In an unprecedented move by a UK business-to-business title, Spa Magazine invited a group of handpicked spa journalists, with a consuming passion for all things spa, to take part in a frank and personal forum on the spa experience, with a focus on spa excellence, likes and dislikes.
The six leading spa journalists to reveal how they rate the spa experience with concepts that enhance the spa culture understanding for spa-goers, were;
Hellena Barnes, Group Spa Editor of The Verybest Spas Magazine and Spas-Weekly.Com international news website.
Newby Hands, Associate Director and Director of Health and Beauty at Harpers & Queen
Samantha Warwick, Associate Editor of Eve Magazine
Jo Foley, Author of Great Spa Escapes and contributor to national magazines and newspapers
Sarah Ward, Editor of Spa Magazine
Catherine Beattie, Editor of Spa Health & Beauty and successful spa books author.
Spa business and consumer journalist, Hellena Barnes, is Group Spa Editor of The Verybest Spas Magazine, and reports international industry news live each day at Spas Weekly.Barnes had this to report for the Spa Forum:
SPA EXCELLENCE IS….
Given that the true definition of spa can mean many things to many people - I am a great believer in that the ultimate spa experience is all about ‘whatever does it for you’.
From city skyline spas to rural retreats - a good spa creates a place of perfect harmony, where personal service and attention to detail are paramount, where talented teams understand that being ‘in-tune’ with your therapist is as important as the therapy itself.
What appears to be clear, however, is that the ultimate spa experience essentially restores, revitalises and relaxes the person as a whole - mind, body and soul.
Having said that, quite frankly, it really doesn’t matter where you are, or indeed what treatment you have - just so long as it takes you on the journey you need to travel at that particular moment in time.
Balance, balance, balance - as boring as it may seem - it’s what it’s all is about for me right now. From having your feet felt to being at one with the universe - the entire spa ethos, I believe, should be allowed to be just whatever it is for each individual - which is why I am quite happy that we have not yet standardised the quintessential spa experience.
If we’re talking the UK day-spa market, then I would have to say that it seems to be the smaller details that bother regular spa-goers at some standard spas…You know the kind of thing; having to put a deposit on your spa robe, having to proclaim to the world at lunch what ‘package deal’ you are on in order to ascertain whether guests are entitled to a glass of champers or a simple salad bowl. Quite honestly, doing this midway through a serene spa-day just makes people unnecessarily uncomfortable.
My suggestion to the industry would be; if you need to work in this way - why not allow some anonymity for your package people? A simple badge should do it. I would truly like to see this area of the UK market change - we need to embrace a new generation of British spa-goers, not embarrass them.
Whilst I don’t want to knock the day-spa business (far from it) I am delighted that it has come so far - but the obvious back-to-back, 25-45 minute treatments just don’t do it for me. By the time you’ve disrobed, settled on the quickly replaced, rough-paper couch, had a scrub-down, showered it off and thanked the therapist, you’ve forgotten to relax. Apart from anything else, it must surely diminish the therapist’s spiritual sense and physical ability?
This is a tough one for me, because, as twee as it might seem, I absolutely love all aspects of the spa industry, and my spa experience is so cross-cultured that it would be almost impossible and unfair to try and differentiate between the loves of the Caribbean, European and American spa market. So I will go on a personal level; I love that I can undress, unwind and find what feels like a moment in time of infinite space and being. I also love the fact that I can now, almost immediately, appreciate my connection with a true therapist - a spiritual spa experience is something incredibly special. I love the spa experience outside in a warm climate - it somehow seems to enhance the ‘at-one-with-nature-thing’. I love to try gorgeous spa products, especially those indigenous to the area, I love to steam, sauna, swim and wallow in natural springs - and I adore floatation.
As a Brit; what I truly love is that the spa ethos is advancing beyond the realms of what is perceived to be acceptable - most certainly in the UK. Let’s face it, if we are still worrying about paper knickers and whether our bum looks big in them, then a true spa experience is never gonna happen…
ESSENTIAL DETAILS THAT RAISE THE SPA EXPERIENCE TO ETHEREAL HEIGHTS
By their very nature, good spas are situated in some of the most spectacular places on the planet, but wherever the setting, they should all embrace the same concept - inner wellbeing, personal peace, and a sense of space and beauty. Many of the world’s first-class spas have awe-inspiring, well-researched treatment menus that offer everything from beauty basics to exceptional wellbeing packages.
I am always truly excited when they embrace the power of water healing with pioneering treatments and ground-breaking concepts that have the potential to restore a unique sensory awareness. For me the bigger picture is phenomenal; spas can, without doubt, create unforgettable experiences, provide the opportunity to take true time-out and explore inner ideals - but ultimately, they have the potential to change lives - how fantastic is that?
Sarah Ward, Editor of Spa magazine for Beauty & Health Publishing in the UK concludes; “Spa magazine is essential reading for all UK spa professionals - and the cream of industry decision-makers worldwide. Distributed to over 9,500 expert readers, Spa is both a practical and an inspirational bible for the modern spa industry. Bi-monthly, the magazine`s editorial mission is to keep you in touch with what`s happening right now as consumers in their thousands embrace spa concepts to enhance their lifestyle and wellbeing. Our fine-tuned mix of international spa news, facility profiles, treatment and equipment analysis and business-to-business interviews will keep you in touch with all the innovations of the spa community at this exciting time of unprecedented growth.”
Sarah Ward can be contacted at