TREND 1: What’s Old Is New Again: Self-Service, Touchless Bathing Circuits Hit Their Stride
In addition to the myriad of technology solutions you can expect for touchless, automated entry/exit and contactless check-in/out, there will be a greater emphasis on hydrothermal areas that deliver evidence-based wellness without trained therapists or with very minimal staffing. Hydrothermal bathing’s healing properties have been part of human health for thousands of years. Medical studies show regular use helps to improve the immune system; treats hypertension, cardiovascular disease and arthritis; and, crucially, improves the respiratory system (especially combined with salt inhalation therapy). We expect a greater appreciation of the ROI that this delivers in a post-COVID world, and, as the lines between wellness and medical continue to blur, we believe “prescriptions” for hydrothermal treatments will become commonplace.
Cardiovascular and Other Health Benefits of Sauna Bathing: A Review of the Evidence: https://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(18)30275-1/fulltext
Recovery from sauna bathing favorably modulates cardiac autonomic nervous system
Halotherapy in Patients with Cystic Fibrosis: https://clinmedjournals.org/articles/ijrpm/ijrpm-2-009.pdf
TREND 2: Cultural Interest in Sweat Bathing Grows
With a worldwide craving for immunity-boosting, community-building activities, and a Netflix documentary called “Perfect Sweat” hitting the airways in 2021, more people will rediscover their native sweat-bathing cultures—at an appropriate physical distance, of course. From Finnish saunas, Russian banyas and Islamic hammams to central Europe’s sauna aufguss, Mexico’s temescals and the Inuits’ sweat lodges, expect locals to flock to these sources of health, and once travel picks up, there’s sure to be aficionados seeking the next-best sweat experience.
TREND 3: At-Home Wellness Sanctuaries on the Rise
Residential hot/cold contrast therapies will become more common as shelter-at-home directives continue to rule our lives. Many regular spa-goers are missing their regular “fix” of thermal bathing and want unfettered home access to combat quarantine stress and up their immunity. We are seeing full spa suite installations in residential homes on the rise—driven by technological advances, making equipment smaller and easier to install. In addition, spas will educate guests on how they can indulge in contrast therapies at home without any extra investment. For example, cold foot baths combined with hot showers will be “prescribed” for at-home use, as will the benefits of mineral additives for tub bathing.
TREND 4: Cleaning, Hygiene and Guest/Staff Safety Front and Center!
In a pre-COVID world, cleaning was considered “unsightly” by operators. In our new reality, there’s no doubt that visible cleaning protocols will be the order of the day! Not just signage and in marketing materials but also staff cleaning while guests are in the spa. It goes without saying that sterilization and disinfection of every aspect of any thermal cabin or inhalation apparatus are imperative to keep private and public hydrothermal areas safe. Guests will also need to take responsibility, not just for their safety but also that of other guests and staff—more handwashing and sanitizing and no more skipping showers before using hydrothermal areas or going into a treatment room.
TREND 5: Larger, Roomier Thermal Cabins, Staggered Entries
We were already seeing larger saunas and steam rooms pre-COVID, as many spas began using these areas for treatments and events. For example, the 500-square-foot hammam at Faena Saxony Hotel and Spa in Miami Beach might be the most social distancing-friendly hammam in the USA. Until things return to normal, these larger rooms will help spas manage physical distancing. In addition, they will be enforcing staggered entries to coordinate the volume of people in these communal areas.