State of mind

Jeremy McCarthy, director of global spa development and operations at Starwood Hotels & Resorts, on how the industry can bring the psychological benefits of spa to the forefront.

The spa industry prides itself on being holistic, i.e., considering body, mind and spirit, in the way we treat clients. But even in the spa world, the physical side still seems to get preferential treatment. Most luxury spas market themselves around the physical aspects of the experience: facilities, products, treatments and so on, and while we know that the benefits of the treatments are not only physical, the science is lacking in this area. Research on the benefits of massage is, for example, usually based on the measurement of aspects of physical health, such as heart rate, blood pressure, the release of hormones into the blood stream and the alleviation of physical pain.
The spa industry does still try to promote the psychological and spiritual benefits of what we offer, but we are forced to do so less scientifically. When it comes to this aspect of the service we provide, spas are more likely to site sources such as The Secret or the latest self-help book by Wayne Dyer than research from scientific journals on psychology and spirituality. As an industry, we therefore need to carry out far more extensive research into the psychological benefits of spa. However, while a lack of scientific research is one problem, most spa professionals are also not particularly well informed about or good at reading up on the research that actually is available. As a sector, we need to invest more time in learning and thinking about psychology.

Read the full article on page 34 of the January issue of the Professional Spa and Wellness digital magazine for FREE here, or access the digital magazine by selecting your chosen platform here.