Ask an expert
Spa design 2030

COVID-19 is going to act as a catalyst for innovation in spa design, both immediately and in years to come. Experts give their predictions about pandemic-proof models


COVID-19 has changed our industry – and our world – in myriad ways. Across the globe, spas are scrambling to keep up with new rules and regulations on hygiene and protocols as they slowly begin to reopen in the midst of an ongoing pandemic. Social distancing, cleanliness and health and safety guidelines are at the top of everyone’s mind right now, but what about the future of spa design beyond that?

How is what we’re facing now going to change innovation in the future? From new surfaces and materials to advances in technology, a renewed focus on clean air and circulation, and an emphasis on biophilic design – many of these things were trends already in the making, but have now been accelerated as we try to get a grip on the best way to do business moving forward.

And as scientists warn us that even after a vaccine for COVID-19, there are sure to be more diseases on the horizon, we wonder – what is the ultimate pandemic-proof business model for spas? How do you design for a world in which so much remains uncertain and unknown? We reached out to some of the top names in spa design to get their thoughts.

Matteo Thun
Founder, Matteo Thun & Partners

Stringent hygiene and generous space will be a top priority for interior spa design. Besides private treatment rooms, the layout of high-traffic social spaces will be revisited in terms of proportions that allow for social distancing and an intuitive access to sanitisers and wash basins throughout the design. The size, location and ventilation of spaces will become critical considerations in keeping guests safe and healthy, with state-of-the-art air purifiers integrated into and hidden within the architecture.

Immune-boosting features will become a focal point, and we’ll see the introduction of innovative treatments and superfoods in F&B packages in hotels. Virtuality will direct our lives, and we will use technology to do most things we used to do in person.

We must now bring in safety-conscious procedures that will involve modifying layouts to include personal distancing and the need for modularity and flexibility resulting from it, with thermo scanners, touch-free doors and surfaces, sanitised air conditioning units, more indoor greenery, sealed flooring, walls and ceilings, and so much more.

Immune-boosting features will become a focal point... Virtuality will direct our lives and we’ll use technology to do most things we used to do in person

In the current and future scenario, the focus on one’s inner self will be of high importance in order to nurture and stimulate inner peace rather than social interactions. A warm and humane atmosphere will and can be easily conveyed through natural materials, lush indoor air purifying greenery and of course, timelessness.

• Known for his wellbeing approach, Matteo Thun set up his architecture and design studio in 1984. The Milan-based firm works internationally in hospitality, healthcare, residential, office and retail sectors.

www.matteothun.com

Claire Way
Managing director, Spa Strategy

We’re at the beginning of a new juncture of disease and design, where confidence controls what kind of space we want to be in. Physical spacing and sanitisation will drive the design of wellness spaces moving forward. Where development budgets once allocated more to the aesthetics of the space and less to how the mechanics of it could improve health, in a post-COVID-19 world, these less visually appealing items will demand a larger slice of the budget.

HVAC systems with individual controls that ensure air is separate from other rooms will become the norm, limiting cross contamination. Innovation in material finishes will be sought from the medical field, where developments in antimicrobial surfaces such as copper-laced flooring and the use of silver compounds will continue to inspire new innovations that also offer antiviral properties. One such potential development from Manchester University in the UK uses sugar to create a broad-spectrum virucidal antiviral. This is currently being considered as an ingestible or topical application, but who knows what direction this innovation could take; sugar, long seen as the enemy in wellness, could provide a non-toxic antiviral solution.

Material finishes will be sought from the medical field – think antimicrobial copper-laced flooring and silver compounds with antiviral properties

Adoption of technologies such as RFID-activated doors and lockers, sensor-activated taps and hand dryers, and voice-activated lighting will become standard. Carpets and window coverings will be eliminated in favour of hard surfaces that are easy to clean. And gender-specific hydrothermal spaces in the changing rooms will give way to larger, co-ed areas that move guests into a space that allows for easier management of physical spacing.

