Wellness - Hyatt Regency Seragaki Island Okinawa Resort

European Spa Market – Overview, Trends and Careers

balibisa Spa Careers, Spa Industry, Wellness Leave a Comment

Overview of the European Spa MarketEuropean SPa Market - Popular Spa Treatments

The European spa market continues to be the world’s largest due to its relatively higher average revenues. Technavio’s market research analyst predicts the European spa market will grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of close to 9% during the forecast period.

The major growth driver of the European spa market is the increasing focus on health and beauty and rising expenditure on relaxation through services such as massages and facials. Massage continues to be the major revenue-generating segment in spas as most people opt for this service during their visit to spas.

With the growing health and wellness trend among the people, several European spa market vendors have come up with a diverse range of services that will promote healthy living. Many spas have also hired certified on-call experts who offer nutritional experts in sync with one’s individual lifestyle. Also, the growing collaboration with cosmetic players will further contribute to the growth of the spa market in Europe. Spas are partnering with cosmetics giants to improve their product portfolios and generate consumer interest.

European Spa Market - Popular Massage Types


The European spa industry in is focusing on offering personalized therapies to customers to enhance their treatment outcomes. Clients are asked to identify specific skincare concerns and can choose the kind of treatment they want such as calming, healing, balancing, and re-energizing. Some spas are also providing variations of a set treatment, such as replacing a relaxing essential oil with a revitalizing one depending on the client’s needs. For instance, the Mandarin Oriental spa offers customized Time Rituals, where the clients can reserve a 2 or 3-hour window to receive customized treatment.

Competitive Landscape and Key Vendors in the European Spa Market

The European spa market is highly fragmented, with both local and international players coming up with innovative services and product offerings to cater to the wellness requirements of customers. The opening of new spas has compelled several vendors to focus on strategies to increase their market shares and profit margins. A key strategy that companies are opting for is the branding of their spas, attracting customers by distinguishing their services, and enabling easy identification. Competition in the market is likely to intensify further over the next four years, with several mergers and acquisitions and collaborations.

Leading vendors in the market are –

  • Lanserhof
  • Ritz Carlton
  • Clarins
  • Fonteverde

Other prominent vendors in the spa market in Europe include Lefay Resort & Spa Lago di Garda, Chelsea Day Spa, Nirvana Spa, Four Seasons Spa, The Bulgari Spa, Thermae Bath Spa, and Terme di Saturnia.

Segmentation by spa types and analysis of the European spa market include;

  • Day and club spa
  • Hotel and resort spas
  • Medical spas
  • Destination spas
  • Mineral spring spas

In 2015, the day, club, and salon spa market stood as the largest revenue contributor in Europe and is likely to retain its dominance during the forecasted period. Day spas come with a diverse range of styles and personalities including small village day spa with three rooms or a great extravagant 350,000 square foot ambiance with hydrotherapy tubs. Day spas provide a wide variety of services that include massages and facials conducted by trained professionals on a day-use basis. Club spas are similar to day spas but primarily focus on fitness.

Growth drivers, challenges, and upcoming trends: Prevalence of mini spa treatments

Upcoming trends such as mini treatments are gaining popularity in the European spa market owing to the busy schedule among their  people. Vendors in the market are coming up with express treatments that enable individuals to avail spa service in their hectic schedule. Majority spas in Europe now have a spa service option of 30 minutes or less. For instance, Hilton has introduced a three-journey enhancement in mini treatments including the 25 minutes’ service that integrates different ancient healing techniques from around the world such as Ayurveda, Chinese acupressure, Swedish massage, trigger point therapy, Egyptian reflexology, Native American healing, Korean foot massage, Thai massage, and Indian head massage.

Information from the Technavio Report on Spa Market in Europe 2016- 2020 published in December 2016.

Predictions for the Future of Wellness, Travel, Spa and Beauty in Europe

The Global Wellness Institute (GWI) tapped European spa market experts, for forecasts ranging from how European nations will increasingly tax unhealthy food/beverages to a coming boom in Eastern European wellness properties

The organization asked its partner experts in Europe – from CEOs of top travel, spa and beauty companies to leading economists and researchers – to forecast where wellness is headed in Europe. Predictions range from European nations increasingly “legislating wellness” by taxing unhealthy products – to a surge in new wellness properties (and discovery of little-known traditions) across Eastern Europe– to the vast European beauty market being rewritten by both wellness and high-tech approaches – to wellness resorts refocusing on nature, peace and authenticity.

“Europe pioneered the holistic wellness concept, and it attracts more than half of the world’s international tourist arrivals, and is the largest spa, wellness tourism and beauty market in the world,” And while Europe has long been far ahead in wellness, other regions are fast catching up. The focus in Europe needs to be on the future and innovation.” said Susie Ellis, chairman and CEO of GWI.

