Spas Venture Outside the Box

Meeting PlanningTrends

New trends include art sessions, farm-fresh beauty and floating meditation

If you’re a spa lover, you’re likely also a trend watcher.

To uncover and indulge in the latest trends, you could venture to the world’s most luxurious spas and retreats This would not be an unpleasant pursuit. But if you’re like most people—a little short on time and accustomed to being pampered on a tighter schedule—you might just want to ask Julie Keller Callaghan.

She is editor and publisher of American Spa. When it comes to trends—spas, health and wellness, treatments and skin care—she’s an expert.

We asked Callaghan about three of the hottest trends this year: art and creativity, farm-fresh beauty and floating meditation.


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These aren’t tough subjects for Callaghan to discuss. All three therapies appear on American Spa’s 2017 trends to watch.

“Nowadays, a number of ‘trends’ truly have their roots in practices that have been around for decades, if not hundreds or thousands of years,” Callaghan says. “It just goes to show that wellness therapies and modalities that really work do have tremendous staying power.”

Here’s a closer look at the three trends, what they do and where to find them.

For Mind: Art and Creativity

Picture a box of crayons. Picture a sheet of paper. Picture yourself picking up a crayon and drawing on the paper. Picture yourself doing this as an adult.

“It is becoming more and more apparent that wellness is something that goes well beyond skin deep,” Callaghan says. “Encouraging creativity and embracing the arts can do wonders for expanding mental horizons as a way to encourage health and wellness, and spas are certainly in an excellent position to help.”

Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group introduced a digital-wellness program in its spas that encourages guests to unplug from their wired lives. Guests can color and draw, or write in a journal, for instance.

“Our main goal is for guests to take a break from the digital world to relax and reboot,” says Osa Mallo, director of spa and wellness at Mandarin Oriental, Miami. “Upon arrival, we ask guests to surrender their cellphones. We want to remind them what life is like when they’re not staring down at their phones.”

The hotel offers Digital Wellness Retreats, with a full range of programming. Guests in the daylong sessions practice yoga, play Tibetan singing bowls and engage in mindfulness exercises. If they get thirsty, they can sip a detox juice. A related program—the 80-minute Digital Wellness Escape—focuses on head, eyes, neck, shoulders, hands and feet—the body parts that digital devices affect the most. Therapists send guests off with tips for maintaining digital balance in their lives.

Guests might feel relieved to retrieve their cellphones. They’ll find them in cellphone sleeping bags, which the spa provides gratis.

For Body: Farm-Fresh Beauty

Farm to table dining—locally produced food delivered to your chef and, in turn, to your fork—is nothing new. But not all farm ingredients are destined for your mouth.

Enter farm-fresh beauty, a spa trend that takes all that’s right about the freshest ingredients and applies them to your skin.

“Sustainability is becoming the norm in many aspects of clients’ lives, from food to clothing and more,” Callaghan says. “It’s not surprising that skin care and beauty are part of this. Consumers are concerned about what they ingest and what they put on their skin.”

Texas-based Farmhouse Fresh is one of a growing number of companies that turns to farms—including its own—to find fruits, vegetables and milks to fuse into a smorgasbord of beauty treatments. “If it’s harvested, snipped, stirred or baked, we’re inspired to bring the beneficial ingredients to life through skin care,” the company says.

Waldorf Astoria Park City in Utah tapped the skin care company’s products for one of its farm-fresh beauty treatments. It starts with a body scrub infused with organic vodka, raspberry extract, sugar and rice-bran oil. An avocado mask and citrus-cilantro body oil follows. Not every farm-sourced ingredient ends up on clients’ skin, though. Treatment is topped off with a raspberry mojito.

For Soul: Floating Meditation

The demands of your career likely prohibit you from floating through the day. That doesn’t mean you can’t float at night.

Floating meditation is designed to allow you to drift away from the sort of preoccupations associated with stressed-out land dwellers.

“Flotation therapy is a way for people to disconnect and reach a meditative state, something more people are craving,” Callaghan says. “Float aficionados say that they are happier, calmer, more centered and more relaxed after a session, which is something that pretty much everyone can appreciate.”

It takes the proper ingredients to float your meditative boat. Solage Resort & Spa in Calistoga, California, would seem to have them, including a 98-degree geothermal mineral pool, balmy weather and a night sky free of “light pollution.”

Clients wade into the water after dark and settle into a sort of floating hammock.

“It’s typically a private experience, or for a couple or a small group of friends,” says Helen Brown, executive director of spa at the Napa Valley resort. “The instructor stays out of the water and walks you through a guided meditation.”

That includes breathing exercises to calm the mind and guided visualization to deepen focus. The spa pipes in music for “a thoughtfully chosen auditory experience,” Brown says.

The 45-minute sessions end with a cup of tea.

Brown notes that floating meditation provides benefits that clients can carry from the spa to the workplace—a return on investment that includes enhanced creativity and the ability to think outside the box.

“People are looking for ways to justify their activities,” Brown says.