There are not as many new spas opening as there were a few years ago although certain UK destinations have become more popular due to the number of quality spas (eg County Durham, The Cotswolds and Cornwall). These days, I maintain that most spa afficionados are familiar with the more established spas and tend to engage and book their favourite spas directly; they have come to realise that some of the cheaper spa deals offered by the spa booking websites at spas which are perhaps at the lower end of the quality scale, just do not deliver in terms of a satisfactory spa experience.
The national newspapers talk about their Top 10 and Top 20 spa hotels and it is generally the same names which crop up (Pennyhill Park, Chewton Glen, Lime Wood, Coworth Park, Lucknam Park, Rockliffe Hall and more recently Dormy House). I am always pleased to see that The Vineyard still gets a look-in too (my ‘2nd home’ for 10 years).
The on line spa booking landscape has also seen some changes recently. In 2015, the original on line spa break operator Spa Break.co.uk (known as Spa Breaks Direct or SB1 by some of us who have been around for a long time) was taken over by market leaders Spa Breaks.com (SB2). Spa Breaks.com claim that customers can book ‘instantly’ on line spa days at some 400 + day spas and over 330 spa break destinations in the UK.
In December 2015, sadly for me, BookaSpa.com (which I helped launch in 2010 and which turned over £1 million in its first year of trading) closed down after 5 years. Owners Golf Breaks.com decided to concentrate only on their core business – golf breaks – and having sold off Tee Off Times earlier in the year decided to invest their cash in their new golf sales offices in the US and Scandanavia.
Wahanda have re-branded as Treatwell.co.uk and continue to focus more on the salons (some 11,000) although they do feature 400 + day spas and 200 + spa break destinations and they do offer a book on line function.
Travelzoo’s local spa deals still continue to fill many spas midweek and during off peak times however, if you go to their website, you will not see the word ‘spa’ mentioned. Lots of my friends book with them. Many a day, I have shared the steam room in my local spa with ladies who have booked one of Travelzoo’s deals and contrary to what some hotel General Managers think, in my experience they are not a bad bunch of people!
The Good Spa Guide has come on in the last few years and they now feature 7 luxury hotel spas with their ‘5 Bubble’ accolade (Pennyhill Park, The Vineyard, Galgorm, Rockliffe Hall, Dormy House, Seaham Hall and Chewton Glen) and a further 44 spas with ‘5 Bubbles’.Customers can ‘enquire’ about any of their 150 odd deals featured on their website. The Good Spa Guide.
And lastly, the US based Spafinder Wellness 365 who again have come on in the last few years regaining their market share in the UK through sales of spa gift vouchers and who under new leadership, have launched several new initiatives on the spa and wellness scene including ‘Wellness for Cancer’. Last year, they voted the spa at The Corinthia Hotel in London as their Wellness Travel Awards ‘Best in UK’ category and also, one of my favourites – The Mondrian in London too.
So which spas will you be visiting in 2016? And how will you be booking your spa?
Let me know if you need any tips or advice.
For spas themselves needing advice on partnering with any of these spa booking websites, please contact me via my website spapartners.co.uk