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History of Resort and Spa Industry in Australia

Discuss about the Resort And Spa Industry In Australia.

The rapid growth of the Resort and Spa Industry across the globe has increased the demand for highly skilled business and management personnel who excels in educating as well as empowering their clients and staff alike. As the manager of a resort or spa, one holds the responsibility of managing the overall operations and providing quality customer experience. The manager is also expected to achieve financial targets and deal with the feedback from the customer. This essay aims to explore the workflow of this wellness service industry in Australia. In the beginning, it attempts to examine the history and development of resort and spa industry in Australia and what impact it had on the Australian economy since then. Then some of the internal and external factors which affect the planning process of this industry have been discussed, followed by an evaluation of the major paradigmatic shifts in the industry and its current scenario. This will be followed by an assessment of the expectations of modern day customers from this industry.

The beginning of resorts and spas dates back to the Roman Empire of 2nd century BCE when there was a proliferation of public baths in Rome. The first significant resort was made in Belgium in the year 1326 at a place named Spa, by an ironmaster named Colin le Loup (Podp?ra, 2014). The word ‘spa’ originally meant fountain. However, in modern parlance it has come to represent a holistic concept of physical and mental recreation or well-being. This trend came to Australia in the 19th century through the hands of European immigrants and carved a niche in the springs of Hepburn and Daylesford in Victoria (Goulding, R., Horan, & Tozzi, 2014). However, it was not before the latter half of the 20th century that this industry gained prominence in Australia. Today, some of the world’s best resorts and spas are located in Australia like the ‘Park Hyatt, Sydney’ which offers a wonderful view of the Sydney Opera House, or the ‘Hayman One & Only’ which has in its repository a spa facility in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef. The wellness industry in Australia is therefore experiencing a rapid growth in terms of economy as well. The rising popularity of this industry both among foreign tourists as well as the residents of Australia has significantly boosted its economy (van den Eynde, 2017). The rising demand for services offered by this industry can be attributed to growing concern of the people about their appearance and health issues. A realization of the medical costs resulting from unhealthy modern lifestyle has pushed the modern man more towards the relaxation and rejuvenation offered by the wellness industry. The impact of the services offered by the resort and spa industry extends beyond the borders of the resorts and spa centres and has a direct impact on people’s home as well as work environment. With an ever widening client base, which includes single men, single women, couples, families and corporate users as well, the revenue outcome of this industry is expected to rise at a rate of around 3% per year for over the next five years, reaching up to an annual turnover of approximately $440 million (van den Eynde, 2017). In spite of the growing productivity of the industry as a whole, the profitability of each of the resorts and spas has slightly gone down due to a constantly rising competition. However, such challenges could neither keep new entrants in this sector at bay, nor could it prevent existing units from make a good profit.

Factors affecting the planning process of the industry


As a result of the huge competition for a better market share, there are several factors that professionals take into consideration for the planning and development of a resort or spa. An ever-growing population of middle-class citizens results in a constant expansion of the consumer base for the resort and spa sector of the wellness industry. The rise in income of these citizens beyond the level of their basic needs results in the expenditure of this extra fund for travel and well-being, making way for the economic growth of resorts and spas (Lai, & Hitchcock, 2016). The business of the resort and spa industry is directly dependent on the size and distribution of population in the country. They are therefore more abundantly found in places like New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. Besides the larger cities, smaller regional locations also provide adequate means for the establishment of resorts and spas. Also, places in South Australia provide a favourable location for them due to the presence of established wine industries there, hence a dual attraction for tourists and travellers have the possibility of financial benefits for both. Besides the provision of quality services, there are many resorts and spas in Australia which are located in exotic locations. The SPASA (Swimming Pool and Spa Association of Australia) is a leading figures of this industry on a national scale. Its works ranges across provisions of pool building, supply and retail, technical service and allied trades. It ensures ethical work and business of the industry. The Australian Academy of Beauty and Spa Therapy had a significant role to play in this regard. It is a government accredited, privately owned company which has been engaged in the work of producing highly efficient professionals for the spa industry in Australia. The Crown Resorts in Australia, one of the most urban and posh members of the industry, is reported of having a 9.9% hike in its normalised revenue, that is from 3,231.3 million dollars to 3,584.9 million dollars, in the year 2017 (Jia, Munro, & Buckby 2016). Perhaps the biggest boost to the resort and spa industry was provided by the busy lifestyle and continued stress from improper work-life balance, all of which has resulted from the rapid technological growth in the recent past. The recent development of this industry can therefore be partially attributed to the tendency of professionals to mitigate the stress in their personal lives and a search for alternative therapeutic treatments for physical and mental well-being. The Shangri-La in Sydney, New South Wales, is of Chinese origin and offers a provision of deep relaxation which involves spiritual reawakening, which attracts a fairly large number of crowd. However, since this industry runs mostly on private ownership, there is a risk of their being severely affected by inflation or changes in tax laws. Other significant challenges to this industry include the emotionally challenging job of reluctantly putting up a feigned intimacy with the clients by the therapists on certain occasions. There is also the risk of negotiating the sexual boundaries as one has to deal with the naked human body. In spite of these risks and drawbacks prominent names like ‘The Byron Resort and Spa’, ‘Sapphire Spas’, ‘Leisurescape Spas’ (it won two Awards of Excellence in 2017), ‘Lizard Island Resort’, ‘Maax Spa’, along with those mentioned above and many more continue to draw a significant profit for the Resort and Spa industry in Australia.  