The Predictions

1) Europe has long been the world’s wellness leader has seen stagnation in the last decade; but investment and innovation is coming.



When it comes to wellness, Europe has for centuries been way out in front: with the region (especially Austria, Germany and Switzerland) inventing the truly holistic wellness concept that extends far beyond spa, to include nutrition, fitness, traditional medicine, mindfulness and a powerful connection to nature (kurs, baths, and healing systems like 19th-century Sebastian Kneipp’s, marrying hydrotherapy, herbalism, movement, nutrition and mental wellness).

For so long, the world has had major catching up to do, but in the last decade they (i.e., the Americas, Asia) have: there has been recent stasis in Europe in innovating new, creative wellness offerings. In the future, Europe will (and must) focus on European Wellness 2.0, and private investment in older, once-state-sponsored European spas – as well as new wellness retreat concepts – will heat up to help make that a reality.

2) Wellness will be legislated: European nations will increasingly tax unhealthy food and beverages – and “Big Food” will remake themselves as wellness companies.

European Spa Market - Sustainble Food 1More than half of European adults are overweight, with obesity tripling in many European countries since the 80s (WHO). The sheer cost of this epidemic means than more European nations will start taxing unhealthy food and beverages. In March, the UK joined Scandinavian countries, France and Hungary in imposing a sugar tax on canned drinks. The imperfection of the new UK tax (not a brave, broad-based tax on sugar) shows the intense battle-lines between governments and phenomenally powerful “Big Food”. But more countries will take action, and the laws will expand to “bad” fats (like palm oil), high salt and highly processed foods.

Fighting back against the new legislation, European food and beverage manufacturers will reduce the amount of sugar in their products to preempt governments, as they also rebrand/reengineer around “healthy” or “wellness” foods. Nestlé, Europe’s biggest corporation and the world’s largest food company, looks to be taking a radical path: redefining itself as a scientifically-driven “nutrition, health and wellness company,” with plans that its foods will be the vehicle for an entirely new type of medication: both preventive treatments and traditional medicine…rewriting what “food” and “pharmaceuticals” could be in the future. Watch this space.

3) Tourism will be Europe’s fastest growing sector – and wellness travel will grow even faster.

Tourism will continue to have a very strong economic impact in Europe, and wellness tourism will grow even faster. Europe’s tourism market will grow 2.8% a year over the next decade, outpacing annual economic growth of 1.9% – making it Europe’s fastest growing market, equaled only by the financial sector. As Europe rapidly moves towards a service economy, tourism suddenly has greater absolute value than sectors like agriculture, manufacturing and chemicals – and represents nearly 60% of Europe’s entire retail sector.
And with vastly increased stress, an aging population, and people’s new quest for total wellbeing, over the next decades European wellness tourism will grow significantly faster than tourism overall. For instance, Global Wellness Institute research estimates a 7.3% annual growth rate between 2012-2017. The wellness travel outlook is very positive in mature Northern and Middle European nations; will grow even faster in Southern Europe (Italy, Spain, Portugal, etc., provided their economies continue to strengthen their recovery); and is bullish for the rest of developing Europe (including Russia, depending on economic/political factors) – where it’s safe to say it will expand at the pace of the middle class.

European Spa Market - GWI Wellness Tourism Chart4) “Get Thee to a Wellness Monastery”: European wellness resorts will refocus on deep authenticity, peace, quiet and nature.

The European (and global) consumer is facing unprecedented stress and 24/7 digital connection and “noise.” Radically pressured lives mean we don’t feel well anymore, and it’s creating new desires: for complete time out, uncompromising peace and quiet, and to be close to the forces of nature. And European wellness/spa resorts will increasingly shift their focus from glitzy, amenity-driven, “exotic” luxury to meet these powerful needs. Everything – from resort design/environments, guest rooms, spa treatments and fitness experiences – will shift to intense authenticity and nature…the new stage for self-transformation and “re-finding oneself.”

Equal parts spectacular and simple wellness retreats will appear on top of mountains, deep in the woods and snow, on the water, in the form of everything from treehouses to houseboats. Spas, treatments and saunas will emerge from the basement to burst out into the trees as new “nature cocoons.” The new luxury: sleeping in a glass igloo, wrapped in reindeer skins, with the Northern Lights sparkling above. Wellness retreats being developed in former monasteries (i.e., Schloss Mondsee, Austria; Eremito, Italy) are as much a tangible trend as a perfect metaphor for the future directions in Europe’s wellness destinations: calm, simplicity, wild nature, spirituality and profound self-seeking will be front-and-center…and they will give Europeans (and the world) what they most desperately seek.

