Hotel spas a growing trend, with Europe leading the way
Hotel spas a growing trend, with Europe leading the way
06 MARCH 2019 9:14 AM

Data from STR shows that there are more and more hotels with spas and wellness-focused offerings around the globe.

HENDERSONVILLE, Tennessee—As global tourism numbers continue to increase, so does the desire of travelers who want to see world and feel good while doing it.

According to the Global Wellness Institute’s 2018 Global Wellness Tourism Economy study, wellness tourism “grew from a $563-billion market in 2015 to $639 billion in 2017, or 6.5% annually, more than twice as fast as tourism overall (+3.2%).” Wellness tourism is expected to increase even faster through 2022 to reach $919 billion at about a rate of 7.5% annually.

The tremendous numbers of travelers and dollars spent influence how hotel brands and hotel developers react to this immense opportunity. While the term “wellness” is certainly open to interpretation, one interesting indictor of the proliferation of wellness-related offerings is the number of hotels that offer spa services.

In the STR census database, we track this amenity and have done so over time. Here are the number of hotels that offer a spa shown by world region. (STR is HNN’s parent company.)

Clearly the number of hotels with spas is increasing, from a total global number of 13,000 in 2014 to 19,020 in 2018, which is a 46% increase over this five-year time span. Europe leads the way in the number of facilities, which is not surprising given its century-old tradition of wellness and spa treatments. Looking at the changes over time shows a slightly different picture:

This means that while the hotel industry is always adding more new hotels that offer spas, the growth rates have fallen quite sharply over time. For example, in Europe, the growth rate of hotels with spas has fallen from 19% in 2016 to 5% in 2018. But of course spa offerings are often associated with the higher-end price points in the industry and as select-service brands proliferate, a slowdown in the construction of hotels with new spas is not that surprising.

Looking forward, the STR pipeline provides insights into the projects coming online that offer spas. It is worth pointing out that while STR tracks the amenity of a spa for open hotels, for hotels in the pipeline we have to rely on the name of property to ascertain if a spa will be part of the hotel project. If the term “spa” is part of the name, then it is counted. We understand that this might undercount the amount of hotels, but the methodology is the same as the years, so our results will be directionally correct.

As of December 2018, we track 186 projects around the world with “spa” in the name, a slight uptick of 2% from 183 projects in 2017.

In the Americas, the total number of projects increased from 36 in 2015 to 38 in 2016 and was relatively consistent. However, in 2018 the project count declined to only 28, which was probably a sign of continued instability in certain South American economies and the proliferation of select-service hotels in North America. The number of projects in the Asia/Pacific region increased from 57 in 2016 to 61 in 2018, showing a slow and steady pace driven by the emerging middle class in India and China. The European numbers are skewed up because of the addition of a new data source in late 2016 to the STR data set. Only the data in 2017 and 2018 should be compared and now stands at 73 projects through the end of 2018. The Middle East/Africa project counts continue to be highly influenced by the availability of capital, which fluctuates with the price of oil.

Overall, the continued strong demand for high-end hotels coupled with an emerging middle class supports further development expansion of hotels with spas and wellness-focused offerings. STR will continue to monitor the pipeline for development trends going forward.

Jan Freitag is the SVP of lodging insights at STR. Tingting Duan is a research analyst at STR.

This article represents an interpretation of data collected by STR, parent company of HNN. Please feel free to comment or contact an editor with any questions or concerns.

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