Paradigmatic shifts in the industry and its current scenario


In the modern wellness industry, there are various aspects which comprise the workflow of the resort and spa sector. The recent developments of the spa industry in the last fifty-years saw a development in the variety of facilities provided, which includes various kinds of messages, facials, salon services, body treatments, water-based treatments, yoga retreats, health assessments, spiritual services and many others, along with the sale of products that are specific to these treatments. The recent trends of ‘baby spas’, especially meant for toddlers, is a significant addition to this industry. While some of the resorts offer highly decorated and technologically advanced facilities like hydrotherapy and artificially made steam baths, some others make use of natural water from hot springs to entertain their visitors. This is often followed up by the sale of ancillary products made from natural local ingredients. Besides simple baths, the spa industry has come up with an array of healing sessions, yoga sessions, nature walks, meditations, and naturopathic consultations. The food offered is usually organic cuisine, sometimes with good quality of wine on the menu. Wine and local flora products are also used for healing purposes, especially in the alpine areas of the country. Two-third of the industry’s revenue goes to those resorts which offer services related to spa, besides providing bathing and other additional recreation facilities. Globalization seems to have a positive impact on this industry. This is clearly reflected in the various oriental and ethnic therapeutic techniques, which are not always Australian, like the Indian Ayurvedic methods or Chinese medicine and ‘tai chi’, are implemented by different spa centres across the country. The industry has seen a significant rise in number of male clients in the last few decades. This indicates a break in the gender stereotypes and growing interest of men in beauty and wellness treatments. Unlike women, these men are often seen accompanied by their spouse. Male customers are seen spending more on resorts and spas as compared to their female counterparts, the probable reason being a higher ratio of older males possessing more disposable income taking recourse to these facilities. While some resorts allow a free play of gluttony and debauchery to their customers, some other lay down rules and discipline and insist the customers to follow the same for their own benefits (Han, et al., 2017). The multicultural trends in Australia offer a favourable market for both. Spiritual retreats like ‘Vipasana’, located in Blackheath, New South Wales attract more people every day who are in search of relief from their daily stress of both professional as well as personal lives (Eddy, 2014). It offers an alternative way of holistic wellness service.

