Jessica Meath, Executive Director of the Hot Springs Association, on the rise of thermal bathing

Jessica Meath

The Hot Springs Association’s Executive Director, Jessica Meath, talk about the rise of thermal bathing culture and what’s behind it.

The Hot Springs Association is a non-profit trade organization for hot springs owners and operators with a mission to unify and elevate the hot springs resort and spa industry worldwide. The Association fosters a collaborative community through networking, guidance, and advocacy for water stewardship, best practices, and excellence in wellbeing experiences. Creating connections to experts, tools, and individuals with similar experience ensures streamlined and sustainable success for members, their communities, and the industry.

Jessica Meath was appointed the Hot Springs Association’s Executive Director in October 2023. 

With an extensive background in the hot springs industry, Ms. Meath’s depth of experience and leadership skills uniquely position her to guide the organization into its next phase of growth. 

We spoke with Jessica Meath about the Association, the rise in interest in thermal bathing, and the benefits of taking the waters.

What trends are you observing in the popularity of thermal bathing in recent years? Has there been an increase in popularity?

Yes, there has definitely been a reinvigorated interest in hot springs over the past several years. More and more people are seeking out and planning trips around hot springs as well as incorporating them into routine wellbeing practices. 

What do you think is driving this?

People are interested in wellness, therapeutic, and immune boosting experiences that provide connection with themselves, nature, and others. Hot springs provide all of those opportunities in a very immersive way. They also tie into other popular wellness practices like contrast therapy. Many facilities are installing cold plunges to complement the hot water along with other diverse wellness offerings.

How do you see the role of hot springs evolving in the broader wellness tourism and hospitality industry?

Many hot spring properties are incorporating additional wellness offerings on site such as aqua yoga and sound therapy. As well as guided experiences to maximize the health benefits of hot springs, including sleep programs.

What are the key health benefits of thermal bathing that you think should be communicated more widely?

Though there is a large list of specific health benefits, perhaps the key take away is the value of the overall well being experience. The surrounding environment, variations of unique mineral compositions and how often you soak can all be factors in receiving benefits from hot springs. These all contribute to why we simply feel so much better after soaking.

Are there any challenges currently facing the hot springs industry, and how are they being addressed?

Primitive hot springs are seeing a direct impact from overuse. Many have implemented a permitting system, and when management is not available some have been forced to shut down to public use. Developed and well managed hot springs sites allow people to soak safely and sustainably. 

Can you discuss the economic impact of hot springs tourism on local communities?

Hot springs continue to be one of the most popular search terms when it comes to travel and wellness. Since they are enjoyable year-round they are an excellent attraction for communities because they provide sustained visitation regardless of the season.

How do you see technology playing a role in the future of thermal bathing and wellness travel?

With information being so accessible and easily shared in this digital era, technology can play a role in planning and education. The site is an example where location, information, and education streamline the search for your next hot springs visit through mapping, tailored search features and inspirational content.

Can you share insights on how different cultures around the world embrace and interpret thermal bathing?

There is a deep history of bathing in every culture rich in geothermal mineral water. Many are rooted in spiritual and health practices. In Japan, for example, onsens are revered for their therapeutic properties and spiritual significance. It is a daily practice for many to take the waters. In Europe balneology, the study of therapeutic bathing and medicinal springs, is so widely recognized that doctors often prescribe soaking at hot springs resorts, and costs can be covered by health insurance.

The historical and traditional utilization of hot springs in the U.S. encompassed aspects of health, wellness, and sacred significance. While recreation has dominated the focus in recent decades, there is now a resurgence in acknowledging and embracing the traditional use of hot springs for enhancing health and well-being.


To learn more about the Hot Springs Association, visit


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