July 19, 2021

Restoring the spa and wellness industry’s health

Spa and wellness stakeholders from the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam shared one sad assessment during a recent online conference in Bangkok sponsored by the World Spa & Wellness, where I represented the Philippines: the sector has been severely affected by the COVID-19 epidemic.

I did a short poll among colleagues in the business who ran hotel spas, day spas, and resort spas in preparation for the nation update that I had to make. Consumers have chosen to remain at home in fear of contracting the COVID-19 virus, making day spas, both standalone and mall-based, especially badly affected.

My heart ached for colleagues who were forced to shut down their businesses owing to poor sales and rising overhead expenses. Owners of numerous locations kept a few open to offer some jobs, hoping beyond hope that the epidemic would stop soon and commerce would resume as usual.


Capacity constraints, treatment restrictions (facials, modified protocols for massage/body therapy that exclude work on the guest’s face, head, and hands), increased operational costs due to additional safety measures (staff staying in-house, fresh sets of personal protective equipment per guest, etc.) and the limited shelf life of facial and body treatment products have all had an impact on hotel spas.

When touch therapy was still banned, creative methods were developed to cope. The Retreat at Okada and Tirta Spa in Boracay now offer touchless treatments, including Sound Therapy.

Nurture Wellness Village and The Farm in San Benito, both near Manila and providing a broader range of services, were less impacted.

Nurture Wellness Village collaborated with Raintree Hospitality to manage its restaurant operations while spa services were limited due to quarantine regulations. The Farmer’s Table at Nurture Wellness Village was created, providing food choices for city people looking to get away from it all and appreciate nature.

With its well-heeled visitors enjoying beautiful settings and a broad variety of medical-wellness treatments, The Farm in San Benito did very well, even surpassing pre-epidemic sales.

The spa and wellness stakeholders of the Philippines, an informal group of spa and wellness owners, managers, and suppliers from all over the Philippines, came together virtually in March 2020 with the goal of developing safety protocols for the industry to protect guests and employees, developed the industry’s stringent safety protocols.

Protocols for safety.

International spa and wellness safety standards from the UK, US, and Australia were examined and adapted to suit Philippine requirements.

The departments of health and tourism (DOT) filed and approved final spa and wellness safety standards, which are now being implemented in all DOT-accredited spas throughout the nation.

Those looking for a safe location to have a massage in a spa or wellness facility that has been inspected and found to follow rigorous safety procedures would appreciate the DOT Accreditation and Safety Seal.


Despite the industry’s current challenges, the future seems to be bright.

According to industry analysts, the wellness sector has grown even more important in the post-COVID era. The epidemic has wreaked havoc on people all across the globe, shaking them to their core. It has increased public awareness of the significance of personal health and well-being as the most effective means of preventing the pandemic.

“Wellness is a major component of the global and regional economy, emphasizing its potential significance in post-COVID-19 recovery efforts,” according to the Asian Development Outlook 2020 edition. Wellness-related sectors account for approximately 5% of global GDP ($4.5 trillion) in 2018, and about 11% of emerging Asia’s GDP in 2017—and are expanding at a rate of about 10% per year.”

Wellness is defined as “the pursuit of activities that contribute to holistic health, pleasure, and well-being,” according to the Asian Development Bank study. Experts in the international business also recommend the following:

Focus on the local market due to the decrease in global tourism: international visitors may spend more, but pleased local markets will return many times throughout the year.

Learn about your local market, including their age, gender, health, money, and personal status, and utilize this information to personalize your wellness services.

Develop and seek unconventional partnerships with other wellness providers, such as gyms, healthy food shops, dancing studios, and so on.

Practice inclusive development by expanding job possibilities in your community.

Practice sustainable tourism as part of your environmental wellness: The spa business is only one component of the vast wellness industry. While the wellness sector has a promising future, spa and wellness industry stakeholders must create strategies that effectively convey the value and significance of their services to the general population.

To safeguard the business and customers, spas and wellness facilities must be certified by the Department of Transportation before they may operate. This will guarantee professionalism and appropriate safety procedure execution.

Wellness practitioners must be seen as partners by the medical profession in assisting individuals in achieving genuine and long-term health.

The government and financial institutions must support this sector, which affects and enhances the lives of so many people: visitors, workers, and the community, as an industry that genuinely promotes inclusive development.

The author is the founder and president of Nurture Wellness Village, as well as a pioneer in the health and wellness sector in the nation.

Project Rebound is an advocacy effort aimed at assisting Filipinos in overcoming the crisis by providing them with timely and relevant information that they can utilize to make educated choices. Diwa Learning Systems Inc., PLDT, Inc., Smart Communications, Inc., and Toyota Motor Philippines Corporation are among the sponsors.

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