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Wellness – Sustainable Business Models for Spas

balibisa Spa Industry, Spa Sustainability, Wellness Leave a Comment

wellness word cloud appleAs  wellness continues to evolve from a niche lifestyle concept into a mainstream commodity embraced by everyone from Prince Harry to Vogue magazine, the wellness industry itself also underwent a significant period of growth.

The wellness industry is now said to be worth over $3.72 trillion, representing more than 5% of all global economic output. Despite being in an era of uncertainty and disruption, the market matured as businesses across all industries, including spas, expanded their offerings to meet exponential demand. This has led to a spike in mergers, acquisitions and a greater number of investment transactions than ever seen before.

With 2018 predicted to be the biggest year for wellness yet, businesses are shifting their priorities to focus on wellness beyond the products and services they offer. By creating healthy company cultures, putting sustainable business practices in place and collaborating to support the growth of the market, this year the wellness industry is on course to become more accessible, more conscious and even more disruptive than ever.

One of the key wellness trends as identified by Global Wellness News is the following;

Sustainable Wellness Business Models Take Center Stage

With consumers beginning to feel as though they’ve got a handle on the traditional dimensions of wellness, such as physical activity, nutrition and sleep, their attention is beginning to move elsewhere.

Looking beyond the idea of personal wellbeing, a new generation of conscious consumers are thinking about how the decisions they make are impacting the wider world, especially when it comes to the businesses they engage with.  Demanding that brands demonstrate real engagement with sustainability, consumers are driving the idea of purpose over (or at least alongside) profit and the philosophy that wellness brands should ‘practice what they preach’.


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Nielsen reveals that almost two-thirds (66%) of consumers are willing to pay extra for products and services that come from companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact – proving that it pays for businesses to put their money where their heart is.

Leading the charge, celebrities and influencers in the wellness sphere are broadening the conversation around the environmental impact of the products consumers are buying.

Wellness - Runa TeaFrom Leonardo Dicaprio’s investments in sustainable brands including plant- based food startup Beyond Meat and Amazonian tea company Runa, which aims to support Ecuadorian farmers through fair trade, to British fitness blogger Zanna Van Dijk’s promotion of sustainable brands like KeepCup — championing sustainability has become the latest badge of honour for wellness advocates.

Within the athleisure segment, forward- thinking startups like Girlfriend Collective and ADAY have already found success by creating ethically made and sustainably sourced clothing. Acquiring an 8-week waiting list and earning Co- Founder Ellie Dinh a place in the Forbes 2017 30 Under 30 list, Girlfriend Collective is just one example of how sustainability can be a driver of growth, rather than detrimental to a company’s profitability.

Elsewhere, young startups like Karma are providing sustainable solutions to growing concerns around issues such as food waste. The yet-to-be-launched Karma app will allow consumers to purchase surplus food from quality restaurants for half the price, while established F&B brands such as Arla are doubling down on marketing their sustainable practices, to set themselves apart from competitors.

So, what does this preferential move toward sustainability and ethical consumerism mean for the wellness industry in 2018?
With demand for wellness products and services increasing in developing countries such as Brazil, China, Malaysia, India and South Africa, opportunities are rife for sustainable wellness brands to leverage first mover advantage while building a more circular economy focused on reuse, recycling and remanufacturing.

Meanwhile, for entrants into markets that have already fully embraced wellness, focusing on sustainability could be the hook that differentiates them from competitors in an increasingly crowded industry.

Wellness - Mio SkincareAccording to Sian Sutherland, Founder of British ‘no nasties’ skincare brand Mio and A Plastic Planet — a grassroots organisation campaigning for a plastic- free aisle in supermarkets — the time has come for challenger wellness brands to show the way by using packaging made from plant starches and proteins, algae, agricultural by- products. “Our future will not be built on fossil fuel but on biology, and the wellness industry has a huge opportunity to lead the way,” she suggests.

As the market develops, innovation will be key, with sustainable packaging solutions predicted to be the next major focus.  According to design and creative consultant Kate Shaw, wellness brands “will need to start to consider creative and aesthetically beautiful solutions for packaging which avoid the use of plastic.”

She adds that the “budgets once used for the research and development of products will be used to research and develop new materials, as brands begin to realise that consumers will pay a little more for well thought through packaging solutions.”
With pressure mounting on established brands in the wellness space to commit to sustainable initiatives that address growing economic and societal concerns, for brands that can create innovative solutions, acquisitions and investments are becoming increasingly common, as corporates look to startups to fast track change.

However, to facilitate longevity, sustainable wellness brands will need to take consumer preferences into account and create products that can be easily integrated into everyday life. Building products and services that are both desirable and sustainable will be the key to success.

Information from WellToDo Global Wellness News. 

How can spas capitalize on consumer’s focus on wellness?

Not every spa owner has the deep pockets of Leonardo Dicaprio or operates in a market with bountiful ethical options, but there are many simple things that can be done to demonstrate your commitment to sustainability. In fact, you probably already have a lot of eco-friendly policies and equipment in place, but are just not shouting it out to the community.  Post your ”green” activities in a prominent place, so customers are aware of what you already do.

Need some help getting started?  Green Spa Network’s  Sustainability Assessment Tool is a questionnaire designed specifically for spas to help them assess and improve their company’s sustainability. Their in-depth survey addresses the intentions, plans and concrete actions taken towards environmental and social responsibility. Upon completion, the Sustainability Status Report provides a comprehensive measurement of the company’s sustainable practices across 18 categories, including water management, energy use, waste reduction, laundry processes, and even leadership and community connection.

