Spa Partners Blog

Partner News, Information and Inspiration

Archive for July, 2011

Spa Evidence Message from Susie Ellis

Dear Partner,

Please step with me out of the dark ages into the light!

Evidence for spa therapies is now clearly accessible through the recently launched website, The development of this website/portal was an initiative undertaken by a group of dedicated spa professionals, including several esteemed doctors. Unveiled at this year’s Global Spa Summit and thanks to the generosity of the sponsors, it is now available to everyone for free!

Through this portal you will find a list of 22 spa and wellness therapies and by clicking on any one of them, you will be able to discover the research behind those therapies via four medical databases: Natural Standard, Cochrane Collaboration, PubMed and TRIP Database.

Does massage help with stress reduction? Does acupressure relieve nausea? The answer in both cases is yes, and now, instead of just hoping that what you read is true, you can actually find the exact research studies that were conducted that support these conclusions. You will also learn that some therapies do not have as much research data to back them up. This however, does not mean they aren’t valuable – just that more research needs to be done, something we can then encourage. In addition there are some therapies, like ear candling, that have almost no research at all proving positive results; that’s important for us to learn as well.

Trust me that you will be encouraged and empowered as you spend more and more time on I am very excited about this development as it will be a real “game changer” for our industry. It is my sincerest hope that you will check it out and find it as inspirational as I have.

Very best,

P.S. It is possible to “White Label” this website meaning that it can be incorporated into your own website as SpaFinder has done here. Please contact Kathrin Nikolussi at for information on this option. For the option to simply link to the website, please contact .

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Seen & Heard: World’s First Tickle Spa

Laughter is the best form of medicine, right? Well, one spa is taking the saying to new heights with the world’s first tickling spa now open in Spain, reports.

Cosquillearte, which opened in Madrid in December, is truly taking the spa concept and thinking out of the box. The spa offers half-hour and hour sessions for $35 and $45 respectively in its two treatment rooms, where guests can lie down on a massage table…and be tickled. The name of the spa, Cosquillearte, can be translated to “tickle yourself” or “tickle art,” says.

Photo courtesy of Cosquillearte Spa

“My dad used to tickle me to get me to go to sleep, so it’s always relaxed me,” owner Isabel Aires, who developed the treatment with two trained massage therapists, said in the published report. “One day I just thought, why can’t I pay someone to do this, in the same way as I can pay for a massage?”

“There’s no school for tickling,” she said. “We had to invent it ourselves.”

With an environment much like many other day spas, the treatment takes place in a darkened room, with soothing music playing and a hint of incense in the air,’s Lisa Abend reports.

“The client disrobes, puts on a pair of crinkly paper panties and lies face-down on the table,” Abend, who describes herself as extremely ticklish, explains. “And then the tickling — first with fingertips drawn along the body, then a feather — begins.”

“We use a variety of strokes,” therapist Lourdes Nieto told “If someone is super ticklish, we’ll press harder. The idea is to relax them, not stress them out.”

Abend, while extremely ticklish, confirmed that the treatment is in fact relaxing and reports that most everyone seems to leave happy – and hooked.

Now, even countries as far as Latin America and Russia have started to inquire about Aires’ tickle spa. She has started the process of setting up franchises and is also negotiating an agreement with a Spanish hotel chain to offer in-room treatments, says. Now, with the hot summer heat in Madrid, Aires is working on developing a summer treatment with cold hands, Abend reports.

We love how this concept broadens the scope of the day spa industry. Have you heard of any spas or do you offer any treatments that stray from the conventional offerings? If so, we want to hear about them!

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Laser Hair Removal Proves Popular in Summer Months

Pushing laser hair removal services, especially during warmer months, can potentially drive sales, as warmer weather lends itself to an increased popularity for hair removal procedures.

