hile the majority of countries shut down non-essential services over the past year to curb the spread of coronavirus, the Swedish government took a different approach. They issued guidelines and restrictions but continued to keep schools and businesses, including spas and hotels, open to avoid lockdown. Yasuragi, a Japanese inspired spa hotel on the outskirts of Stockholm, remained operational throughout the pandemic while adhering to regulations. All employees wear face masks, but guests don’t have to, screens are placed at all service counters, sanitisers are everywhere
Spas in Sweden have been able to stay open during the pandemic. But do people still want to visit them? Andrew Gibson investigates at spa hotel Yasuragi
PHOTO: ©ANDREW GIBSON AT FOUR SEASONS LANAI, HAWAII
Andrew Gibson has consulted and worked on spas around the world
66 spabusiness.com issue 2 2021
and numbers are restricted to enable social distancing. Swedes have always respected personal space so adherence to physical distance is easily complied with, but signage helps reassure and remind everyone to observe protocols. And it appears that COVID-19 has not curbed the nation’s appetite for wellness. Just like any ryokan, the bathing facilities are the primary attraction and on my midweek stay the extensive hydrothermal facilities that are open to both hotel and day guests were busy. I counted at least 80 people in the baths (the capacity was 400 pre-COVID). Almost all were couples, with age groups ranging from people in their early 20s to seniors.