2024 Spa & Wellness Trend: thermal bathing

thermal bathing

It’s time to look a the trends and developments that will rock the spa & wellness industry in 2024. Here’s one in our series and stay tuned for our upcoming guide: 7 SPA & WELLNESS TRENDS FOR 2024: A HOSPITALITY HANDBOOK

The buoyant enthusiasm for thermal bathing has been attributed to an increased consumer desire to connect with nature and with other people.

Thermal bathing has seen a surge of global interest in the last few years. The Global Wellness Institute tagged this growing trend in 2022, and Spa Business did the same, covering developments in thermal bathing in New Zealand, Australia, and the US, where, the magazine stated, the hot springs scene was “on fire.” And this one looks like it’s still growing.

The buoyant enthusiasm for what is commonly referred to as “taking the waters” has been attributed to an increased consumer desire to connect with nature and with other people – probably related to the isolation many endured during the COVID pandemic. Bathing in hot springs and warm pools is largely a social activity, and many industry thought leaders did indeed predict that communal activities would see a surge when restrictions were lifted.  

Record breaking visitation numbers at thermal bathing sites

Vicky Nash, executive director of the US Hot Springs Association told Spa Business that about 50 hot springs projects were in development in the US at that time. “There’s definitely a renewed interest in hot springs properties,” she is quoted as saying. “These past two years, health-conscious consumers have been utilizing geothermal pools and baths in greater numbers, seeking more natural immune-boosting activities and many resorts have recently experienced record-breaking visitation numbers.”

The tradition of taking the waters has a long history, with examples like Turkey’s Pamukkale, Italy’s Abano and Montegrotto, Hungary’s Kiraly Bath, Slovenia’s Terme Dobrna, and the UK’s city of Bath, where we now find the Thermae Bath Spa. Some of today’s well-known thermal spas include Iceland’s Blue Lagoon, Germany’s Therme Erding, Japan’s Kusatsu Onsen, and many more.

New builds & restorations

Renowned spas around the world are seeing new life, including Tuscany’s Grotta Giusti Thermal Spa Resort. After it was acquired by Marriott, the historic 19th Century property underwent a two-year-long resort-wide refurbishment, reopening in 2022. Located in Montecatini Terme, Grotta Giusti boasts an underground thermal cave thought to be 130 million years old, the largest in Europe, renowned for its healing properties. With newly refreshed spa, guestrooms, restaurants, and hotel bar, Grotta Giusti offers a variety of bathhouse-style experiences, including Roman baths, saunas, and experience showers. The highlight is the thermal cave, divided into three areas of varying temperatures. Additional treatments, changing rooms, and a spa garden are part of the expanded spa experience. 

North America, meanwhile, is warming up to the wellness ritual with older spas undergoing renovations and transformations and new locations emerging in the US and Canada. Among the US spas undergoing renewals are Murrieta Hot Springs Resort. Set to open in February 2024, the Southern California spot has been closed to the public for 30 years. Visitors will have access to more than 50 geothermal pools, water features, and cold plunges, a “mud loft” and panoramic sauna. Spa treatments will be inspired by the minerals in the geothermal water, abundant agricultural region, and mud bathing history. 

And Canada’s Fairmont Lake Louise, in Banff, Alberta, is building a state-of-the-art, eco-friendly well-being thermal wellness facility. Construction on the facility, which is located on the site of the hotel’s previous outdoor pool – which was built in 1926 and closed in 1980 – began in 2022 and it will open to the public in 2024. The space will feature a steam ritual, a sequence of vitality pools, saunas, a room dedicated to exfoliation and rinsing, and a lounge serving food and drink made with locally sourced ingredients to create “dishes that complement a soul awakening.”

New projects in Canada and the US include:

Circle Wellness Granville Island, Vancouver: Circle Wellness, already a popular Vancouver spa, opened a second location in 2023. The private self-guided thermal experience combines ancient wellness rituals with modern technology for an immersive healing experience. The Circle is a circuit that includes a shower, soak, Welpod (an immersive and multi-sensory room designed to promote physical and emotional well-being), cold plunge, and bed of stones. 

SKA City Thermal Spa, Calgary: SKA, “Calgary’s only urban thermal spa,” opened in 2022 offering indoor hydrotherapy with a combination of hot and cold facilities and a full line-up of wellness treatments. SKA offers evening “social hours” featuring “a more lively environment for guests to socialize, celebrate or simply take part in conversation with friends.” 

Forena Cité Thermale, St Bruno, Quebec: Forena Cité Thermale  is a massive complex at the base of Mont Saint Bruno, offering bathing circuits and massotherapy, thermotherapy, and aesthetic care inspired by Icelandic, German, and Russian traditions. The Cité opened in 2020, right before the COVID shutdowns. 

The Spa at Séc-he, Palm Springs: The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians opened The Spa at Séc-he at the Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza in 2023, located at the tribe’s sacred hot mineral spring, adjacent to Agua Caliente Casino Palm Springs. Séc-he translates to “the sound of boiling water” in the Cahuilla language, and the springs are sacred to the tribe, which has been their steward for generations.

Mysa Nordic Spa, St. Peters Bay: Mysa is Prince Edward Island’s first and only Nordic Spa & Resort, located on St. Peter’s Bay and featuring 17 water-view accommodations, top tier food and beverage services, and a state-of-the-art thermal spa. Mysa features an 85-person thermal bath, Aufguss ceremonies, and a wide range of spa and relaxation services including essential oil steam rooms, cold water plunges, a Finnish sauna, meditation sessions, and massages.

With its compelling blend of health and wellness benefits and the appeal of community experience, thermal bathing’s resurgence in popularity will likely grow in the years to come. 


Spa Executive is published by Book4Time, the leader in guest management, revenue and mobile solutions for the most exclusive spas, hotels, and resorts around the globe. Learn more at book4time.com.

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