European Spa Market - Artic Resort Finland


5) Spa 2.0: Rise of the European mini-kur

Bathing, and going on serious (10-day-plus) kurs, has always been a way of life in Europe. But now this time-honored, time-intensive tradition is emerging as a much shorter affair. “Mini-kurs” that pack in a 2-3 hour bathing ritual, spa treatments, nutritious food, movement, relaxation, and meditation/mindfulness (in one day or two) will trend. “Taking the waters” and hitting spa resorts will happen in shorter injections because busier Europeans are short on time, and there’s also growing unease about air travel, so people are staying closer to home.



The “wellness staycation” concept, which has been popular in Scandinavian countries for some time, will now spread across Europe. And people will increasingly embrace these much shorter, but still transformational “just being” experiences everywhere from Tylösand Hotel & Spa in Sweden to Fredreichbad in Baden Baden, Germany.

6) A wave of new wellness properties and traditions – from the Baltic to the Black to the Caspian Seas – will be discovered by the world.

European wellness seekers will increasingly “head east,” from the New Europe stretching from the Baltic to the Black Seas, further out to the Asian Caspian Sea. This region will undergo exciting wellness resort development, opening up their fascinating, little known wellness traditions to the world. So many forces are driving this eastward Wellness Renaissance. As former Soviet republics regain their footing, leading global wellness brands (whether Six Senses in Kazakhstan or Chenot Palace coming to Azerbaijan) are making moves – and the wellness property pipelines are heating up in Croatia, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia – and the seaside “Stans.” The region not only boasts an incredible, centuries-old, spa and bathing culture, the modernization of huge, former Soviet medicalwellness health resorts is underway. For instance, the stunning Kemeri Wellness Village & Hotel under development in Latvia (once a 19thcentury bathhouse under Tsar Nikolai I, and a Soviet-era health resort with 100 doctors and 1 million treatments performed annually) is a shining example. Set in historic buildings in a National Forest, this new wellness community will include a 5-star hotel and clinic, with programs from balneotherapy to sleep to fertility.



And if the wellness traveler craves new, hyper-authentic experiences, the Baltic-to-the-Black Sea traditions, where Nature is Healer, really deliver. From climate therapy (where precise microclimates, including “doses” of mineral water, sunlight, contrasting temperature and humidity, and exposure to phytoncides from forest bathing, are prescribed – to the unique bathing tradition of the “pirt” (so different than the Russian banya), where forest-gathered herbal “besoms” (bouquets) are applied – to the ancient (and antioxidant) “black smoke saunas” – to a powerful focus on “wild fitness” and music therapy. The Baltic-to-the-Black-Sea nations have some of the most established wellness cultures on Earth, but they’ve flown under the radar. That’s about to change.

7) First true chain of hot springs resorts will stretch across Eastern Europe



Look out for the first true chain of branded hot springs properties (a collection of wellness hotels owned by one company) to stretch from Poland in the North to Moldova in the South. These will be fantastic thermal water retreats integrating medicine and wellness, and capitalizing on Eastern Europe’s (including countries like the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia and Slovakia’s) abundant natural springs and kurs, long-established medical-wellness retreats, and rich-in-culture cities.

Private companies will work closely with state tourism departments to create safe destinations with reduced risk of terrorism, and once developed, this property network will likely become the world leader in “hot springs wellness.” And as the thermal springs movement gathers steam, look for national tourism boards, or group of countries banding together, to promote this new “Hot Springs Road” that will wind across Eastern Europe: from Budapest to the amazing Karlovy Vary spa town in the Czech Republic.

8) Wellness will rewrite the European beauty market: “Beauty from the inside out” overtakes “hope in a jar”

The legacy global beauty culture is largely a European creation, where the focus has long been on the “cosmetic” (or external “appearance” and “artifice”). But a megatrend unfolding in Europe (as it has in the U.S. and Asia) is wellness-as-beauty…or “beauty from the inside out.” And this dramatically different philosophy and aesthetic will shake up the marketing strategies and sales monopolies of the big cosmetic/skincare houses. Because the beauty-comes-from-within argument makes the cosmetics (and purely topical skincare) argument look more like hyped “hope in a jar.”

European Spa Market - Cosmetics in a BottleThe wellness-as-beauty wave in the European spa market will inspire new categories that will recast beauty as self-care and prevention vs. mere “cosmetic repair”: a dizzying array of functional solutions, along with a boom in the natural and organic generally (whether applied “within” or “without”). Is it all over for skincare and cosmetics? Hardly. One example: two French companies, L’Oreal (with their Vichy and La Roche-Posay brands) and Pierre Fabre (with Avene) show how wellness creates a new mega-category: healthcare for the skin. These products offer up the European heritage wellness of mineral springs water. And in the future almost every European company will adopt a wellness-as-beauty vocabulary and approach: whether it’s active cosmetics, dermocosmetics, etc. And crucially, with the shift to beauty-as-wellness, greater emphasis will be placed on evidence.