They also have a Green Spa Toolkit to guide you on your journey.

Here are some recent examples of how to demonstrate your spa’s dedication to sustainable practices.

1) Community Outreach

Chiva-Som International Health Resort in Hua Hin, Thailand, is closed for six months while it undergoes extensive remodelling, but its employees remain dedicated to a long-standing policy of championing environmental awareness, and assisting in the preservation and support of the local community.  Several initiatives, policies and practices are in place to viably sustain and grow Chiva-Som’s business into the future with a continued environmentally responsible approach.

Highlights of the Chiva-Som team’s chosen initiatives include:

Wellness - Chiva Som Community outreach program

Chiva-Som practitioners offered vital medical clinic assessments for the Karen people.

CSR Medical Mission – Chiva-Som’s wellness practitioners, together with 21 volunteers from various departments, supported the Karen Communities at Pa-la-U Village. . As many villagers live completely independently without travelling outside of its bounds, Chiva-Som practitioners offered vital medical clinic assessments as well as treatments such as acupuncture, physiotherapy, hands-on lice removal and haircuts.

Preserve Hua Hin – The team have been completing regular beach clean-ups and encouraging locals to get involved along the six kilometers of Hua Hin beach and around the ferry pier. Staff have also assisted with the repainting of the Khao Krailart temple staircase, plus donated food and raised funds for the Hua Hin Dog Shelter.

Krailart Niwate Mangrove Ecosystem Preservation & Science Education Centre – Team members have been dedicating their time to the upkeep of the environmental conservation project, which was set up by Chiva-Som in 2016, to preserve the last remaining urban mangrove ecosystem in Hua Hin, Thailand.


Hua Hin Marathon – The Chiva-Som team were on hand to assist with the first Hua Hin Marathon. Helping at food stations, distributing water and offering first aid whilst the Physiotherapy department offered their award winning treatments to the runners.

Get your staff involved in local projects which reflect the ethics of your spa.

2) Wellness Programs Created by Recognized Leaders in your Area

Wellness - Hyatt Regency Seragaki Island Okinawa Resort

The recently opened 344-bedroom Hyatt Regency Seragaki Island Okinawa  resort features a wide range of wellbeing and recreational programmes focused on self-discovery and wellness which have been curated by free-diving world record holder, Sayuri Kinoshita.

Even though you may not have a world record holder living in your community, there is likely to be someone of a high stature with a strong wellness resume.  Their advice can lend credibility to wellness – focused programs.  They can also act as an ambassador for your spa on social media for which they are likely to have a substantial fan following.

3) Eco Friendly Spa Treatments and Products

Sustainability permeates every part of Arizona’s Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort and Spa, where practices such as passive rainwater collection, solar energy and geothermal heating and cooling are staples of everyday operations. In the spa, many treatments utilize Round Barn Apothecary skincare products and steaming hot herbal towels. The former are formulated with organic botanicals that are indigenous to the Southwest, while the latter are infused with local wild herbs that are returned to the resort’s garden as mulch post treatment.  The hot herbal towels open pores and relax the body and mind, leaving the skin restored and radiant.

Wellness spaisledefrance luxury spa st barths 2

The Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg, Virginia only uses local, fair trade and organic-forward spa products,  all of which are free of formaldehyde, BPA, toluene and dibutyl phthalate.  Their health-first policy benefits both  therapists and guests.  Additionally, unused massage oils are re-purposed into candles

Being acknowledged as a leader in sustainability is as important to the Salamander staff as being recognized for high service standards. “It takes persistence to commit to sustainability practices,” says Cindy Moreno. Spa Director of the Salamander Resort & Spa “I encourage spa owners who want to care for their team and the environment to start small and build sustainability practices over time. Every little step can make a long-term impact.”

The W Retreat & Spa AWAY Spa on Vieques Island offerswellness - noni fruit body scrub a variety of uncommon treatments to indulge in local island culture. The “Nourish Wrap” was designed to create a beauty glow using local “Noni” fruit, which locals use as an anti-aging treatment. The wrap also includes a fresh combination of aloe, green tea, and antioxidants to reduce inflammation.

In the ancient and indigenous Costa Rican culture of Cabecar and Wellness rainforest fruits c wtmaBri Bri, the coco-luscious facial is the ultimate tropical indulgence and a journey for the senses. The  Sibö at Los Sueños Ocean & Golf Resort features a rainforest fruit facial that utilizes the natural enzymes found in mangos and pineapples, and rich, luxurious coconut oils, leaving the skin radiant and glowing.

At Hawaii’s Turtle Bay Resort’s MaluKinetic Spa, their signature nail care treatment uses vegan ‘9-free’non-toxic nail polish and products which is healthier for human beings, animals and the environment.

4) Going Local

It is not just 5-star resort spas which can fulfill sustainability goals. Smaller, locally owned spas can also make a significant difference just by looking at what is available in their immediate area. Think of facials and scrubs which can be produced from seasonal fruits.  Explore what organic produce is available to create your own signature juices and teas.  Discover local companies who are producing organic after-care products.  If your community has unique geographical or cultural features, celebrate them with innovative spa treatments.

There are so many possibilities to demonstrate your commitment to sustainable practices and earn customer loyalty as a result.

Portrait of Penny Ellis, President / Director of Bali International Spa Academy in Sanur, Bali

By Penny Ellis

Founder and Director

Bali International Spa Academy





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