Wellness – the buzzword for everything from spa treatments to organic food -has emerged as a major business sector. Wellness combines health with beauty, sport, tourism, urban daily life, and environmental awareness. Bloomberg Businessweek estimates the U.S. market at $400 billion. It is no surprise, then, that wellness has become an important segment of the travel industry.

“The Global Wellness Institute reports wellness tourism has become a $494 billion industry. Moreover, 4 out of 5 wellness tourists integrate activities and habits into their trips.”

According to Spa Finder Inc. (, there are more than 15,500 spas in the United States – more spas than there are Starbucks stores.

Rejuvenation at spas is only one element of wellness: there is also exercise, fitness, weight loss, and screening for disease. Travel with workout vacations and travel for physical exams at wellness centers are newer niches.


A list of award-winning spas is presented in Chapter 78 of this handblog.

Spa Vacations in USA

In a survey by the U.S. Travel Association (USTA,, 54% of travelers said they were interested in going to a spa. Almost a third (28%) of travelers said they were more interested now compared to five years ago in going to a spa or a place where they can relax and rejuvenate themselves. Among those who are interested in spa vacations, the majority (40%) are 35-to-54 years old; interest is also strong among 18-to-34 year olds (37%).

According to Wellness Resources (, 93% of resorts have spas and 50% of upscale hotels have spas. However, spas are no longer oriented only to upscale hotels and are increasingly penetrating the mid-market.

One of the first groups to recognize the potential of wellness travel was the Hawaii Spa Association ( Formed in 2001, their focus is tourism that enhances balance and harmony mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually with other forms of tourist activities centered around the spa environment.

In Hawaii there are hundreds of resort spas, some with up to 40 treatment rooms.

Spas and wellness centers are increasingly promoting themselves to the corporate market.

“Health and wellness are on the minds – and balance sheets – of many corporations, thanks to rising healthcare costs. Meetings planners may find themselves playing a role in the solution, and resort spas aiming corporate wellness programs at groups are banking on it.”

Spa Communities

With the popularity of spas, particularly among the wealthy, it is not surprising that the concept of living at a 365-day-a-year spa appeals to many.

Canyon Ranch (, the famed spa located outside Tucson, opened its first residential development in Miami Beach in 2010 to appeal to this market. A high-rise condominium development is also planned on the Miracle Mile in Chicago. And in Tucson, Canyon Ranch developed homesites on a 30-acre parcel adjacent to its original spa complex, creating a community focused on renewal and healing.

Miraval (, another Arizona-based spa, brought the spa community concept to its Tucson location with luxury residences that include with ownership more than 100 programs of exercise, meditation, education, and creative arts, plus an array of grooming and wellness services.

Global Wellness Institute, 333 SE 2nd Avenue, Suite 3750, Miami, FL 33131.

(212) 716-1212. (

Global Wellness Tourism Economy Report, Global Wellness Institute. (

Health & Wellness Tourism Market Research, Euromonitor. (

International SPA Association, 2365 Harrodsburg Road, Suite A325, Lexington, KY 40504. (859) 226-4326. (

Spa + Wellness Travel ( Wellness Tourism Worldwide (

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