With day spas integrating summer treatments into their menus, medical spas are also seeing a seasonal trend with a heightened interest in laser hair removal, especially in Southern California, according to Dr. Richard Foxx, medical director and founder of The Medical and Skin Spa at the Hyatt Grand Champions Resort, Villas and Spa in Indian Wells, California. The Hyatt Grand Champions Resort, Villas and Spa was named one of SpaFinder’s 2010 Reader’s Choice winners for Best Medical Spa Program.

“People want to feel confident and comfortable about their appearance during the summer, because they are wearing more revealing clothes such as swimsuits or shorts,” Dr. Foxx says. “That’s why the interest in cosmetic treatments like laser hair removal or Botox® Cosmetic in Southern California usually increases during this time.”

Dr. Foxx uses the CoolGlide® Laser made by Cutera® at his medical spa for hair removal procedures. This highly sophisticated laser equipment is FDA-approved and can treat a variety of skin tones. In contrast to many other lasers, CoolGlide is effective on all parts of the body, including the face, legs, arms, underarms and back. In addition, it can be used on more sensitive areas, such as the bikini line. Each session lasts between a few minutes to an hour or two, depending on the size of the area being treated. Usually a series of treatments are needed to provide the best results, but once complete, the effects can be permanent.

“The CoolGlide laser that we offer at The Medical and Skin Spa is undoubtedly one of the most effective methods of permanent hair reduction available,” Dr. Foxx notes. “It’s a simple, comfortable procedure that requires no anesthesia, no downtime, and has minimal side effects.”

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Peter Thomas Roth Debuts Amenity Collection at Hilton Hotels

Travel just got even more attractive for beauty-lovers. Hilton Hotels & Resorts recently debuted its new in-room bath amenities developed by the innovative and results-oriented Peter Thomas Roth Skincare line. The specially created Mega-Rich™ Hair & Body Collection (not available for retail until Fall 2011) is vitamin-infused and simply luxurious.

PTR was selected by Hilton as brand of choice among approximately 50 others. The exclusive products are expected to roll out to all 540-plus hotels and resorts in 76 countries by December 2011. Until the Mega-Rich™ retail launch, you can visit Hilton to Home to purchase − in full sizes!

The PTR products available in-room at Hilton Resorts and Hotels include Mega-Rich™ Shampoo, Conditioner, Body Lotion and Body Wash, plus a Moisture Infusion Facial Bar and Massaging Bath Bar.

We’ve noticed more and more hotel spas are opting for known names when it comes to in-room amenities, recognizing that it says something about how they convey their brand and treat guests – essentially a marketing tool. Four Seasons Maui offers L’Occitane products; Villagio Inn uses Molten Brown; and Mandarin Oriental Boston offers Aromatherapy Associates.

Does your property use a recognized product line or a proprietary product line? How do guests respond?

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Getting Creative with Your Getaway Promotions

Let’s face it, everyone loves a great deal or special offer.  Online group-buying deals have exploded onto the global scene, and the old-fashioned “deal” has transformed into a hip online industry, with sites like SpaFinder’s SpaRahRah!™, Groupon and LivingSocial leading the way for spa/wellness deals.

What can this mean for you? For starters, the potential for an expanded customer base, as millions of people are trying new spas and experiences they might otherwise wouldn’t  had there not been a “50%-75% off.”

But with so many deals out there, it also brings the added pressure that consumers are expecting truly original promotions. Creating the right deal to promote to clients and rev up your revenue can be, well, a real deal breaker.

Get creative with your spa packages, by offering inspiring promotions that are timely, innovative and attention-grabbing. Here are just a few ingenious travel offers that recently caught our eye:

Travaasa\Austin: Sizzlin’ Summer Package – Friends Stay Free!
with the reservation of the Sunrise Package, one lucky friend gets to tag along. Offer amenities include fresh breakfasts, yoga, archery, Texas Two Steppin’, and more. Limited availability; weekday rates starting from $189.

