Spa Life UK 2024: European Spa’s top takeaways

Delegates gathered at the Old Thorns Hotel & Resort, in Liphook, for the annual event from June 24-25


By Wendy Golledge

03 July 2024

Spa Life UK 2024 set out to bring together senior spa and wellness professionals, and brands that support them, at the Old Thorns Hotel & Resort in Liphook.

As well as a day of dedicated one-to-one meetings, there was an educational speaker programme, networking and annual the Good Spa Guide Awards dinner.

Winners of the 2024 Good Spa Guide Awards are detailed here.

Man and two women smiling through selfie frame
From left: Erin Lee, Alina Hernandez and Nigel Franklyn from the Touchless Wellness Association. Image: Martin Janes
From left: Kay Pennington, Mark Smith, Laura Meeson and Claire Dickens at the Good Spa Guide Awards

The spa industry turned out in force for the event. Brands showcasing new products and innovations included Grown Alchemist, Germaine de Capuccini, Temple Spa, Ellisons, Elemis and Gerrard International.

They were joined by [comfort zone], Journey, JK Group, ESPA, Sothys, Voya and BC SoftWear.

New sponsors this year included Bramley Products, Evolve Organic Beauty, Prism Light Pod, Kelda, QMS Medicosmetics and Pevonia.

Thought-provoking takeaways

Speakers at the event included a pioneer in the field of sustainable business, Davide Bollati, chair of Davines Group, as well as UKSA general manager Bobby Griffiths.

JK Wellness exhibits the Wellsystem Wave at Spa Life UK

#1. Helping teens to access wellness

During their keynote session, Global Wellness Summit Trends report author, Jane Kitchen, and founder of Myndstream, Freddie Moross, examined The Future of Wellness.

Among the trends highlighted, they talked about the rise in night-time programming, teen and festival wellness and how wellness can better support men.

“The safe spaces that wellness creates for women; it’s now time to open them up for men,” said Moross.

“We’re facing an epidemic of loneliness; social connections are breaking down,” added Kitchen. “All over the world there’s a teen mental health epidemic. We can bring mindfulness to them. Historically we have catered to 25-65-year-olds, but this younger group really needs us now.”

A speaker on stage at a conference
Myndstream's founder Freddie Moross highlighted trends from The Future of Wellness report

#2. Achieving prosperous longevity

Chair of Davines Group, Davide Bollati gave insight into how spas can make their businesses more resilient and rooted, with the end goal of achieving greater sustainability in the spa and wellness industry.

“Today, spa-goers are looking for places to regenerate themselves, which guarantee the respect of the planet and its resources. To grow a stronger tree you need stronger roots; sustainability is about whole system thinking,” he said.

“Set clear goals and consider sustainability as a never-ending journey with economy, society and environment all intertwined. Monitor, measure and report on key areas.

“True sustainability requites strong ties with your local community and, for a real regenerative approach, you can’t move forwards without considering your main footprints – your raw materials, water and energy usage, and waste management.”

Chair of Davines Group, Davide Bollati, talked about achieving true sustainability in spas

#3 Let’s talk about men

Chaired by The Spa PR Company’s Tracey Stapleton, a panel debate about men featured European Spa’s Mark Smith, Carden Park’s spa director Emma Pridding and Paul Gerrard, founder of Happy Paul.

The key to targeting men, said Gerrard, is keeping it simple. “Be quick, succinct, direct and brief,” he explained. “Marketing for men should be less emotionally driven and more results-driven, and always visually led.”

Smith raised the point that men are much more likely to frequent spas now, but misconceptions still abound. “Staff can often be patronising and assume men don’t know anything about spa, and won’t buy products. Men go to spas for the same reasons as women – anxiety and stress relief, pampering, rest and recovery.”

Smith recommended that spas research what wellness content men are seeing and seeking on social media – for example, there has been a 200% increase in men searching for male-only spa retreats.

“Make sure you include male-focused images in marketing, too,” he said. “It’s amazing how often men are blurred out in the background while women take centre stage in marketing imagery.”

A panel debate chaired by Tracey Stapleton explored how spas cater for male guests
Bobby Griffiths, the UK Spa Association’s general manager, revealed results from the State of the Industry Spa Snapshot Survey

#4 Spa Snapshot Survey

Closing the speaker sessions for 2024, the UK Spa Association’s general manager, Bobby Griffiths, presented the results from the State of the Industry Spa Snapshot Survey – the first since 2006.

The results revealed that recruitment remains a serious issue, with almost half of spas struggling to fill vacant therapist positions.

“Put simply, credible industry data equals better decisions and planned strategies, which in turn, equates to maximised opportunities and revenue generation,” said Griffiths

“It is absolutely crucial that we compare and evaluate ourselves as an industry. What are your competitors up to and others in your market segment? What are the challenges, are your neighbours facing the same issues? If we don’t know where we are, how can we plan a route for where we are going?”

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