Savvy family friendly resorts and cruise lines have spotted one of today's fastest growing trends: the demand for spa services by teens and their younger siblings. In the past, "family friendly spas" used to mean resorts that offered children's programs to entertain the kids while Mom and Dad went to the spa. Today, that is no longer the case. Teens and younger children want to be pampered with spa treatments as well.
Our family was a very early participant in this trend. About four years ago, my husband and I were searching for an appropriate destination to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. While there were many wonderful resorts from which to choose, our decision had one slightly complicating factor -- we wanted to bring along our daughters, then ages 17 and 13, to celebrate with us. We were seeking a retreat loaded with activities where the entire family could feel pampered and enjoy themselves together for several days.
Our final choice was the The Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Virginia. Why? The resort's Spa Suite, which had just started providing spa packages for kids and teens. Many resorts offered romantic settings with superb dining and recreational activities, but The Homestead differentiated itself by welcoming families into all venues of the resort. We wanted an inclusive resort, and our choice turned out to be a wise decision. We had a fantastically memorable 25th anniversary celebration, and every member of the family felt special.
Today, teen business at spas is booming. Last year, Spa Finder announced that one of their Top Ten Spa Trends was "spa services for the entire family." Teens have been pouring into spas across the country during the last two years, attracted by the allure of beauty treatments, stress relief, and glamorous spa settings. As parents understand, where teens go -- younger children will follow. Spa Finder predicts that "Spas will keep pace by offering more family oriented activities, spas for kids, and/or kids-only spa programs."
Top family friendly resorts have moved quickly to capitalize on this new trend. Hyatt Resorts was the first major hotel chain to open a youth spa. The Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa opened its youth spa, called The SPAhhhT (pronounced "spot"), on Memorial Day Weekend 2003. It was completely booked on the first weekend. Since then, Hyatt has expanded the kids and teens spa concept to a number of their resorts around the country.
Pinehurst Resort announced the opening of their KidSpa and TeenSpa, providing special treatments for kids ages 6-16. What makes these spa treatments different from those provided for adult guests? "Education, focus on growing muscles, and great care towards addressing self image," says Kim Parker, director of The Spa at Pinehurst. "You can't take teen stress out of the picture, which we know exists, with peer pressure reaching an all time high," says Parker. "We help educate them on healthy skin practices, and begin a wellness program that will last their entire lifetime."
The Greenbrier, a popular family resort in West Virginia, also joined the family spa trend by introducing a complete menu of spa treatments designed to pamper their younger guests. In addition to a wide variety of family programs and activities, young spa enthusiasts will find treatments designed specifically for their needs. The Greenbrier offers a package that includes a mini manicure and a mini pedicure, designed for children ages 6 to 10. Spa services and treatments are also available for teens including "Hands Down," "Footloose" and a Clarifying Facial with a Tips for Teens facial sheet to take along for at home skincare.
City hotels, such as The Ritz-Carlton Chicago are also capitalizing on the young client trend by offering mother-daughter manicures, teen massages, and other services. Cathy O'Connor, Director of Sales & Marketing at the Hilton Suites Toronto/Markham Conference Center & Spa, says that the hotel is seeing an increasing number of kids and teens patronizing their Holtz Spa. Their is no set minimum age for the spa, although most younger clients seem to be girls ages ten and older. While manicures and pedicures are the services most often selected, teens are able to select treatments from the hotel's regular spa menu as well.
Some smaller resort spas are jumping into the picture with offerings for their youngest guests. Wintergreen Resort has a spa package specifically designed for 6-12 year-olds called "The Princess Package" As a part of this petite manicure and pedicure combination, the young guests get to sit in the big throne for their pedicure. According to Wintergreen's Director of Communications, this treatment is particularly popular in the warm weather months when little toes are showing in sandals, and the girls "always seem to want the newest colors as soon as they become available."
Resorts and cruise lines have an additional reason for working hard to please younger guests -- their opinions can play a key role in the vacation decision process. According to a recent "Portrait of Family Travel" market research study, 68 percent of surveyed parents, all interviewed by telephone, viewed their children as ''very influential'' when selecting the destination for a family trip. A study conducted by Yankelovich found that over half of the teenagers surveyed "helped their parents choose a family vacation spot" and "a quarter of teens even helped select a hotel." This comes as no surprise to someone who's been actively reporting on family travel for almost a decade. Kids and teens are avid researchers who make their opinions known, and parents want the entire family to be happy on a vacation.
The family spa trend is here to stay, and a number of resort and cruise line spas are welcoming kids and teens with open arms. On the right-hand sidebar, you'll find over 25 resorts and cruise lines that offer a variety of spa services to please their younger guests. These are the Family Travel Network's top picks for the resort and cruise line spas that pamper kids and teens.
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