Finally, there’s been much talk about biophilic design and moving towards an integrated wellness offering throughout the hotel, spa and exterior spaces. Now is the time to embrace this movement. Spa design of the future needs to be more adaptive and resilient to ensure the business model can accommodate the unknowns before us.

• Claire Way leads Spa Strategy’s extensive work in the strategic planning, programming and design of spas worldwide.

www.spastrategy.net

Diana F Mestre
Owner, Mestre & Mestre Spa & Wellness Consulting

Ontological design is a concept that describes the circularity or feedback loops inherent in the way we design our lives. We shape the world and spaces we inhabit and they, in turn, mould us, changing our behaviour and lifestyle. In other words, what we design is designing us back. We mirror the environment we create, and our ethical responsibility is to create future structures that will improve our existence.

Based on this, the outlook in spa design will incorporate a myriad of elements impacted by technological advancements, sustainability, the science of longevity and life extension. Such design will respond to the need for better ventilation, improved oxygen-infused airflow and advanced antimicrobial materials, including antiviral coatings and surfaces. It will incorporate water quality, biophilic design and flexible outdoor spaces that allow reconnection with nature. Design must be enhanced by sustainable, energy-efficient strategies like solar and geothermal technology and botanical herbal spa gardens.

Spa design will incorporate a myriad of elements impacted by technological advancements, sustainability, the science of longevity and life extension

We will also see spatial reconfiguration and multisensory experience spaces based more on psychological and physiological responses to stimuli, such as neuro-dreaming and mind-renewal hubs. There will be an increased interest in genomics and DNA analysis and personalised programmes created to improve health, nutrition, and fitness. Quantum rooms, where noninvasive magnetic resonance diagnosis brings the latest technology to repair and renew the body, will be seen in more and more spas.

However, in spite of all the future technological advancements, it’s vital to remember that we need the connection to others, to nature, and to ourselves in order to thrive. Creating safe wellness spaces where we can nurture these connections remains at the foundation of future wellness design.

• Diana F Mestre has more than 35 years of experience in the development of spa and wellness projects.

www.mestre-spa-mestre.com

Josephine Leung
Group director of design & development, GOCO Hospitality

COVID-19 has already forced a shift in what we find important in spa design. As guests become acutely aware of health, safety and cleanliness, the spa must adapt to fulfil these needs. Resilient design, a concept that will one day be as common as universal design is today, allows spaces of all kinds to be adaptable in even the most unforeseen circumstances.

In the wake of the pandemic, I see spas and wellness destinations utilising design and technology in new and innovative ways to create guest journeys that are focused more on health and immunity enhancement, and performed in guest-centric spa treatment suites, where therapists and treatments come to them.

Through wearable tech, digital integrations with smart building management systems will be used to enhance the wellness experience, adjusting lighting, temperature, music and aromas to synchronise with the physical state of the guest.

Resilient design allows spaces of all kinds to be adaptable in even the most unforeseen circumstances

When it comes to cleanliness through design, spas will need to walk a thin line between necessary changes and overcompensation. Interior fittings and furniture coverings will need to be easy enough to clean, or even self-cleaning. In the near future, in-room UV light fixtures that sterilise entire spa suites and touchless processes, from opening doors to checking-in, will become standard.

We’re already working on several projects that incorporate resilient, sustainable design to create unique and adaptable wellness spaces that I believe will be the precursor to a new design movement that we like to call resilient wellness. Whether the future needs more privacy or our pent-up need for intimacy and community flourishes, the spas of the future will need to be designed in a resilient way that allows for both eventualities, individually and simultaneously.

