The Spa of the Future

The Spa of the Future. Photo Credit: Copyright: 1971yes / 123RF Stock Photo
Photo Credit: Copyright: 1971yes / 123RF Stock Photo

Technology is changing the way we do everything at breathtaking speed, and the spa experience is no exception. But tech is not the only thing affecting change in the industry. Shifts towards mindfulness and a focus on personal “wellness” outside of the medical sector are also drivers of change.


Spa Executive Magazine delved into some of the research and technological developments and spoke to some of the people who are both driving and predicting these shifts about what spas of the future will look (and smell and sound) like a few years from now.


These people are:


  • Robert Henry, Owner, Robert D. Henry Architects
  • Dr. James Canton, CEO, Global Futurist
  • Aaron Nicholson, Co-Founder and CEO of Studio Transcendent


Here’s what you need to know about spas of the future

Photo Credit: Copyright: bernardbodo / 123RF / Stock Photo


“Wellness Architecture” was identified as one of the 8 Wellness Trends for 2017 and Beyond at the 2017 Global Wellness Summit. What does this mean? It means sustainable, “living,” and responsive buildings with pristine air quality. It means focusing on acoustics, light, temperature, scent, and biophilic design.


The spa environment will move in this direction as people develop more of an understanding of the impact of the environment on health and well-being. This includes both measurable pollutants and more esoteric factors like the psychological and physiological response to stimuli like sound and scent.


Architect Robert Henry says, “Imagine integrating all the senses into an experiential journey for guests. The more senses you can engage in creating the surrounding experience, the more committed it is to your memory. Ideally, you want it to be all favourable. We delve into the psychology of space.”


Spas will become places to seek out human connection


Photo Credit: Copyright: bernardbodo / 123RF / Stock Photo
Photo Credit: Copyright: bernardbodo / 123RF / Stock Photo


“You can get a massage or a workout in your home, but you won’t get that shared experience unless you’re sweating alongside someone, or relaxing and sharing stories in the waters,” says Henry. “I think spas are going to create new kinds of social experiences to compete with the home environment. We’re seeing a lot of spas that are fashion-forward regarding this, and that address those socialization needs with communal pools, saunas, and hammams that take a larger audience into account—and that create something memorable, as well as Instagrammable. It’s visual and experiential.”


Henry also believes that our reliance on technology and automation has the risk of “dehumanizing” us.


And so, he says, “The high touch in the spa and having people touch us on a human level—whether it be physically, emotionally, or psychologically—is going to become even more important.”


Your manicurist might be a robot


Photo Credit: Copyright: sarah5 / 123RF Stock Photo
Photo Credit: Copyright: sarah5 / 123RF Stock Photo


Your manicurist might be a robot in the spa of the future—but people will still want people.


Guests will seek out humans to provide specific services, while others will be automated. In the somewhat distant future, as booking becomes increasingly automated and software takes over much of the minutiae of CRM management, spas may find themselves without a need for front desk staff. A 2013 report from Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborne at Oxford University stated that receptionist is among the job most likely to be automated in or around the next decade or two, with a 96% likelihood of automation. Perhaps surprisingly, manicurists and pedicurists were also at a high likelihood—95%—for automation in the same time frame. Massage therapists fared better with a 55% likelihood of automation, despite the recent development of massage robots. People will still want to be touched by people—but we won’t need them to do our nails.


Allowing James Canton to have the last word, the futurist warns that spa leaders should start prepping for his Human 2.0 scenario now.


“I think spa leaders should get out in front of this, and understand that the consumer marketplace is going to be shifting and changing. Millennials will be living perhaps a decade longer than the boomers and at least five-seven years longer than Gen Xers. So, you could end up with middle age being in the 70s. And I don’t think any spa leader is ready for that today.”


Spa Executive Magazine is published by Book4Time, the world’s most innovative spa, salon, wellness, and activity management software. Learn more at


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Upcoming Event: Meet Robert D. Henry

2017 ISPA Conference & Expo

Mandalay Bay – Las Vegas, NV

October 16-18, 2017



Session Title: Design Trends That Bring Clients and Revenue

2017 ISPA Conference & Expo

Mandalay Bay – Las Vegas, NV

Date: Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Time: 8:00 – 9:00 am