Spa Executive, October 2019: What is a spa?

What is a spa? We found ourselves asking this in this month’s issue of Spa Executive (October) when talking with Trent Munday of Mandara Spa about the future of spas and wellness, specifically tackling the question of whether spas have to incorporate “wellness.”

“Wellness is a concept the spa industry has latched onto as our latest shiny new thing,” said Munday, but it’s not something spas have to do. Munday believes that the Spa of Tomorrow will be a multi-functional, multi-disciplinary type of facility — 20% what it is now (massage, facial, etc.) and 80% something else, which could be anything. “Maybe a business center or coworking space in a corporate city hotel,” he said. “Maybe a live, organic restaurant, kitchen, and cultural center in a remote resort hotel. The 80% is not only different from what we have today, but can vary dramatically from one spa to another.”

This leads to the question “What is a spa, anyway?” Munday points out that there is still a debate over whether a spa has to have water elements to qualify as a “spa.” Mineral rich water for bathing was once the single defining factor of a spa. Now, we seem to agree that it’s massages, facials, and other treatments that make a spa a spa. But are you still a spa if you are largely a business center that offers massages and facials? Munday says, “Why not?” 

What do you say? What do you think makes a spa? It’s worth thinking about as our industry moves into this future where anything is possible, and exploring where we can take our businesses. There may be no right answer. But it’s a great place to start.

Roger Sholanki, CEO

Spa Executive, October issue:

Spa Executive Magazine