Nobody wants to get old. Sure, wisdom is good. But the wrinkles, arthritis, aches and pains -- who needs it? People are doing everything they can to keep their bodies in tip-top shape, including indulging in spa treatments. The spa is one of the fastest-growing phenomena in our culture today. It has become a household name among mainstream travelers, especially among baby boomers approaching retirement. As the fourth-largest leisure industry in the nation, spas are now embracing trends that reflect the prolonged-life themes of its consumers -- reinvention, revival, and freedom.

This is happening because we are becoming more concerned with living a healthy life and staying fit for a very long time. Spas allow us to undergo natural, non-invasive procedures to make us look and feel younger.

"It's the same old story -- the aging baby boomers," says Hannelore Leavy, executive director of the Day Spa Association and the Medical Spa Association. "We will live longer than any generation before us. We want to be vital, active, healthy, and beautiful as long as we can. We work longer; even the government is now requiring us to work beyond the traditional 65 years, and we need to compete in the workforce. Youthful appearance is important for the business."

Reinvention: the Marriage of the Technological and the Organic

Making people look and feel younger is a science that pulls from all elements -- whether it be manmade chemical treatments or extracts of exotic plants. Centuries ago, spas were based on the purity of organic elements. This original focus has not been forgotten and continues to thrive, many times in combination with the best technology available.  

"Treatments using local and indigenous products continue to grow in popularity," says Lynne Walker McNees, president of the International Spa Association. "Incorporating local ingredients into a spa's offerings makes the experience even more interesting, rejuvenating and memorable for the guest." 

For example, The August Moon Spa, which opened its doors in October 2005 as a new addition to the La Tourelle Resort and Spa in Ithaca, New York, offers all natural products, designed from local products. Located in the Finger Lakes area -- home to more than 100 wineries -- August Moon Spa offers vinotherapy. Vinotherapy uses the exfoliating and antioxidizing properties of the grape. The spa's Vichy Shower treatment works with the inspirational waterfalls of Ithaca, and one of its body treatments is produced from local maple sugar.

August Moon is an Asian-inspired spa where Eastern therapies meet Western knowledge and technology is juxtaposed with organic practices, making it an ideal escape in a stressed-out world. 

With this inclusive philosophy, spa-goers are embracing an Eastern-Western meeting and riding the wave of cutting-edge treatments while maintaining a core connection with the natural world. Skin toning and tightening and non-surgical face-lifts are being performed now in lieu of traditional facelifts and other invasive procedures, which are now a last resort. La Tourelle's spa offers 10 kinds of facials, ranging from a simple mask to deep treatments like their glycolic facial. 

La Tourelle's August Moon offers mind, body & spirit experiencesIn general, spa visitors are opting for more mind-body-spirit experiences, including labyrinth walks, energy work, chakra balancing, acutonics, meditation, and good-old-fashioned rest and sleep on plush bedding and blackout shades. August Moon Spa offers reiki or the five-element "aroma"ssage; these two massages combine mind and body healing by balancing the energy between the two. "Whether you are getting a pedicure or a full body scrub, we have sought out the freshest, most natural ingredients available," says Leslie Leonard, general manager of La Tourelle. "(Our) very own aroma therapist has created our very own line of amazing products and scents for our spa."

For many health-conscious spa-goers who prefer not to brave the occasional sterility of medical treatments, Eastern tranquility methods provide a comforting alternative. More couples, meanwhile, will opt for romantic spa vacations, foregoing the traditional travel whirlwind in favor of a bonding sanctuary-style spa experience.

Treatment Trends

Surprisingly, men now comprise more than 30 percent of all U.S. spa-goers (and an even higher percentage in many other countries). Men are no longer content to be pandered to in feminized spa environments with concessions like "sports massages" and "men's facials." Instead, they want a spa where a man can be a man. With this, more men-only spas and grooming products are being introduced, and more co-ed spas cater aggressively to men with old-school amenities like traditional barber services, boxing robes, bars, sports viewing, and pool tables. The August Moon Spa, for example, offers sport, deep-tissue, or Swedish massages along with many others to make their male customers welcome. Its Web site even has a specific section for men.

"(There is) a surge in spa-goers looking for healthy aging treatments and products that deliver results," says Walker McNees. "As the spa lifestyle is woven more prominently into mainstream culture, several newsworthy trends are actually becoming expectations for spa-goers."

One of these trends involves the refocusing of spas on prolonging and enhancing the quality of daily living. According to Leavy, the day spas as well as the medical spas will experience an increased demand for more wellness services including nutrition, weight management, and muscle toning, all areas that are vital for a population approaching their golden years.

The August Moon Spa offers 13 types of massages, 10 different facials, eight body treatments, and six pedicures and manicures. Each skin treatment is designed for your needs by skilled aestheticians, along with recommendations on skin care products. Body treatments are used to detoxify your body, leaving you and your skin feeling smooth, supple, and young. There is even an adventure center concierge to help you plan outdoors activities, like hiking or biking.

Freedom and Flexibility

"The attention that's being paid to the benefits of the spa experience is helping consumers incorporate spa into their everyday lives," says Walker McNees. This has resulted in a greater prevalence and availability of spas and spa tools. They are everywhere, which means more liberty and flexibility for the spa-goer. 

Call it simple economics, but with the increase in demand and consequent supply of spas worldwide, now hopeful travelers have no more excuses like "I don't even have a few days to get away." In fact, as health is brought to the forefront of our lives, work-life researchers are finding that more people are starting to proactively open up substantial pockets in their busy schedules for time to relax and revitalize.   

"Booking time, instead of a treatment is a trend," says Walker NcNees. "It gives the consumer the flexibility to choose what they want based on how they feel when they arrive at the spa."

As spa-goers find more time to become dedicated to a healthy lifestyle, spa tools are exploding across the country and making their way into homes -- resulting in the ultimate personalization and freedom of experience.  

August Moon Spa offers a signature line of products, as well as two other lines (Jurlique and B. Kamins). The products are designed with natural ingredients for their skin enhancing properties. This allows you to take home the experience and care for your skin until your next spa visit.

The Spa Delivers

With advances in technology and increased flexibility in lifestyle, our society is redefining itself and the spa community. In turn, the spa community is responding with enthusiasm and delivering on the demands of a generation undergoing constant reinvention and revitalization. 

Leavy, a boomer herself, feels the positive movement of her generation towards spas.

"We want a vital, active, healthy, and beautiful way beyond the generation before us," says Leavy. "No more rocking chairs."

La Tourelle Resort & Spa

Ithaca, New York

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