Rough Times – Spa Smooth Skin and Stress Relief a must

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Looking good despite the bad times

Consumers may be slashing clothing budgets and obsessing over grocery bills, but they’re still going to the spa to smooth away worry wrinkles.

With food prices up more than 6 percent and people turning to new measures like carpooling to save money, facials and massages wouldn’t seem to be top priorities. But as economic troubles mount, so do spa visits.

“We haven’t noticed the economy a bit,” said Sam Sheppard, media director for Hippocrates Health Institute, a health spa in West Palm Beach.

“Our business is booming.”

It’s a national trend. According to a recent nationwide survey spas are continuing to enjoy good business despite the bad economy.

Of the travel agents surveyed, 58 percent said they expected an increase in their spa bookings this year over 2007; another 26 percent expected the number of spa bookings they do in 2008 to remain steady.

Cecilia Redigan, spa director of Maui Spa in Boca Raton, agrees. “Here, they can come to the spa and relax and take the economy off their minds,” Redigan said.

If anything, spa owners say the added stress of the economy has helped their business.

“Stress is a real contributor; people don’t always realize how much it contributes to poor health,” Sheppard said. “The economy, it could be a factor why we’re doing well right now.”

For example, with the cost of travel forcing residents to take “staycations”, some are turning to spas for mini-getaways.

“The whole idea of the staycation has helped our business,” said Kyle Compton, marketing director for Anushka Spa & Salon in CityPlace.

“People are not spending money on traveling, but they’re still looking for quality attractions and destinations in their own backyards.”

Anushka, which recently celebrated its one-year anniversary in CityPlace. is getting between 400-600 new clients – mostly locals – each month.
Other spas have also enjoyed the benefits of staycations.

“We’re not that far away, but once you cross that bridge, you feel like you’re somewhere else entirely,” said Arielle Sutton, spa director of the

Resort at Singer Island’s SiSpa.
Still, spas are leaving nothing to chance. Lynne McNees, president of the International Spa Association, said many are discounting the prices of packages or offering 50-minute services instead of the more expensive 80-minute ones.

PGA National Resort and Spa’s director Margaret Byrnes, for instance, said its “buy one service, get a second half off” deal was created in response to economic worries.

Anushka is offering three spa services for $189; Compton said the deal has been a factor in the spa’s continued customer growth.
In addition, an effort by spas in the past several years to market themselves as an important element in healthy lifestyles has contributed to people’s willingness to continue visiting the spa.

“In the long run, it will cost you more if you don’t de-stress,” Redigan sums up, “because then you will have to take time off work and go to the doctor.”

“I don’t look at it as a luxury,” said 55-year-old West Palm Beach resident

Kathleen Owens of her twice-monthly appointments at Anushka.
“I’d rather eat less than not come to the spa

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