The changing face of wellness

Our very first assignment in the beauty sector was for the world’s biggest global consumer corporation in what was then called the Personal Care division. Now, the term personal care, whips up ideas of self-care, mindfulness and wellbeing and everyday beauty products, supplements, spas and treatments are becoming almost medicinal as the world around us becomes a more stressful place to live and to work in.

Today, the wellbeing industry constitutes a key part of the retail and consumer sector. Its take-off is best illustrated by the increasing value of the UK wellness market, which rose from over €20.5bn in 2015 to almost €23bn in 2018. The industry encapsulates everything from healthy eating, staying fit and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, to taking care of one’s mental and physical health. Indeed, the rest of the consumer world has only just begun to offer the type of plant-based and vegan menus that have been available at spas for a while. There is also a growing trend for gyms that occupy the middle ground between high-end training centres and luxury spas.

Fiona Golfar. Photo credit: The Times

In order to understand the sector currently and in particular, health spas and health farms better, we caught up with Fiona Golfar, who spent 25 years at Vogue as the Editor at Large and is a self-confessed, obsessive beauty and wellbeing addict. Together, with Dr Maryam Zamani, they have launched a podcast called The Guinea Pig. Fiona has always been in pursuit of the latest treatments and products, and she is renowned for virtually never saying no to any new product, treatment, or non-invasive cosmetic procedure. Spas and health farms in the UK are not anywhere near as good as those in the rest of Europe or Asia. She feels that the UK is missing a trick and whoever does a brilliant health farm or spa here, will clean up. Fiona told us, People do not want to get on a plane and fly somewhere to get healthy. We have all become conscious of our carbon footprint, we don’t want the jet lag and yet more and more people need to de-stress, lose weight and get healthy.

In her opinion, the best spa in Europe is Lanserhof in Austria. It has been around for 30 years and apparently it is the gold standard in naturopathy and modern medicine, paving the way to a healthier life. Surrounded by the most beautiful nature, a programme of holistic physical therapy is devised for each client. The ‘Lans Med Concept’ is recognised as one of the world’s most pioneering holistic health concepts. Lucky for some, Lanserhof is opening in London at the Arts Club, Mayfair in June. Two years ago, they acquired Greyshott, which is an hour out of London and we look forward to the transformation of Greyshott, to a Lanserhof spa.

Lanserhof Spa in Austria. Photo credit: Lanserhof

Places like Lanserhof are extremely expensive and time consuming – a minimum of a week is recommended and therefore there’s been a shift towards convenience and innovative mobile technology making it possible to create equally fulfilling and meaningful experiences without the need for huge hotel-scale spending. Along with the quality, the availability of treatments has exploded. With on-demand wellness apps like Urban Massage, who come to your house, you are never too far away from a spa treatment. Urban already offers its services in several British cities and Paris. After recently closing a $10m funding round, Urban is also planning to introduce fitness sessions to its offer.

Service-driven experiences are much more commonplace than they once were. In this rejuvenated atmosphere, the products and the experience are yours to share. A great example of this is FaceGym – ‘The original non-invasive facial workout’. Established two years ago by beauty journalist Inge Theron, FaceGym has built up an enthusiastic following in the U.K. and has expanded stateside in the past year. The company opened its U.S. flagship store in NYC’s NoHo neighborhood and a site in Los Angeles is expected imminently.

Trainers use their hands and tools to knead and tone your facial muscles. The idea is to firm up your face and sculpt it into an image of youthful exuberance. There are a series of workouts you can choose from, depending on how much time you have, the areas you want to focus on and the amount of money you want to spend. Like any gym session, FaceGym workouts have a regimen: warm-up, cardio, sculpting and cooldown – all of which are perfect material for Instagram ‘before and after’ shots.

Photo credit: FaceGym

The line between fitness and spa treatment has blurred. There are now gyms that occupy the middle group between, giving your muscles a good workout and then repairing them for great results. Take KX, Chelsea’s private members health club. Pronounced ‘Kicks’, the site comprises of a state-of-the-art gym, fitness studios and holistic spa.

In a similar way, world-famous Equinox operates under the premise that if you’re going to work out hard, rest is just as important for your wellbeing. That’s why the luxury fitness chain offers an outstanding gym, great class menus and even indoor and outdoor sea water pools. Equinox hotel rooms also feature sleep chambers with complete soundproofing and a total-blackout window system. These are designed for global executives who are used to working at all hours.

Over the next few years, it appears likely that spa and wellness businesses will begin to place even more emphasis on convenience and multi-use offers. This trend will no doubt be influenced by the great work-life balance debate of the twenty-first century. We at The MBS Group see this as an opportunity for wellness to become an investment opportunity, as well as a matter of employee health. | @MoiraBenigson | | @TheMBSGroup