• Josephine Leung works on concept creation, master planning, strategy, programming and technical services for GOCO’s spa and wellness projects.

www.gocohospitality.com

• Jane Kitchen is a consulting editor for Spa Business magazine, and the editor of the annual Spa Business Handbook

For more on this subject, please see our expanded section on Spa Design 2030 in the 2021 Spa Business Handbook, due out later this year

 


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SELECTED ISSUE
Spa Business
2020 issue 3

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Leisure Management - Spa design 2030

Ask an expert

Spa design 2030


COVID-19 is going to act as a catalyst for innovation in spa design, both immediately and in years to come. Experts give their predictions about pandemic-proof models

Now is the time to embrace biophilic design, such as Aidia Studio’s catcus inspired hospitality pod

COVID-19 has changed our industry – and our world – in myriad ways. Across the globe, spas are scrambling to keep up with new rules and regulations on hygiene and protocols as they slowly begin to reopen in the midst of an ongoing pandemic. Social distancing, cleanliness and health and safety guidelines are at the top of everyone’s mind right now, but what about the future of spa design beyond that?

How is what we’re facing now going to change innovation in the future? From new surfaces and materials to advances in technology, a renewed focus on clean air and circulation, and an emphasis on biophilic design – many of these things were trends already in the making, but have now been accelerated as we try to get a grip on the best way to do business moving forward.

And as scientists warn us that even after a vaccine for COVID-19, there are sure to be more diseases on the horizon, we wonder – what is the ultimate pandemic-proof business model for spas? How do you design for a world in which so much remains uncertain and unknown? We reached out to some of the top names in spa design to get their thoughts.

Matteo Thun
Founder, Matteo Thun & Partners

Stringent hygiene and generous space will be a top priority for interior spa design. Besides private treatment rooms, the layout of high-traffic social spaces will be revisited in terms of proportions that allow for social distancing and an intuitive access to sanitisers and wash basins throughout the design. The size, location and ventilation of spaces will become critical considerations in keeping guests safe and healthy, with state-of-the-art air purifiers integrated into and hidden within the architecture.

Immune-boosting features will become a focal point, and we’ll see the introduction of innovative treatments and superfoods in F&B packages in hotels. Virtuality will direct our lives, and we will use technology to do most things we used to do in person.

We must now bring in safety-conscious procedures that will involve modifying layouts to include personal distancing and the need for modularity and flexibility resulting from it, with thermo scanners, touch-free doors and surfaces, sanitised air conditioning units, more indoor greenery, sealed flooring, walls and ceilings, and so much more.

Immune-boosting features will become a focal point... Virtuality will direct our lives and we’ll use technology to do most things we used to do in person

In the current and future scenario, the focus on one’s inner self will be of high importance in order to nurture and stimulate inner peace rather than social interactions. A warm and humane atmosphere will and can be easily conveyed through natural materials, lush indoor air purifying greenery and of course, timelessness.

• Known for his wellbeing approach, Matteo Thun set up his architecture and design studio in 1984. The Milan-based firm works internationally in hospitality, healthcare, residential, office and retail sectors.

www.matteothun.com

Claire Way
Managing director, Spa Strategy

We’re at the beginning of a new juncture of disease and design, where confidence controls what kind of space we want to be in. Physical spacing and sanitisation will drive the design of wellness spaces moving forward. Where development budgets once allocated more to the aesthetics of the space and less to how the mechanics of it could improve health, in a post-COVID-19 world, these less visually appealing items will demand a larger slice of the budget.

HVAC systems with individual controls that ensure air is separate from other rooms will become the norm, limiting cross contamination. Innovation in material finishes will be sought from the medical field, where developments in antimicrobial surfaces such as copper-laced flooring and the use of silver compounds will continue to inspire new innovations that also offer antiviral properties. One such potential development from Manchester University in the UK uses sugar to create a broad-spectrum virucidal antiviral. This is currently being considered as an ingestible or topical application, but who knows what direction this innovation could take; sugar, long seen as the enemy in wellness, could provide a non-toxic antiviral solution.

Material finishes will be sought from the medical field – think antimicrobial copper-laced flooring and silver compounds with antiviral properties

Adoption of technologies such as RFID-activated doors and lockers, sensor-activated taps and hand dryers, and voice-activated lighting will become standard. Carpets and window coverings will be eliminated in favour of hard surfaces that are easy to clean. And gender-specific hydrothermal spaces in the changing rooms will give way to larger, co-ed areas that move guests into a space that allows for easier management of physical spacing.

