The first Baby Boomers are already into their retirement years and many are suffering from the diseases that affect the aged – heart/stroke problems, cancer, diabetes. This trend will accelerate over the next 10 years.
Catering to the gray market is one of the items the Thai Spa Association will be considering at its meeting in October and Andrew has high hopes that “a real start” will be made at this session.
Stairs, at many of the resort spas, are part of the challenge, especially for seniors with hip or heart problems. “Steps are very much an Asian thing,” he observed. “Asians like steps, the more, the better.”
Asia doesn’t have a building code, as do many countries in the West, which provide for disability access, although in Thailand, he added, we’re beginning to see more spas on a single level.
“But it’s very much in its infancy and has a long way to go before we can say that spas are friendly for the aged.”
The industry has already begun to realize this. In Thailand, you can see it in the attitude of senior industry people and even among the younger people coming into the industry who have a different mindset.
“It’s reasonable to assume that over the next few years, we’ll see significant changes in the way these things are approached – with people looking at it with a long-term perspective and in terms of its business potential. It’s a special market with needs that have to be addressed.
“That includes treatments. They will have to evolve to deal with these demands – with a greater emphasis on the medical side than ever before.”
The global industry has been talking about the growth in medical spas for some time. This growth hasn’t materialized in Asia yet but that, he adds, is about to change – if the industry hopes to cater to an aging population.
In Thailand, the industry has been heavily focused on pampering, based on what clients want at most Thai spas.
“But wellness is coming. Some hotel spas are starting to move it forward in a big way. But for the moment, it’s still seen as a marketing term more than a level of reality,” he said.
In Thailand, it’s also caught the eye of property developers, who are talking about developing residential complexes with a destination type spa and a medical facility within them.