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Industry insights PREDICTIONS

■■ Opuke Thermal Springs will be a major draw for the region

“Creating a spa and wellness identity unique to Australia will be important” Neil Owen, Spa Vision, director



photo: Lumo Photography


photo: Spa Vision

ne positive of the pandemic has been the opportunity to showcase Australia as a destination to Australians, which will enhance the country’s spa and wellness offering and make a positive impact on individuals and communities. Previously, many Australians believed spa and wellness holidays were better catered for within the exotic Pacific Islands or South East Asia. While these destinations will continue to thrive and attract Australians, there has been a shift in attention as to what is potentially available on the doorstep. Hotel development has continued despite the pandemic, however, creating a spa and wellness identity unique to Australia will be important. Instead of developing facilities which purely offer treatment based experiences, offering thermal spa circuits, more aligned with European bathing traditions, would be a logical approach for Australian spas. This model, which is globally proven, involves providing guests with a collection of self guided thermal experiences which could include a variety of saunas of varying temperatures, steam baths, ice, snow, hydrotherapy, relaxation and F&B areas designed to cater for longer packages. Although the upfront investment is higher, this model would allow operators to service a larger number of guests with lower staff ratios, creating higher spend and longer spa experiences. Treatments would continue to be an integral component,

however operators should not base their revenue potential purely on the availability of therapists and capacity limitations. Harnessing the Aussie sunshine and powering equipment with solar power further enhances the economic feasibility of such developments. Although desirable, facilities should not limit themselves to being reliant on hot or mineral springs, but seek inspiration from the templates of many successful European spas which create such facilities without these natural resources and within easy reach of urban populations. Australia has so many incredible destinations on the periphery of its major towns and cities which would perfectly complement this model. Projects such as Opuke Thermal Springs in New Zealand, Alba Thermal Springs & Spa in Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula and the planned development of Tawarri Hot Springs on the Perth Riverside are great examples of facilities which will make an impact in the region.