Topnotch Resort and Spa: Run Away Today Elopement Package
This all-inclusive elopement package, open to all couples, includes a ceremony against the backdrop of the verdant green, mountains, Justice of the Peace services, turndown service at night, a $100 spa credit, gourmet dinner for two and more. Topnotch markets this promotion on its website to the LGBT sector, recently recognized in the state of New York, and includes a photo (right) of a same-sex couple. Priced at $1,500.

Greenwich Hotel: Extraordinary Value on a Two-Night Wellness Retreat at New York’s Luxury Hotel
An unforgettable weekend or two-day retreat for two at this luxury hotel in downtown Manhattan—an  extraordinary value—includes daily breakfast, poolside yoga and two 60-minute signature Drunken Lotus massages.  Priced at $1,295.

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Making Your Spa Kid/Teen Friendly

More spas are catering to a younger clientele, as parents aim to teach their little ones the benefits of a healthy lifestyle at an early age and studies show that being a kid doesn’t necessarily mean being stress-free. A 2009 study by the American Psychological Association reported that 30 percent of tweens (ages 8 to 12) and 42 percent of teenagers (ages 13 to 17) suffered from headaches, possibly related to stress, according to a New York Times article earlier this year. However, only about one-third of their parents were cognizant of this fact.

In completing some research, I have found that the kids in today’s society are just as stressed as their parents,” says Maggy Dunphy, spa director at Stowe Mountain Lodge and the brainchild behind the resort’s Chillax KidSpa. “Taking the time to stop, do nothing and get some pampering is a positive avenue to allowing children to de-stress.  After realizing what was happening in the world, we felt the need to create this special environment for the kids.”

Cecilia Hercik, director of spa sales & operations at Spa Grande at the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa agrees. “Visiting a spa is a lifestyle decision to nurture your soul and restore harmony to your body; parents are becoming more aware of this by making health and well-being a priority in their family,” Hercik says. “As a parent myself I’ve pondered about ways of passing this spa living philosophy to my children.” So in 2005, Spa Grande debuted a complete menu of spa, salon and fitness services specially designed for the wellbeing of kids and teens – which helped the spa recruit multi-generations of family spa-goers.

If your spa is not equipped to cater to a younger clientele, consider a few simple improvisations:

1)      Create a kid-tailored treatment menu, even if it’s just a few offerings: Grande Wailea’s Keiki Spa (ages 6-12) features delightful Chocolate-Coconut Scrubs and Wave Massage with warm lava stones, while its Teen Spa (ages 13-17) highlights the Mud Body Wrap. Suggest making it a family affair by booking Spa Grande’s Family Spa Suite for the Malama ka ‘Ohana package.

2) Reserve a designated family area: Schloss Elmau Luxury Spa & Cultural Hideaway is known for housing more than one spa (four separate spas, to be exact!), which includes the Family Spa, designed with a 24-hour indoor swimming pool, six saunas, relaxation areas and tea lounge. In places such as the Pinehurst Resort’s kid spa, children check in at the reception desk of the Spa Grand Lobby.

3)      Set aside family spa nights like Solace Spa at Boyne Mountain. The spa celebrates its younger guests with mini treatments and yoga class so parents can share healthy lifestyles with their children.

4)      Use spa and exercise as a learning tool for wellness: If your spa has a fitness center, consider offering child-friendly wellness classes like yoga and meditation. At Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, home of the whimsical Spa Voyage Kidz Spa (ages 5-15), education and relaxation are one in the same. Children are transformed to the “rejuvenating jungle,” “enchanted Arabia,” and “Paradise Beach,” while experiencing mani/pedis, haircuts and styles, massages and facials.

5)      Provide childcare services: Select spas like Grand Geneva Resort and Spa feature complimentary childcare during certain appointments.

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Are You Serving Up Healthy Spa Cuisine? We Want to Feature You.

Does your spa serve up some tasty, nutritious dishes? Have a fabulous chef you’d like to highlight? We invite you to dish!

