Spas need a thorough rethink, says Espa

Spas need to return to the drawing board for new operational and conceptual concepts to work in post COVID-19 times

Health resorts providers and staff have to be prepared for the new challenges of hygiene control after the COVID-19 pandemic has been brought under control, European Spas Association (Espa) says in its latest communication.

We all know that the COVID-19 pandemic draws its danger from the fact that we are dealing with a new type of virus that is both highly contagious and is transmitted via droplets, exhaled air particles and direct contact. All places where a relatively large number of people can meet and thus become infected pose a special challenge in terms of preventive hygiene.

Claudia Wagner, managing director of the special tour operator Fit Reisen in Frankfurt, explains: "The coronavirus shows us once again that health is our most important asset and it is important to maintain it for as long as possible. Right now, attention is growing for preventive and rehabilitating health holidays – because how else can you promote your own diet, exercise and relaxation under professional guidance. The immune system is strengthened by treatments with natural remedies and civilizational diseases such as diabetes, obesity and respiratory diseases (Copd) can be prevented.


In the near and medium future, people will think twice about travelling and only select destinations that are safe and offering services that they really have to have and can’t get at home


Fit Reisen included only selected spa resorts in the catalogue with very good price-performance ratio to offer the best benefits for all types of health trip for medical treatment and prevention, like the Medical Spa Eglės Sanatorija in Lithuania and the Health Spa Resorts in Hungary, in the Czech Republic, for example, offer a very good value for money and high quality of professionals in the therapy.”

Balneology will play an important role in prevention measures. The positive recognition is that all the debilitating causes that weaken our immune system are already successfully treated by modern balneology. The timing as well as the intensive relaunch of medical spas and spa hotels requires an effective and cost-effective innovation.

The company Biohealthy Water, Arconhe, has created the gas based and patented system “Biohealthy water” to find a solution that could solve all problems related to water hygiene with a single product. In diverse sectors, hotels and spas included, high quality water hygiene is a basic requirement. Ing. Lucio Piticchio, general manager of Arconhe, explains: “Biohealthy Water is suitable for all types of water systems, also for the most sensitive ones like thermal waters. In fact, being a system that uses food-grade gases, it does not organoleptically modify the water and allowing the elimination of what is the natural habitat of bacteria, amoebas etc. Biohealthy Water guarantees a perfectly clean and efficient water system. The goal is to have a system where bacteria do not find any suitable habitat to thrive, also absence of limestone and biofilm.”

Cooperation will become more and more important in the future.

If we look back in time, we can see that health tourism has developed incredibly over the last few decades. Some destinations are based on their medical spa knowledge and on their historical rehabilitation traditions. Elsewhere in Europe, there has been considerable construction of well-equipped complexes with a multitude of facilities and treatment options.

Our world changed almost immediately with the arrival of the novel Coronavirus. Many health resorts attract the senior market, with many clients suffering from underlying health conditions. This senior market segment extremely vulnerable to the current crisis and travel. Health destinations will have to change both operationally and conceptually to improve safety and the quality by travel and medical services and to make the pandemics for they advantage.

Operationally, health destinations will need to prove that they are safe environments, through stricter hygiene controls, sanitation and screening of all staff and visitors. This will mean a rewrite of current hygiene regulations, training for staff and new control mechanisms. Where spas, sauna areas and pools are involved this will have a major impact. Ultimately improved hygiene can only improve the standard of operations in health destinations.

Conceptually, in the near and medium future, people will think twice about travelling and only select destinations that are safe and offering services that they really have to have and can’t get at home. This means health destinations will have to become more creative and not only offer treatments that are unique, but also are medically proven to attract guests and offered to the highest, safest standard.

With physical health high on people’s agenda, health destinations have the opportunity to return to their medical roots but at the same time, as guests seek to protect and improve their immune systems and health conditions, broaden their scope to more integrative approach.

The current crisis is making people focus less on the superficial aspects of life (material gain, aesthetics), instead they are turning inward (mental and spiritual health). This change will give health destinations the opportunity to offer more health services. Medical as well as mental, emotional and spiritual focus.

Spa experiences where large groups of clients congregate together could remain out of fashion for some time. This could be the opportunity for medical spas and spa-hotel with therapy and clinics. Luckily, in traditional health resorts many treatments are medical services are individually prescribed. In terms of safety, this could be an advantage for health destinations. Thereby can investments be made profitable and that’s only possible if the offer is truly unique and if it has positive effect on people’s wellbeing. Health for body and mind!

Eating healthy, healthy recreation, finding balance in spectacular surroundings with basic elements like the local remedies. Precisely the practice of local remedies, like thermal baths, thalasso, fit in with the present-day trends, where strengthening the immune system becomes increasingly important.

Looking into the future, Espa predicts:

• Short distance travel will have the advantage as people are less enthusiastic to fly long haul – this could mean more people visiting their regional health destinations.

• Safe, hygienic destinations will be preferred.

• A complete revision in hygiene and safety standards will become necessary.

• New treatments and services will be required to inspire guests to visit.

• More opportunities for smaller, less-crowded health resorts.

• Holistic and integrative health will be a focus.

• A resurge in individual spa and treatment experiences will be seen shortly.