Finally, there’s been much talk about biophilic design and moving towards an integrated wellness offering throughout the hotel, spa and exterior spaces. Now is the time to embrace this movement. Spa design of the future needs to be more adaptive and resilient to ensure the business model can accommodate the unknowns before us.

• Claire Way leads Spa Strategy’s extensive work in the strategic planning, programming and design of spas worldwide.

www.spastrategy.net

Diana F Mestre
Owner, Mestre & Mestre Spa & Wellness Consulting

Ontological design is a concept that describes the circularity or feedback loops inherent in the way we design our lives. We shape the world and spaces we inhabit and they, in turn, mould us, changing our behaviour and lifestyle. In other words, what we design is designing us back. We mirror the environment we create, and our ethical responsibility is to create future structures that will improve our existence.

Based on this, the outlook in spa design will incorporate a myriad of elements impacted by technological advancements, sustainability, the science of longevity and life extension. Such design will respond to the need for better ventilation, improved oxygen-infused airflow and advanced antimicrobial materials, including antiviral coatings and surfaces. It will incorporate water quality, biophilic design and flexible outdoor spaces that allow reconnection with nature. Design must be enhanced by sustainable, energy-efficient strategies like solar and geothermal technology and botanical herbal spa gardens.

Spa design will incorporate a myriad of elements impacted by technological advancements, sustainability, the science of longevity and life extension

We will also see spatial reconfiguration and multisensory experience spaces based more on psychological and physiological responses to stimuli, such as neuro-dreaming and mind-renewal hubs. There will be an increased interest in genomics and DNA analysis and personalised programmes created to improve health, nutrition, and fitness. Quantum rooms, where noninvasive magnetic resonance diagnosis brings the latest technology to repair and renew the body, will be seen in more and more spas.

However, in spite of all the future technological advancements, it’s vital to remember that we need the connection to others, to nature, and to ourselves in order to thrive. Creating safe wellness spaces where we can nurture these connections remains at the foundation of future wellness design.

• Diana F Mestre has more than 35 years of experience in the development of spa and wellness projects.

www.mestre-spa-mestre.com

Josephine Leung
Group director of design & development, GOCO Hospitality

COVID-19 has already forced a shift in what we find important in spa design. As guests become acutely aware of health, safety and cleanliness, the spa must adapt to fulfil these needs. Resilient design, a concept that will one day be as common as universal design is today, allows spaces of all kinds to be adaptable in even the most unforeseen circumstances.

In the wake of the pandemic, I see spas and wellness destinations utilising design and technology in new and innovative ways to create guest journeys that are focused more on health and immunity enhancement, and performed in guest-centric spa treatment suites, where therapists and treatments come to them.

Through wearable tech, digital integrations with smart building management systems will be used to enhance the wellness experience, adjusting lighting, temperature, music and aromas to synchronise with the physical state of the guest.

Resilient design allows spaces of all kinds to be adaptable in even the most unforeseen circumstances

When it comes to cleanliness through design, spas will need to walk a thin line between necessary changes and overcompensation. Interior fittings and furniture coverings will need to be easy enough to clean, or even self-cleaning. In the near future, in-room UV light fixtures that sterilise entire spa suites and touchless processes, from opening doors to checking-in, will become standard.

We’re already working on several projects that incorporate resilient, sustainable design to create unique and adaptable wellness spaces that I believe will be the precursor to a new design movement that we like to call resilient wellness. Whether the future needs more privacy or our pent-up need for intimacy and community flourishes, the spas of the future will need to be designed in a resilient way that allows for both eventualities, individually and simultaneously.

• Josephine Leung works on concept creation, master planning, strategy, programming and technical services for GOCO’s spa and wellness projects.

www.gocohospitality.com

• Jane Kitchen is a consulting editor for Spa Business magazine, and the editor of the annual Spa Business Handbook

For more on this subject, please see our expanded section on Spa Design 2030 in the 2021 Spa Business Handbook, due out later this year


Originally published in Spa Business 2020 issue 3

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