Send us a recipe (and a photo if possible) of one of your signature dishes for possible inclusion in our Club Spa e-newsletter or our monthly SpaFinder Recipe e-newsletter. All recipes should be emailed to SpaFinder’s Food Editor Amy Sung, at

We encourage dishes that are healthful and not too difficult to follow, so send us a taste – main dishes, desserts, soups, salads, or whatever you fancy!

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Australia to Test Botox for Asthma

Botox, most frequently injected into areas of the face to diminish wrinkles, will be injected into the voice box of asthmatic patients as a part of a study at the Monash Medical Centre in Australia for its potential use in helping ease their symptoms.

While we heard about the studies behind Botox for migraines, this trial is the first of its kind in the world. Spurred by a recent survey by the university, which found that about half of severe asthmatics suffer problems with their voice box as well as their lungs, the study will include 30 participants and will span a year, beginning in a few months, the Telegraph reported. The problems discovered in the survey were similar to vocal cord dysfunction, which causes abnormal movement of the voice box muscle, a condition which Botox has been used to fix.

The trial will explore the idea that the Botox will relax the muscle that controls the voice box, which may allow for asthma patients to breathe easier.

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Before & After: Seeing Virtual Results

In the past few years, there have been a few plastic surgery iPhone apps introduced in the marketplace, such as Plastic Surgery Dr. 90210  from Simoni Plastic Surgery, Shafer Plastic Surgery App, Body Plastika, and the more game-like iSurgeon. Joining the crowd is Allure Medical Spa’s newly introduced app, designed to help prospective plastic surgery patients visualize their outcomes.

Boost Your Beauty, an iPhone app, includes before and after photos, but it also features a visualization tool that allows prospective patients to upload a photo to see how various plastic surgery procedures will change the way they look. With a swipe of the finger you can shrink your waist or give yourself a nose job. Results can also be shared with friends when you’re done altering your photo.

An instructional section of the app features slideshows with information on various surgical and non-surgical procedures, such as eyelid lifts, liposuction, and varicose vein treatments.

Have your patients have tried apps such as these before coming in for a consultation or medical spa appointment? What do you think about them – are they handy or harmful when it comes to a prospective patient’s expectations?

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Market Summer-Centric Treatments to Reel in Hot & Tired Clients

Sweltering summer temperatures are a perfect excuse to get off of the street and dip into a neighborhood spa for an escape, so offering summer-specific treatments can be a great way to attract new clients and tempt loyal customers with services they haven’t tried yet.

While New York City’s Oasis Day Spa offers their perfectly seasonal Cold Stone Massage year-round, highlighting the quick and refreshing 30-minute treatment from June to September would be a particularly savvy strategy. Most basic spa treatments, like fast and fresh facials, massage, and manicure and pedicure services are great for summer because while clients are busy flitting from one outdoor activity to the next, they’re also looking for the perfect place to take a break, cool off and recharge when the heat gets to be too much. Advertising summer specials like massage services that incorporate cooling elements like cold stones for the body, refreshing citrus products for the skin and calming ingredients like aloe in facials for clients who have been scorched by the sun is a great way to show clients that you’re catering to their current needs. Your spa doesn’t have to offer contrast therapy or a cold grotto like New York’s Aura Wellness or an Arctic Ice Room like Las Vegas’s Qua Baths and Spa at Caesars Palace, simpler summer-centric offerings can be just as enticing.  Get inspired by some summery treats, like The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa, which offers floatation experiences like the Vanilla Float, an hour-long treatment that incorporates a decadent vanilla and shea-butter wrap—perfect for hydrating parched skin. Me! Bath products have been popping up on spa menus, including the Hyatt Spa’s Kid’s Menu, in super sweet, sundae-inspired services like ice cream manicures and pedicures!

Simply adding some summer-infused services or ingredients, or marketing your existing treatments from a seasonal angle,  is a great way to expand your client base and freshen up your menu for the hot summer months when everyone is seeking extra relief. Do you offer any summer treatments? Let us know in the comments!

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