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October 6, 2006 7:43 pm

More than just pampering

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Gone are the days when spas were mere non- profitable amenities of hotels. Nowadays, spas and wellness or holistic resorts are profitable businesses on their own. The spa industry has grown to more than $40bn, says SpaFinder, a US-based guide to spas around the world.

Spas not only pamper you, but for a substantial price they will also teach you how to live a healthy lifestyle.

A one-week stay for executives in luxurious spas will include massages, manicures and reflexology along with lectures on nutrition, sleep, one-on-one exercise classes with professional trainers and meditation sessions. Many have special weight-loss programmes.

As more companies send their executives to these resorts the business is flourishing. Across the country, every respectable hotel provides spa services, not to mention wellness resorts whose purpose in life is to make you feel good. In case scenic resorts happen to be too far away to fit into the chief executive’s schedule, there are day spas in the heart of every major metropolis.

If you multiply the fact that New York City is home to thousands of banks, brokerages and other financial institutions and boasts relatively cheap service labour costs (compared to Europe or Canada), you will get more than 500 day and stay spas. Some are even intended for spoiled pets. “New York has more day spas than any other place in the US; I think it is because of the stress levels in the city,” says Susie Ellis, president of SpaFinder.

Just like the variety of ethnic or speciality restaurants you would find in New York, there is a wide variety of spas and salons: Russian banyas, complete with leaps into cold water pools after sauna; Asian spas, with exotic Tai Qi head massages; French spas with exquisite aromatherapy.

There are special spas for couples; detoxification; medical and dental spas – and the list goes on.

Average one- to two-hour sessions will range from $149 to $200. The price goes up if the package includes more services, lasts longer, or if the number of people increases.

Beauty spas make up two-thirds of the total, while the rest are medical and wellness spas.

“About 70 per cent of customers in day spas are women, 30 per cent men. The latter number increases to 40 per cent in destination spas,” says Ellis. Facials, non-surgical face-lifts, hair removal, teeth whitening, tanning, manicures and pedicures, cellulite reduction and tattoo removals are packaged along with acupuncture, Pilates and yoga classes.

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