By Patricia Reaney
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The spa industry is booming, particularly in China and India, as more men and aging boomers seek pain relief as well as relaxing and luxury treatments, including $1,250 facials.
Massage is still the most popular request, but people with deep pockets can opt for pricier treatments such as the ultra-expensive facial from New York skincare expert Dangene, who is booked months in advance.
Treatments ranging from plasma therapy, in which a patient's platelet-rich plasma is extracted from their blood and injected into wrinkles, and infrared saunas to oxygen therapy and salt rooms are also giving a boost to the $250 billion industry.
"The word spa has become a global term. It has captured people's imaginations and is a term they can relate to in a very positive way," said Susie Ellis, the president of SpaFinder Inc, a global spa resource group that publishes a yearly report on the industry.
"There has been an explosion (in spas) in Asia," she added in an interview.
China and India are leading in spa/hotel development, but there is also growth in Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Egypt, according to Ellis.
NEW WAVE AND SPEEDY TREATMENTS
In the United States, men wanting to look younger to compete in a tough job market are heading to spas.
"Twenty five years ago hardly any man would go to a spa. Now in some spas half of their clientele are men," said Ellis.
"We've got the men, the younger generation and the baby boomers that are fuelling it."
Day spa clients are predominately female but the number of men is increasing.
"Overall, our industry is showing about a 70-30 split." said Ellis.
Baby boomers are shifting away from pampering treatments to pain relief and physical therapy, while their children, who grew up along with the modern spa industry in the 1980s, make up the new wave of clients, along with men.
"They come to improve their golf swing or they have an ache in their back. Relaxation is part of it but often times it is more results orientated," according to Ellis.
And whether it is a 20-minute massage, a 10-minute workout, a lunch-time facial or a speedy injection of Botox before heading back to the office, quick treatments are all the rage.
"It's huge," said Ellis. "The whole idea of fast beauty, fast fitness, shorter workouts -- that whole thing is trending."
With everyday life speeding up and stress identified as the main reason for people visiting spas, most experts at the Global Spa Summit in Bali, Indonesia in May predicted that good times for the industry would continue, with preventive medicine and beauty and cosmetic accounting for most of the growth spurt.
"The whole idea of spa and wellness tourism is another trend I think is something to watch," said Ellis.