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Hazelnut scrubs and New Age music

CATHY CARROLLThe (Bend) Bulletin

BEND, Ore. A decade ago, honey, coconut, hazelnuts and yogurt were things you would expect to find in a Central Oregon grocery store while Muzak played in the background, not rubbed on you in spa treatments to the sounds of New Age music.If you had turned to the spas section of the 1995 Central Oregon yellow pages, it would have read, See hot tubs, health clubs and weight-loss services.Today, the section lists 18 spas that offer treatments ranging from massages to body wraps to oxygen facials.The growth is part of a national trend serving the burgeoning market of Americans seeking ways to relieve the stress of overwork, according to industry analysts.Spas are no longer bastions of pampering for the rich and famous.Just as hazelnut-mocha-low-fat espresso has made its way to nearly every corner, and golf has become more mainstream, everyday folks are heading to spas not only to make themselves look and feel good, but to improve their health.Tia Maccio of Cincinnati sought respite at Spa W in Bend, while on vacation visiting family.My husband and parents are watching the kids back home, she said as she received a pedicure. This is my first break from them in five or six years.Although the number of Central Oregon spas jumped dramatically since 2000, when the yellow pages listed three spas, industry experts say the market can support more growth.Its a fascinating industry, and a lot of investors see the benefits of this movement, as boomers want to enjoy themselves more and indulge, said Ben Ton, vice president of strategy at FundedPlans, a strategic business planning and investment banking advisory services company in San Diego.The younger Generation X market also is seeking self-preservation and the nurturing, healing environment of spas, and now has the money to get it.Its not a fad. We believe its a long-term lifestyle trend because theres a serious health component to relieving toxins and stress, Ton said. In the day of extreme makeovers, its a noninvasive form.Spa industry revenues in the United States hit $11.2 billion in 2003, up from $5 billion in 1999, according to the International Spa Association, which has 2,300 members worldwide. The number of U.S. spas reached 12,100 last year, up from 5,639 in 2000.The number includes all types of spas including day spas as well as spas at resorts, hotels and on cruise ships.Yet the market is not saturated, nationally or in Central Oregon, according to spa industry officials.Nicole Weathers, who opened Spa W in Bend in 1998 with her mother, Sandy Weston, said she cannot satisfy the demand for spa services. She routinely refers customers to other Central Oregon spas.When Sunriver Resort opened its 8,000-square-foot Sage Springs Spa in June 2002, it siphoned off some of Spa Ws tourist clientele, but the Bend spa quickly drew as many local customers, Weathers said.She said she has no plans to expand her spa and does not fear more competition.Theres a place for everybody because each spa has its own personality, said Weathers, whose spa treatments are styled on those from Bali, Java and Thailand. People love their therapists. We truly pamper them.FundedPlans also advises entrepreneurs that spas must go well beyond offering traditional massage.They have got to have hooks angles be sexy, said Ton.Consumers are looking for more and will spend it on treatments, a spa product line and cosmetics.The fastest growing spa niche in the past two years has been medical spas, which typically offer medical care as well as spa therapies and treatments, according to the International Spa Association. About half of them offer classes in nutrition and other wellness topics.About three years ago, Sunriver Resort bought the Sunriver Racquet Club for $1.5 million and spent $5 million creating the Sage Springs Club and Spa.The spa, which is open to the public, has met or exceeded the resorts financial objectives since it opened, according to Nancy Devine, vice president of sales and marketing for the resort.Weve noticed increased occupancy on weekends with groups of women traveling together to enjoy the spa, she said.About 80 percent of the spa patrons are resort guests. The remainder is a loyal Central Oregon clientele who return monthly, she said.The companys goal is to operate Sage Springs Club and Spa as a separate business that complements the resorts offerings. It has 32 year-round employees and 48 in the summer.Many resorts and hotels including the Four Seasons, Marriott, Hyatt, Loews and Fairmont chains are branding their own spas, according to the spa association.Sage Springs Spa echoes the resorts surroundings. The most popular body treatment is the Oregon hazelnut scrub. Oregon hazelnut production ranked first in the nation in 2003.The 50-minute, $94 treatment promises to polish skin to a radiant glow. A 90-minute body treatment with marine clay and seaweed promises to rejuvenate and tone for $164. The spa is seeking to further capitalize on its unique high desert environment, developing treatments using indigenous ingredients, Devine said.Alana Audette, president and chief executive officer of the Central Oregon Visitors Association, said spas are an increasingly popular factor in where visitors choose to take a vacation. Tourists frequently ask about spas at resorts.I think visiting a day spa is like any other activity such as golf, skiing, biking and shopping, she said. People plan a day around it.Day spas, unlike spas in hotels resorts, account for about 75 percent of the industry and typically rely on local clients, according to the International Spa Association.Jackie Yow, a former hairdresser, opened Bronze Beach Spa & Tan in La Pine 18 months ago.She opened a spa rather than a hair salon so clients could not only have one-stop convenience for an array of treatments, she said, but also have an escape from children.The Jimmy Buffet-style retreat, which features tropical murals and a grass hut in the reception area, offers a respite in winter. Its located between the Taco Bell and Bi-Mart in LaPine.Yow recently hosted an after hours spa treatment party with complementary wine and cheese for 20 schoolteachers, she said.There is nothing like this in La Pine, Yow said. Its something to do in this town.On the Net:Spas in Central Oregon: http://www.visitcentraloregon.com/Shoppingpages/spas.htm


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