9) High-tech beauty (devices and more aggressive procedures) finally hits Europe

European Spa Market - Electrical Facial DevicesNear-medical, high-tech, device-driven beauty procedures are a booming market in the Americas and Asia, and they’re about to become one in the European spa market.  In particular we will see European hotel spas increasingly offer sophisticated “I-want-results-immediately” treatments using all types of cutting-edge beauty technology – which might start with a computer precisely analyzing your skin condition, followed by an intensive microdermabrasion peel, ultrasound or needling. At European spas, a “holistic” approach won’t just mean adding yoga, meditation or nutrition to massage, it will mean adding high-tech beauty to the already high-touch menus.

But the international differences will remain huge: while Asia and the U.S. are embracing ever-more-invasive procedures, Central Europe, for example, is only getting accustomed to microdermabrasion and ultrasound. And with the European beauty consumer a unique balance will need to be struck: they want high-impact results, but typically won’t accept any downtime after a treatment.  THe European spa market is definitely listening to what their customers are comfortable with.

10) New, important distinctions will be made between wellness, wellbeing & happiness.

Shifts in language indicate shifts in thinking. If we’ve had the term” wellness,” the “quality of being healthy”, with its emphasis on proactive improvement of physical, mental, social, etc. health, since the 1970s, there has recently been a confusion, or even a supplanting, of the concept by the terms “wellbeing” and “happiness” – in Europe and globally. This has been spurred by important research that measures “happiness” (i.e., the “United Nations World Happiness Index”) and “wellbeing” (i.e., the “Gallup Healthways Well-Being Index”) in nations around the world, which captures key measurements like social support, trust in government/ business, freedom – in addition to income realities and the physical health of the population. These studies have helped put “happiness” and “wellbeing” on the global stage, with a growing implication that these are “bigger,” more capacious concepts than wellness.

But they also reveal why confusing “wellness” and “wellbeing” is problematic. For one, “happiness” measurements are often not good indicators of a population’s health. One example: Mexico ranked #10 (out of 200+ countries) in Gallup’s well-being report, despite having the highest obesity rates in the world. And these studies capture “perceptual” wellbeing (they survey people). This can skew things: if a population has lower expectations (of money, education, health) they might rate their happiness higher than wealthier nations – and one might feel a little less “happy” if they were surveyed later when they’re sick from a chronic disease. Measuring happiness is very important, but we don’t want to lose sight of the goal: taking action to create a healthier world. It’s not enough to take the “heartbeat” of happiness…we have to change people’s heartbeats.

European Spa Market Wellness versus Well beingThe European spa market has much to teach the world about “wellness,” “well-being” and “happiness” (North European nations dominate the UN Happiness Report). But there will be a growing distinction between these terms/ concepts there, with wellness becoming associated with health and prevention and wellbeing associated with happiness. In a world where wellness has become a massive, so, heavily commercialized, market, there’s a temptation to move on to a fresh, big word. But the European spa market especially, as the pioneer of holistic wellness, should embrace “wellness” – staying true to the prevention mantle that will be so important for the region, and the world.

Information from the Global Wellness Institute: Sign up for their free Global Wellness Brief to stay informed of what’s happening in wellness globally: https://www.globalwellnessinstitute.org/subscribe

Career Opportunities in the European Spa Market

The fulfillment of wellness is a global phenomenon, so not unexpectedly the market is seeking professionally qualified spa therapists  to meet consumer demand.  Europe has quite stringent regulations, so having reputable certifications is particularly essential when seeking employment or opening a business in a European country.  The most internationally recognized qualifications are ITEC, VTCT, CIBTAC and CIDESCO, all of whom feature a vast array of courses in beauty, bodywork, fitness and customer service at approved training centers globally.

By 2018, the spa industry will need 2.7 million employees, with the United States, China, Germany, Japan, and Russia leading the job creation. That means an additional 80,000 Spa Managers and Directors are needed, and 500,000 more Spa Therapists  than in 2013 (Source: spaandwellnesscareers.com)  There are a multitude of job websites illustrating the type of therapists in the greatest demand in the European spa market.

If you are just seeking to enter this exciting industry or wish to grow your skills in order to rise more quickly through the ranks, one of the most popular and affordable places to learn is the Bali International Spa Academy.  At BISA you will discover all the cultural uniqueness of Bali while studying in small classes of international students.  It is a CIBTAC, ITEC and VTCT approved training centre, plus offers its own unique courses focused on Asian healing methods. Another specialty is 5-day spa management courses with a choice of BISA, CIBTAC or VTCT certification. Learn more about all BISA offerings here.

Not convinced you have what it takes?  Watch this recent BISA student tell her personal story.  Ready to take the plunge?  Email info@balibisa.com.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *