SpaFinder Wellness has released its Top 10 list of trends for 2014. One of the most resonant is the trend of “wired wellness,” which we’re seeing in fitness trackers, online booking, online classes and the bountiful amount of fitness apps available.The trend is playing a significant role in keeping us healthy, especially in helping to combat the spiraling costs of healthcare. Here, SpaFinder Wellness’ other predictions.

Healthy Hotels:

This year, look for hotels to move from healthy as a marketing differentiator to deeper, more multi-faceted programming that stretches well beyond the “free stretch band.” The healthy hotel will ultimately become more inspired and comprehensive and move from virtuous exception to part of the hospitality vernacular. A recent SpaFinder Wellness 365 consumer survey found that 85 percent of people return from vacation less rejuvenated than when they left. In 2014, for example, Starwood will make moves with its more affordable, eco-focused Element brand, which will open outside North America beginning this year. Trump Hotels rolled out “Trump Wellness,” revolving around organic, vegan and gluten-free menus; in-room workout equipment; on-loan exercise clothes and equipment and maps/playlists for runners. And, Omni Hotels launched “Get Fit Kits” and “Get Fit Rooms” with features like treadmills.

Hot Springs Heating Up:

There’s never been a hotter moment for thermal springs. Italy, England, France, Bulgaria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Germany, Switzerland and Austria all have historic towns that have a thermal spa that are hubs of social and economic importance. And most of the exciting developments in Europe are coming from these traditional spa towns. The Gainsborough Bath Spa (Bath, UK) promises to be the only 5-star hotel in the UK with direct access to natural thermal waters. Opening spring 2014, the master suites in every room will have in-room thermal baths, and guests will be treated to daily massages. Leukerbad, a spa town in the Swiss Alps that dates back to 200AD, boasts the opening of 51° Spa Residences in 2015. Designed by renowned architecture firm, Michael Graves & Associates, this is the first spa residence to offer private in-home access to the thermal waters of the local springs, which are 51 degrees. Austria also boasts recent builds of hotels based around hot springs, and hot springs in Japan are big in every way, representing the single largest sector of the domestic tourism industry with more than 120 million visitors frequenting its more than 3,000 naturally occurring springs each year.

Wired Wellness:

It may have started with Polar heart monitors in the 1980s, but today’s devices, from companies such as Jawbone, Nike and FitBit, take our need for data to another level, delivering information on the number of steps we walk, miles we run, calories we burn and even the quality of our sleep. Fueled by our need to track data (a trend dubbed “Quantified Self,” meaning self knowledge through numbers), these trendy tracking devices are selling in droves – with total sales projected at 252 million units by 2017. Taking a closer look at online classes, a Google search for online yoga alone serves up over 30 million results. And the next generation of virtual classes will further change the way we workout and train. LiftSessions ( brings the live trainer experience into the home or hotel room so you never have to skip a work out again. Another source of digital and data fatigue could come from the huge number of mobile apps in this space – there are now close to 100,000 mobile health apps in 62 app stores.

Suspending Gravity:

People are having a deepening psychological and physical desire to escape from gravity’s relentless pull, and a distinct “suspending gravity” or “floating” trend is rising up. Spafinder Wellness is seeing more weightless, stress and mind-melting flotation tanks, chambers and pools at spas. On the fitness front: a global craze for aerial and anti-gravity classes and yoga, and new equipment like anti-gravity treadmills. And more spas are incorporating new technologies like anti-gravity massage beds and futuristic pods that simulate the experience of floating on a cloud. There’s also a new obsession with in- or on-water flotation experiences and fitness, from classes like aqua-spinning or stand-up paddleboard to new spa properties that actually float. And some downright space-age innovations include a planned Space Resort (Barcelona) where spa-goers will experience the world’s first “zero-gravity” spa. More anti-gravity treadmills are hitting gyms and spas, too. Standout brand AlterG, touting NASA-based anti-gravity technology, uses differential air pressure to lift up 80 percent of a person’s bodyweight, so “they can find where the pain stops and natural movement feels good again.”

Ferocious Fitness:

While name-brand fitness shows no sign of slowing down, a new “ferocious fitness” trend is on the rise, led by people who take fitness seriously and who compete to establish their own “personal bests,” frequently at semi-professional levels. Also driving this trend are popular High Intensity Interval Training Programs (HIIT), which add ferociousness in small bites and have become a mainstay for time-starved millions looking to take their fitness to the next level. A key aspect of this new ferocious fitness is fun, and for many enthusiasts, fitness becomes the major ingredient in their social life. As people discover that exercise can be much more than a monotonous (and lonely) 45 minutes on a treadmill, and they experience significant results while having a good time, expect to see even more ferocious fitness in the year ahead – and a new culture where people rush from work to join their running club or HIIT class.

Natural Beauty Meets Social:

A new era of beauty is focusing on the nude, the natural and a high-tech, low-risk beauty, where organic products, science and technology intersect to deliver minimal-downtime results that are seemingly produced by nature. In 2014 look for more spas promoting organic, non-toxic, “fume-free” manicures and pedicures as consumers become even more hip to chemicals – such as toluene, formaldehyde, and dibutyl phthalate (DBP) – used in many nail spas. In 2014 we’ll see an even greater focus on the gateway spa and beauty treatments – manicures and pedicures – and how they can be yet another aspect of a healthy lifestyle beyond calming breaks and a way to add color. Take, for instance, mani-pedi innovator Bastien Gonzalez, who helms his highly regarded Pedi: Mani:Cure studios in such places as France, Singapore, Turkey and India. Gonzalez’s treatments tout three pillars: podiatry, during which clients are given advice on how to take care of their feet; nail care, which focuses on strengthening and polishing nails by using Bastien’s grandmother’s technique of reshaping and buffing with chamois leather and pearl buffing cream; and finally a stress-busting, stimulating massage that improves blood circulation.

Aromatherapy: Scent With Intent:

Aromatherapy is moving in bold directions and playing a greater role in the treatment of pain, as a mood enhancer, in sleep therapy and to improve cognitive function. And it’s entering a new era of customization. In 2014, there will be a growing effort to craft an aromatherapy of intention, working in tandem with botanists and even high-tech digital technology. In addition, inspiring, local and natural scent will play a bigger role in the business world and in public spaces (restaurants, retail, hotels, hospitals). Call it beyond sachets and cinnamon candles. Over the last two years, sales of aromatherapy and body oil products in natural supermarkets grew 15% annually. Geraldine Howard, president of Aromatherapy Associates and creator of Inner Strength bath and body products, said, “Spas are moving away from the ‘fashionable and mainstream’ marketing ploy of aromatherapy and are beginning to use essential oils and the power of scent for their true purpose-sing quality products for their innate therapeutic healing qualities. And spas and wellness businesses are taking the ‘old aromatherapy’ in new directions.”

Wellness Retreats Rise & Urbanize:

In 2014 (and beyond), there will be more all-new destination spa properties, like the just-opened VANA in India’s Himalayan foothills. We’ll see revered brands go on an expansion march, whether Miraval from the U.S. or Lanserhof from Austria. We’ll see more headline-grabbing, hit-all-angles, big wellness “campus-palaces,” but we’ll see even more smaller wellness retreats at more (affordable) price points, and usually with more targeted angles: whether no-nonsense weight loss boot camps or rustic yoga retreats. Additionally, we’ll see so many more resorts add so much “destination spa” programming, that we may have to expand our idea of the “destination spa” beyond just a noun… to a “verb.”

Death & Spas: Thriving During Life’s Transitions:

A core part of spa’s DNA is personal connection and helping people cope with pain and stress. And in 2014, spas are starting to have the “death” conversation and help people cope with terminal illnesses, whether they are patients or caregivers. The core strengths and beliefs of the spa/wellness industry are also impacting the health care community and we are seeing hospitals and long-term care facilities break down the boundaries between hospitality and health care – and recognizing the power of touch and creating more soothing environments for the people under their care. Spa4ThePink teaches the spa industry how to work with end-of-life clients and to bring compassion to healing with cancer patients. The company has its own center that integrates mindfulness, meditation, yoga with spa services and presents immersive retreat experiences that teach cancer patients, nurses and spa professionals how to understand what mindfulness is and how to bring it in to their personal lives and teaching lifelong skills that they can practice anywhere.

Top 10 Surprising Spa & Wellness Destinations:

1. Asian Footprint Full Steam Ahead: Bhutan
2. Out of Africa Becomes Obsolete: Ghana

3. Central America Up & Comer – Beyond Costa Rica: Nicaragua

4. Expanding European Travel Plans: Portugal
5. Asian Footprint Full Steam Ahead – Part 2: Vietnam

6. Colombia

7. Croatia

8. Lithuania

9. Morocco

10. Saudi Arabia

For more information on the Top 10 SpaFinder Wellness 2014 Trends, please click here.