THE GROWTH OF THE SPA component within the travel and meeting industries is continuing unabated, both internationally and within the United States.

“A new hotel or resort, or the renovation of an existing one, will, without question, include the construction or expansion of spa facilities,” says Diane Freeland, vice president of corporate sales for Spa Finder, a New York — based spa travel and marketing company.

Spa Finder has predicted several spa trends to watch for this year. For example, Spa Finder expects the luxury end of the spa market to become even more luxurious, complete with new services such as four-hour massages and three-therapist treatments. Resort spas will also continue to offer a variety of exotic alternatives, with services such as Thai massage, Ashtianga, and Indian head massage joining Shiatsu and Ayurveda as treatments from which guests will be able to choose.

Freeland says mobile spas, complete with therapists, massage tables, and pedicure carts, are also becoming increasingly available, giving meeting planners the option of bringing spa services directly into their meetings.

A survey taken by Small Luxury Hotels of the World and released in April demonstrates how rapidly spa treatments have become a major focus of guests at luxury hotels. Of 1,000 frequent travelers and spa-goers surveyed, 36 percent say they spend more on spa therapies than they do on fine dining. The survey determined that these guests book up to three spa treatments during a weeklong hotel stay. The most commonly booked spa services, in order, are aromatherapy massages, facials, local “signature” therapies, manicures, “creative” treatments, Ayurvedic massages, reflexology, body wraps, and hydrotherapy.

Survey respondents also were asked what they disliked about spa experiences. These included:

  • Having to appear naked for treatments, or having to use a mixed sauna without bathing suits.

  • Hard-sell tactics to buy spa products.

  • Any sign of uncleanliness.

  • Being rushed out of a spa once a treatment is completed.

  • Having to make small talk with overly familiar staff.