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The journey to yourself

The pandemic has set something in motion that was already apparent beforehand: self-perception has changed. Wellness has taken on a new importance in this context, and beauty has been traded in for charisma. Wellbeing and happiness are the mantra of the hour.

January 20, 2022

The last two years have turned a lot of lessons learned on their head, on every conceivable level. In the wellness sector, they have driven a change that was already on the horizon beforehand, but has gained momentum in the pandemic. Extrinsic factors are intertwining with intrinsic factors, needs are being met differently, and the awareness of what wellness includes or even means has changed. Lisa Marie Stangier, spa manager at the five-star superior hotel "Interalpen-Hotel Tyrol", for example, states a "trend toward the active self. In the wellness sector, there is a growing awareness that you can contribute something yourself, be it through exercise or mindfulness training." The house has a long tradition, and change and continuity can be easily observed here. The same is true of Kuzbari, a renowned center for aesthetic medicine in Vienna, which in the middle of the chic first district also books its patients in during their lunch break for microneedling or other minimally invasive treatments, some of which are also found in some first-class spas. If you ask here, you learn that the demand for such treatments has increased significantly, and that they are now booked by women and men alike. Unimaginable just a short time ago - so where does this come from?

Modern people, modern needs

Self-perception, as already touched upon by Lisa Marie Stangier, has changed. Dermatologist Dr. Golnaz Delir from the Kuzbari Center shares an exciting insight in the interview: "Social media have changed the view of the self a lot, especially the filters have caused a different image. Many patients have gained an ideal view of themselves that doesn't match reality. Then, last year, a new component was added: Zoom meetings. Many people were confronted with their talking, arguing selves for the first time - that also changed something. That's why the very first thing we do is put a mirror in our patients' hands, because we have to do a reality check first." This changed self-image may be due to the pandemic, as is the current drive for individual need satisfaction; however, it was apparent much earlier. Beauty as a positive paradigm has been replaced by charisma. Hardly any spa or medical center still advertises a "beautiful result." Everything has to be more catchy, people want concrete results. Accordingly, it is not surprising that the term wellness per se seems too fuzzy. People, as many studies and also the Global Wellness Summit confirm, want genuine attention, individual treatment and service with concrete results - as well as experiences that involve themselves.


Spatial design

However, inclusion does not end with the active participation of the guest or patient, but also includes nature and the premises in which, for example, a treatment or session takes place. Some hotels have already understood this and have opened up their retreats to the outside world and, above all, brought the spa up from the basement. The hotels of the Six Senses group are a good example of this, but the exceptional Tyrolean host Balthasar Hauser of the organic hotel "Stanglwirt" also understood early on that the size of a pool alone is not decisive for a successful water landscape - his shark pool was legendary and a prominent figurehead of a coherent concept that made it possible to experience wellness with all the senses. The interior plays an increasingly prominent role and virtually merges with the treatments to form a large whole. Indoor-outdoor experiences are also growing together; color is not only used for decorative wall design, but also for therapeutic purposes. Wellness destinations are increasingly becoming places for "emotional healing," also fueled by the pandemic. Architecture can also be spiritual - here, the trend towards the "Holistic Spas", which were perhaps initially more of a bubble or too vague in their concept, but today manifest themselves in concrete treatments that bring body, mind and soul into harmony. This is also spatial design, only on a meta-level.

From possibilities and prerequisites

As a kind of countermovement to the trend of holistic spas, new high-tech applications are currently forming that replace the therapist with devices and are suitable for efficiency-oriented people who are looking for simple ways to achieve quick results. And how could it be otherwise, there is also a counter-trend: Proportionally similar to this, the demand for high-touch applications is increasing. Lisa Marie Stangier from the "Interalpen-Hotel Tyrol" says: "It's more and more about individual attention, real contact and genuine care." Differentiation and individualization are, it becomes clear here, the order of the day. Dr. Golnaz Delir of the Kuzbari Center can also confirm this: "There used to be one standard nose in plastic surgery, but today there are many." The technical possibilities are also increasing, patient safety is at the forefront - and at the same time, forgotten knowledge is coming back, applications that work with all-natural ingredients are in vogue. And the industry is catching up: Not only is the technology constantly improving, new methods, devices, etc. are being added not only at a highly professional, medical level, but also at a more lifestylish level. If you want to get an insight into the cosmos of wellness "on a higher level", you have to get familiar with the lifestyle website "Goop" by Gwyneth Paltrow (by the way, the above "higher level" quote comes from her): The mixture of journalistically prepared topics plus actually very practical tips plus shopping of various obscurities (keyword vagina scented candle!) gives a good outline of current trends in the mainstream or in the industry as a whole.

Healthy lifestyle

At the end of the day, however, it still comes down to you. Wellbeing and happiness are more than just buzzwords in the industry, they now have an almost religious character - it's not for nothing that the little word "heal" is in "healing". The need for holistic healing is enormous, organizers are observing a boom in Medical Spas and also the length of stays is becoming longer and longer. Most guests now plan a visit to a medical spa on an annual basis; not only for physical fitness, but also for mental fitness. Houses such as the Fritsch Mental Spa above Bregenz took on a leading role in this respect a few years ago and recognized what is now slowly seeping through to the wider public: there is no physical health without mental health. So there are now also houses such as "Budersand" on the island of Sylt, where you can combine your vacation with couples therapy. Why people prefer to do this on vacation rather than at home is obvious: they dare more in a foreign country, and in a protected environment anyway. Dominik Babel, owner of the Elegant Travel agency, emphasizes: "A spa experience also has something to do with seclusion. In a beautiful, remote environment, you also like to allow for new things." Allowing and trying new things fits into this concept of self-awareness. Why not reinvent yourself, as you can already do thanks to filters on Instagram? Stars like Gwyneth Paltrow prove just how this can be done: The Oscar winner is no longer a household name for a younger generation as an actress, but exclusively as a wellness guru. 

Best of Treatments

  • High-tech treatments
    Hypoxy applications, cryotherapy face masks and Normatec boots are currently state of the art. These are joined by cold chambers and new devices such as the "MLX i³Dome", as already used in the "Palazzo Fiuggi" is used.
  • High Touch Treatments
    The value of real touch is currently much more appreciated again. Applications are no longer performed, but rituals are celebrated - a good example of this is the Lomi-Lomi massage.
  • Holistic applications
    "Holistic" is the buzzword of the hour, and while every spa defines the term a little differently, it's always about the combination of mind, body and spirit. Treatments like sound healing and craniosacral therapy are ideally suited for skeptics. They are joined by forms of therapy that have been around for a long time but were at home in the esoteric corner, such as aroma and color therapy.
  • Balancing instead of boosting
    A big trend in recent years is infusions. Even though they provide an instant effect, they are particularly beneficial to health, especially in the long term. Breathing techniques and meditation are increasingly coming into focus as new sources of strength alongside sports.

©Tyso Sadlo

This article appeared in the Falstaff TRAVEL issue SPA Special 2021.

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