-spirit, which can have a profound effect on one’s health.
Traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic methods have become even more popular thanks to the way they connect mind and body. They look for the source of the problem, not just the symptoms. Spas continue to develop and grow, with acupuncture and reflexology now in vogue. Designers need to take note of these needs and anticipate them while structuring the spaces and choosing the mood within. We all know that the way different colors can affect emotions depends largely on the brightness, shade or tone. Designers need to take into consideration these elements when preparing mood boards. In my latest project, particular attention was paid to colors of the sea in the very early morning. A subtle teal hue was thus brought into the design.

Safety is still the number one rule
Safety, hygiene and touchless solutions continue to define 2021, and most likely will do so in 2022. We have learned about social distancing and isolation.
Spas need to be planned and designed as places to reset, recharge and renew, adapting their settings to comply with regular inspections and to meet new protocols.
All areas have to be constantly disinfected, with proper hygiene and hand washing regimes in place. Staff should be encouraged to wear masks and gloves, which they should change between each client. Hand sanitization stations and HEPA air purifiers are common almost everywhere.
A good interior designer must keep these elements in mind and incorporate them and foresee the spaces without this interfering in the use of the area by the customer. To ensure compliance with the precautionary guidelines, treatment room preparation time between each guest is now longer than before. Spa treatment rooms, which are contemporary in design, can help minimize the additional time needed to set up. Cantilevered vanities make it easier to clean the floors, sleek counter tops are unfussy and easy to wipe down, while marble and tile finishes ensure deep cleaning can be accommodated several times a day.
We are forever changed by our experiences with Covid-19, and a balance between the mind, body and spirit is now even more important. Lifestyles that embrace and focus more on healthy living help to alleviate stress, and physical relaxation in a spa setting contributes to this journey and to a well rested mind.

Amanda Barrett

Amanda Barrett,
Associate at KCA International

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