Expectations of modern day customers from the industry


A growing population of wellness-minded people are looking to integrate healthy habits in their daily lifestyle to get rid of negativities like insomnia, excess of work-related stress, unhealthy food habits and the like. The root of the development of the current spa industry lies in the people’s preference of hot springs or thermal springs with high mineral content, for the purpose of bathing, physical and mental healing, socializing and for spiritual development (Cohen, et al., 2017). This tradition continues till today as consumers, or resort and spa goers constantly seek natural or authentic experience based on the place of their visit, and being close to Mother Nature, which has proved to be therapeutic since ages (Kelly, & Smith, 2016).  As a result, majority of the services are developed around thermal or mineral springs, and has a higher share of the market in under them. The socializing aspect of spas has gained prominence over a period of time. Taking time out of their busy schedule, a lot of people visit spas with their friends and enjoys the treatment facilities as a means of socializing. Modern day consumers are looking for packages which offer wellness-related services to groups, as they prefer socializing while taking the treatments (Cloutier, 2015). The current as well as potential consumers of the resort and spa industry look for discounts in both group as well as individual packages offered. An ever-growing health-conscious population would prefer healthy cuisine in resorts and spas. There is a growing popularity for achievement of balance between mind and body through healthy eating habits. As a results healthy gourmets, snacks and juices are becoming increasingly popular among the spa-goers. Statistics show that the customers of the Asia-Pacific region, including Australia, has more demand for a better skin-care technologies over body treatments, which is preferred by Europeans. The Australian customers are more interested in result-oriented treatments rather than getting pampered (Moghimi, 2016). The growing demand for beauty treatments among both among male and female customers hints at their growing curiosity about the effects of these treatments. The results of these customised treatments must be clearly visible even after the treatments. Thai Message, Foot Message, Stone Message, Aromatherapy constitute the facilities most commonly offered by spas and availed by the customers. Modern innovative treatments include therapeutic treatments especially meant for tackling office related stress. 21st century has seen the evolution of medical spas where the medical and spa industry come together (Medhekar, 2017). They are quite different from others and require specially trained therapists. Major demands of the consumers include pleasant behaviour from the therapist, quick response to individual needs of the customers by service providers, and most importantly, the ability of the therapists to explain the procedure and benefits of the treatments.

Conclusions


In conclusion, it may said that the resort and spa industry has gone through a variety of changes since its inception, and is still evolving. Australia, although a late entrant in this particular sector, has achieved significant development in the last few decades and has a prominent market presence in this field. The Asia Pacific region ranks high in terms of the number of resorts and spas, and Australia ranks 6th among these countries taking into consideration the employment in this industry and its annual turnover. New developments in this sector has been fuelled by the growth of tourism both on the national as well as international scale. Spa-treatments are increasingly relied upon by customers as a panacea for their tough and hectic schedule. Significant economic growth in the country also drives customers to spend a lot on well-being. With new investments, resorts adjacent to hot springs have undergone significant improvement in terms of economic growth. The rising income of the middle class citizens of Australia has been hugely responsible for the growing economy of this sector. Several training centres therapists and management courses related to this field has improved the quality of services offered for the last few years. In spite certain potential challenges, the resort and spa industry in Australia is going through an upward curve in terms of productivity and profitability, and shows signs of marked improvements in the near future.

Reference List

Cloutier, J. A. (2015). The significance of community in wellness service design: the case of retreats (Doctoral dissertation, Tartu Ülikooli Pärnu Kolledž).

Cohen, M. M., Elliott, F., Oates, L., Schembri, A., & Mantri, N. (2017). Do wellness tourists get well? An observational study of multiple dimensions of health and well-being after a week-long retreat. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 23(2), 140-148.

Eddy, G. (2014). The Vipassana retreat experience: A consideration of the meditation retreat as a religious paradigm of travel. Literature & Aesthetics, 22(1).

Goulding, R., Horan, E., & Tozzi, L. (2014). The importance of sustainable tourism in reversing the trend in the economic downturn and population decline of rural communities. PASOS. Revista de turismo y patrimonio cultural, 12(3).

Han, H., Kiatkawsin, K., Kim, W., & Lee, S. (2017). Investigating customer loyalty formation for wellness spa: Individualism vs. collectivism. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 67, 11-23.

Jia, J., Munro, L., & Buckby, S. (2016). A finer-grained approach to assessing the “quality”(“quantity” and “richness”) of risk management disclosures. Managerial Auditing Journal, 31(8/9), 770-803.

Kelly, C., & Smith, M. K. (2016). Journeys of the self: the need to retreat.

Lai, I. K. W., & Hitchcock, M. (2016). A comparison of service quality attributes for stand-alone and resort-based luxury hotels in Macau: 3-Dimensional importance-performance analysis. Tourism Management, 55, 139-159.

Medhekar, A. (2017). Government policy initiatives for developing sustainable medical tourism industry. GSTF Journal on Business Review (GBR), 3(3).

Moghimi, S. (2016). Creativity and innovation in hotels and resorts: the role of leadership.

Podp?ra, D. (2014). The Analysis and Development of Spa Resorts in the Czech Republic (Doctoral dissertation, Vysoká škola hotelová v Praze).

van den Eynde, A. (2017). What’s good for some is not good for others? A critical inquiry into what constrains and drives wellbeing travel participation in Australia (Doctoral dissertation, Victoria University).

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