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Wellness and spas show on way

Dubai, May 25, 2009

The wellness and spas industry in the Middle East owes its outstanding growth innovations in health, wellness, fitness, beauty, design, and spa cuisine, say the organisers of a major wellness and spas show.

Wellness and Spas Middle East is scheduled to take place from June 7 to 9 at the Dubai International Exhibition and Convention Centre.

The ‘in-transit’ spa experience is the latest trend reaching a whole new level. Spas, which began as a novelty has turned into big business that uniquely targets today’s captive and over stressed traveler.

“The spa industry is in full expansion with a turnover of Dh2.3 billion ($631 million) across the region in 2008,” said Elisabeth Brehl, managing director of Epoc Messe Frankfurt, organisers of the Wellness & Spas Middle East exhibition.

“Research denotes that the UAE alone accounts for more than 42 per cent of this figure, or Dh986 million ($268 million). This translates to year-on-year growth of 34 per cent,” she added.

According to a report released by professional services firm Ernst and Young, spa treatments booked in Dubai increased by seven per cent from January to March.

However, consumers are becoming more price-sensitive as treatment revenue increased only by four per cent over the same period, the report stated. The report has also found that the share of day spa visitors were increasing as compared to visits by hotel guests.

Ernst & Young also added that, the business mix of spa guests appears to be shifting towards day spa visitors. Within beach hotels, the year-to-date percentage split of spa treatments booked by hotel guests versus non-hotel guests is 56 and 44 per cent.

In city hotels, the year-to-date percentage split of spa treatments booked by hotel guests versus non-hotel guest is 47 and 53 per cent. These percent-ages of spa treatments booked by hotel guests in both types of hotels are down from 60 per cent and above, as estimated by spa operators last year.

This trend could be a result of a decline in hotel occupancies along with hotel guests tightening their belts due to lower travel budgets. It also indicates a greater interest for spa visits among Dubai’s resident population in response to special packages offered by spas that target residents.

Paul Arnold, director, transaction advisory services, real estate, hospitality & leisure of Ernst & Young Middle East underlined the need for establishing benchmarks within the spa sector.

He said, “There has been an absence of consistent metrics to measure performance within the spa industry. To fill this void, we have undertaken this new benchmark initiative. The data collected aims to give spa operators and hotels a chance to review their operations objectively.

“It enables operators to benchmark them against existing standards in Dubai. They will also be able to better communicate their performance to industry stakeholders.”

Spas in the Middle East continue to excel in their development of medical facilities, and in comparison to the rest of the world in terms of price, the spas here would be quick to react to general price indicators and are likely to stay competitive, according to Brehl.

The Middle East continues to attract spa goers from all over the world; its most luxurious spas include the Talise Spa at Madinat Jumeirah, Banyan Tree Resort in Bahrain, Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea, the new Mandara Spa at Monarch Dubai and Atlantis Spa at The Palm.

Brehl added that, “Spas in the Middle East are not immune to the global downturn, but many of the luxury properties here would still benefit from their appeal to the super wealthy, as this demographic is not necessarily as much affected by the ongoing crisis.”

“In general, the spa industry is focused on positively moving through the economic crisis and is firmly focused on raising awareness of the wellness and healthful aspec


Tags: Dubai | Exhibition | Spa | wellness |

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