In recent years, the wellness industry has been growing more rapidly than ever. At the same time, the focus of spas has shifted from beauty to overall transformative well-being, creating a new set of tendencies that will be driving the spa world in 2019.
Northern Europe—on the forefront of spa innovations—has already been embracing some of the trends of the upcoming year.
“This year, we have been observing the 'back to nature' spa trend," says Kęstutis Ramanauskas, Director of Health Resorts in Druskininkai, a Lithuanian spa town with centuries-old wellness traditions. "We often hear from our guests that their spa hotel choice depends on the proximity to a forest and the type of natural treatments it can offer. We believe that in 2019 this trend will keep evolving and people will crave nature as a source of well-being, both in their surroundings and their treatments.”
According to spa and wellness experts in Druskininkai, these are the five main trends they expect to see growing in popularity in 2019:
1. Going on a long spa-cation. The new trend is to go on vacation to a spa hotel and enjoy daily treatments. Spa centers offer holiday packages and best deals for those who are willing to stay for more than few days, luring more people into trying new procedures. Spacations can include active leisure, health-promoting exercise packages and authentic dining experiences. The Aman Spa at Aman Le Melezin in the French Alps offers exclusive packages of ski passes, pre-ski yoga sessions, dinners, and spa treatments for those staying at the resort for 3 to 6 days. Hotel Kalevala in Finland has a selection of packages that consist of massages, saunas, and baths combined with snowmobile safari trips and other exciting activities.
2. Forest bathing. Shinrin-Yoku is a Japanese practice of forest bathing known to open up the mysterious power of a forest and use it for therapy and healing. This therapy, which includes taking long walks in the forest, is expected to become popular around the world in 2019, as people are taking a more proactive and holistic approach toward their health. Forest bathing is proven to reduce cortisol levels, alleviate depression, relieve stress, and have a positive effect on blood pressure. Japanese forest bathers often go to Chubu-Sangaku National Park, where they can choose whether to immerse themselves in nature completely or combine it with leisure in one of the park’s ski resorts and hot spring centers. Druskininkai, the spa town in Lithuania, is known as the “lungs of Lithuania” thanks to magical pine tree forests surrounding the town. Visitors to Druskininkai have plenty of opportunities for forest therapy—they can ride bicycles through the pine tree forests, enjoy the forest adventure park UNO, or relieve stress by taking a walk in K. Dineika wellness park. Druskininkai is located far from heavily urbanized areas, and forest bathing therapy is one of the most popular activities in the town.
3. Spas for children. Over the past few years, children have been following the example of their parents and embracing spas—and this is not going to stop. According to the International SPA Association, more than half of the almost 14,000 spas in the US offer packages for families, teens, or kids—and Europe is following close in their footsteps. Children-friendly areas are taking over spa centers—from specialized kid-friendly saunas to salt therapy. A variety of procedures are designed to keep children entertained while they are getting healthier. Even beauty procedures can be adapted to children’s needs. In Austria, Grand Resort Bad Ragaz is home to a spa area where adults can share wellness and beauty procedures with children. Its kids spa menu includes honey and chocolate massages, manicures, and a ‘happy feet’ procedure. Inhalations, salt cave sessions, apitherapy, facial masks, and fruits baths—these short duration treatments are included in Spa programs for children at TAOR-Karpaty, a Ukrainian hotel and wellness complex.
4. Heat and mud are popular again. Hammam beds, mud therapy, saunas—ways to relax and rehabilitate that have been around for hundreds of years—are becoming increasingly popular because people are rediscovering their health benefits. Innovative spa centers are turning these procedures into luxurious and unique experiences by supplementing them with locally grown herbs, essential oils, and top-quality cosmetics. For a traditional hammam bed ritual and more than 20 saunas, spa lovers should head to Druskininkai's recreation and health center Aqua, connected to FLORES Hotel and Spa and Druskininkai health resort. The center offers the widest range of procedures that integrate natural ingredients and traditional treatments—everything from therapeutic mud applications to gold rituals. Infrared saunas, which don’t heat the air but warm the body from the inside out, are also rising in popularity. Here, heat penetrates more deeply, resulting in more intense detoxification, relaxation, improved circulation, and clear skin. Kulm Hotel St. Moritz in Switzerland features special 30-37 C infrared cabins.
5. Precious metals and stones used for treatments. Healing qualities of precious metals and stones—such as silver, gold, pearls, and amber—are being rediscovered. They will be increasingly used for health and beauty procedures. Silver ion baths are said to improve well-being and skin tone. They also relax the body and mind, reduce fatigue, and restore the energy balance. Amber releases amber acid into the environment when the right temperature is reached, affecting the nervous system and relieving stress. Gold keeps skin radiant and can even treat various skin diseases and infections due to its antibacterial qualities. Even in affordable Turkish resorts, such as Aqua Fantasy in Izmir, people can try massages with gold powder and essential oils. Amber—often called Lithuanian gold—is widely used for wellness routines in Eastern Europe. Spa centers in Lithuania like Grand SPA Lietuva invite their guests to try amber massages, applications, and scrubs. After the rejuvenating procedures they can even try amber tea—a drink that fills the body with warm powers of this stone.