Spas Now Part of American Life

ByABC News
October 2, 2000, 1:28 PM

N E W   Y O R K, Oct. 4 -- Dancing the Watusi made us cool at the clubs in the 60s.

Now, its Watsuing, a new massage method, to keep us warm these days, along with other treatment indulgences at the hot spots of the new millennium: spas.

During a Watsu massage, therapist and client immerse themselves in warm water. Through a series of rhythmic movements, deep massage and stretching, the client reaches a state of relaxation. Practitioners say Watsu stimulates healing because of the primal nature of being cradled in warm water.

As the spa industry continues its explosive growth in the United States, Watsu and hundreds of other pamperings for the face, body and mind from Moor mud baths to Japanese enzyme tea immersions may become as commonplace in five years as yoga is today.(see story below for definitions.)

Visits, Revenue and Locations Rising

The International Spa Association reports the amount of spa visits, locations and revenues have been escalating in the past few years.

Besides aging baby boomers taking the plunge into the mineral baths, the under 18-year-old age group, or Generation Y, also are jumping in. The fastest-growing trend for the industry: day spas, where consumers take a day of indulgence at the local mall or beauty salon.

Massage is no longer a luxury to baby boomers, explains Gerald Katzoff, former president of the spa association and president of the Greenhouse Group, which runs 12 U.S. spas and is opening a new day spa later this year on 57th Street in Manhattan. There is enough of a demand in the market for us all, he says. The future New York spa will compete with several others on the same street.

According to a Pricewaterhouse Coopers survey, the number of spas in the United States increased by 21 percent a year in the past five years, with the total number of spas numbering 5,689. Between 1997 and 1999, revenues surged 152 percent from $2.1 billion to $5.3 billion, with spa visits increasing from 56 million to 95 million per year.