Spas in UAE: a nice stretch

Remember the next time when you lean on a chair after a hard day’s work, or simply decide to have a day off, just grab your smartphone and check for the nearest spa in your vicinity and have some ‘me-time’. Mind you there are many like you who are contributing to the UAE’s booming spa industry, which has been ranked among the best in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region by Millennial Capital in its ‘MENA Spa Report 2017’.
The report highlights that the UAE is the most developed spa market and accounts for over 14 per cent revenue share of the Mena spa market. Despite the fact that the UAE constitutes only two per cent of the Mena population, the high spending per capita is a result of the development of the spa ecosystem comprised of 687 operating spas employing 20,606 people. The average revenue per spa in UAE is $0.6 million with an average treatment revenue per room of Dh200, Dh325 and Dh425 for mid-scale, up-scale and luxury spas respectively. The reports has based its analysis on categories like club spa, day spa, destination spa, medical spa, mineral spa and resort/hotel spa.
The global spa industry is a USD 99 billion dollar industry which is growing at 2.3 per cent per annum and offers employment to over 2.2 million people worldwide. The MENA spa industry grew 5 times faster than the rest of the world over the historical period of 2013-15 and is forecasting a staggering CAGR of 21.6 per cent by 2019.
“We’ve seen a clear rise in health and wellness brands in the UAE, appearing as a natural evolution of the spa industry, with the body and mind connection being more closely linked than ever, worldwide. In fast-paced Dubai with hyper-connectivity to work and life’s demands, people are time-starved and stressed. We’re all looking for moments to ‘quickly relax’ and desire to bring more health and wellness into any and all forms of escape. Savvy brands have clued into this and are consciously crafting brand experiences for their clients that live up to gold-star spa standards and exceed expectations, every time,” says Jennifer Watson, founder and managing director, Bloom Branding.
Among spa operating models, the hotel operated spa remains the most common in the UAE with a 80 per cent representation as it provides safety of existent infrastructure despite the fact that it entails a higher capital requirement towards the development of the proposed concept/brand.
According to Mena Spa Report 2017, the owner built and operated spa is the second most frequent operating model due to its lower capital intensive requirements despite presenting a high risk from a service quality and infrastructure perspective.
Millennial Capital highlights that the spa franchise model, in its infancy in the UAE, is an emerging trend based on our proprietary investment criteria, which includes a detailed assessment of capital requirement, quality of the infrastructure and management, service, earnings and profitability and is well suited for new operators in the MENA markets. Currently, 65 per cent of spas are outsourcing their management to spa management companies as a result of the current lack of efficiency and service quality. Branded standalone spa chains are a key investment trend as they benefit from brand loyalty and are often associated with quality with a low capital intensive value proposition. A gap is seen in the midscale segment, especially in Abu Dhabi targeting male customer but also organic spa concepts which are hugely in demand among other key insights which are presented in the MENA Spa Report 2017.
Watson’s client Be Bar – Blow Dry Bar, has elevated the hair salon experience and entered into the territory of spa-like sanctuary with multiple customer touch points and details.
“We now see familiar spa brands, independents, and those from hotel chains (both luxury and mid-tier) popping up at events with their ‘mobile spas’, offering express services to help us relax and indulge in a quick pampering, while of course heightening their own brand awareness and ideally getting new customers through their doors for full services in the short-term.”
“With the purpose of using a spa now extending across stress management, beauty treatments, pampering, fitness, cosmetic, dentistry, grooming and more in Dubai, we’ll continue to see a rise in brands who exist to cater to and capitalise on the spa and wellness trend,” adds Watson.
Asha Dodhia Murthy, owner, Aroushi Beauty Salon & Spa, says: “The spa industry in the UAE is definitely growing. The fast paced environment in which the UAE is growing is encouraging people to invest in their health and well-being. This has definitely supported the growth of the beauty and spa industry. Ideal geographical location works as an advantage to availability of economical service providers as skilled labor. The influx of people into the country as a growing nation and also an increase in medical tourism has helped support the spa industry as an adjacent business. The boom in hospitality business has opened doors to many top spa brands from world over. Confluence of a multitude of nationalities has created a demand for specific needs and the global awareness of personal care contributing to the growth of the industry. Also availability of world class quality products with health benefits promotes the image of the industry and attracts the consumer with a varied choice.”
The spa report further brings the gender profile highlighting around 53 per cent of women who visit spa and 47 per cent men who visit spa. Recently The Burj Club Spa for Men opened offering a range of new treatments from Dh450 for all 60-minute treatments of your choice. There are around 13 per cent spas only for men, 81 per cent for Unisex Spas and 6 per cent for only female spas.
Among the GCC tourists, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait figure in top nationalities and globally the UK, USA and Europe-mainly France and Asia visit spas regularly. The age profile of customers show that 39 per cent of the spa goers are aged between 30-39 and 32 per cent are aged 40-49 years.
Astrid Ellis, founder of Shower Tower, said: “Staycation became a big thing lately in the UAE bringing relaxation right in front of your doorstep without the hassle of travelling far, spending long hours at airports, the immigration, waiting for luggage and finding transportation. Dubai is known for its luxurious hotels that rank amongst the best in the world hosting some of the greatest Spas. Spending ‘me-time’ is getting much more attention these days and people understand its value. We live our lives at such fast speed that it became tremendously important to find the right way to balance. A spa visit makes a perfect treat to relax from a hectic and demanding lifestyle. We can choose from various options to find the one that suits our needs best. We find bliss right in front of our doorsteps. I have my favorite places here in the city that I love to visit. Arriving at a spa makes you feel like starting a miniature holiday. I love my me-time at my favorite spas.”