NEW YORK -- Spa business is growing by leaps and bounds, according to the 1999 member survey conducted by the International Spa Association.

The survey shows the number of spa visitors increased by 16% compared with 1998, with an average of 33,000 annual visits per spa, translating to about 90 visits per day.

The industry now totals $12 billion and is estimated to grow to $27 billion by 2004.

The spa business is changing in the U.S., where it is becoming more and more important for hotels and resorts to feature spa facilities.

In fact, in a recent survey by Pompano Beach, Fla.-based Health Fitness Dynamics, which plans and manages spas for hotels and resorts across the country, 81% of resort and hotel guests reported they chose a property because it featured a spa.

The Betar Bed uses sound waves to relax guests at the Sanibel Harbour Resort & Spa in Fort Myers Beach, Fla. "We are in the spa business," said Holly Porter, director of Hyatt Resorts' Spa Hyatt division. "You have to be."

The Spa Hyatt division encompasses all of the company's spa facilities in the U.S. and the Caribbean. The division hopes to feature 18 resorts by 2002.

The last 18 months also saw the emergence of the branding of two spa names: Canyon Ranch, with the launch of the Canyon Ranch SpaClub, and Golden Door, with the rebranding of several spa facilities as Golden Door spas.

The Canyon Ranch SpaClub at the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas is Canyon Ranch's first full-service spa and fitness facility outside of its own destination spas in Tucson, Ariz., and Lenox, Mass.

Nearly two years ago, Patriot American Hospitality, the owner of Grand Bay Hotels & Resorts, purchased the Golden Door Spa in Escondido, Calif., along with its name.

Patriot wanted the name to be associated with Grand Bay properties, so a plan was incorporated to make all Grand Bay property spas into Golden Door resort spas.

The firm also has urban spas in the planning works.

Another trend in the industry is the use of indigenous ingredients in treatments.

These days, more and more spas are tailoring treatments to their region.

Several resorts offer high altitude massages to combat the effects of the altitude; others offer apres ski treatments to soothe sore muscles.

A popular treatment across the board is a hot stone massage, using smooth, volcanic river rocks that are heated in water.

The rocks are then placed on the body in a pattern to heat muscles in preparation for a deep-tissue or Swedish massage.

Other unique spa treatments include the following:

  • The Betar Bed at Sanibel Harbour Resort & Spa in Fort Myers Beach, Fla. The treatment uses sound waves from selected music and relaxing lighting to ease tension away.
  • Aura imaging at Aqua Sulis spa at the Resort at Summerlin in Las Vegas. The treatment involves photographing and analyzing the guest's aura and then choosing an appropriate spa treatment to balance the body's seven "chakras," or points of physical or spiritual energy on the body, according to yoga philosophy.
  • The treatment is completed by an "after" aura photograph to see the effectiveness of the chosen treatment.

  • Raindrop Therapy at the Arizona Biltmore Spa in Phoenix. Using an American Indian technique, the treatment involves dropping nine essential oils, such as soft raindrops, over the entire body in a specific sequence and working the oils into the body and muscles.
  • The Color Energy Bath at the Fontana Spa at the Abbey Resort in Fontana, Wis. This treatment uses the energy in each of the seven colors of the spectrum.
  • The guest chooses a specific color, based on the personality trait/energy he or she wants to experience.

    A bath is then drawn in a whirlpool tub using the chosen color in the water and an essential oil that coincides with the specific energy.

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