Spa design: Creating new dimensions of well-being

Designers and industry experts share their thoughts on new trends and developments in the spa design sector.

The Global Wellness Institute has identified the Middle East and both Sub-Saharan and North Africa as the fastest-growing spa markets in the world. This year, the spa market in the MENA region is valued at $3bn, according to a new report by Euromonitor International, which also reveals that the UAE shares over 14% of this market with a value of $435m.

“UAE hotels report 60% of total spa visitors are people who are not otherwise staying on the property. Hotels are now leasing spaces for more spa related services as the demand increases,” comments Rabia Yasmeen, research analyst at Euromonitor International.

The leisure market report, prepared ahead of The Leisure Show 2016, also forecasts that the MENA spa market will grow by 21.6% by 2019.

Yasmeen says: “The trend towards health and wellness and medical tourism in this region is expanding. Health focused tourists usually spend 130% of the expenditure of the regular traveller as they seek such experiences as part of leisure activities. There is now greater demand for experiences ranged over two to seven nights, health and wellness programmes, meditation, cosmetic treatments, and thematic environments similar to the Asian market.”

Glass and aluminium sanitary module Monolith Plus by Geberit.

Commenting on the latest trends in spa design, Alexandra Wormser, marketing specialist at Hansgrohe Middle East, notices that designers are putting a lot more emphasis on blurring the line between indoors and outside.

She comments: “Increasingly, natural and native materials and furnishings built by local craftsmen are being used. Instead of all polished stone, for example, fragrant and aromatic woods and tubs made out of a treated wood are being seen.”

Kerrie Black, marketing manager at BagnoDesign, agrees that spa materials are going back to nature, with marble and timber being particularly prominent.

“Corresponding with this trend, there is also a shift away from chrome brassware towards finishes such as brushed nickel, copper and gold, with consumers now having more choice available to them, depending on the style of basin they are opting for,” says Black, adding that minimalism is a key trend.

The user can choose head-to-feet shower coverage with the Kohler DTV+.

Louise Pitt, marketing manager at Geberit, says that the hotel spa should be designed with the end user’s complete experience taken into consideration, along with utilisation and occupancy revenues, and the type of hotel the spa is located in.

“Acoustics play such an important role for the ambience of the spa and should be high on the list of priorities,” says Pitt, adding that there is a demand for the high-performance products and designs that have an eye on budget, but still offer luxurious and indulgent spaces. “Also, metallic flush actuation plates have seen a huge surge in popularity and add a touch of glamour to the modern spa. They reflect light and exude style, and we offer the possibility of customising the actuator plate to an individual spa theme.”


Wormser points out that a continuing rise in wellness-related technology is making it much easier for designers to obtain sustainable objectives.

“This ranges from new systems designed to improve the handling of water, including water consumption and filtration, a varied array of apps as well as a wearable technology offering immediate diagnostics, body mass measurements and personal training,” she says, adding that two years ago Hansgrohe was awarded the Trustmark for Environmental Performance by the Abu Dhabi Quality and Conformity Council for 11 of its products.

Hansgrohe Talis Select Rainmaker.

Black agrees that sustainability is an important consideration for the contract sector, so consequently it becomes an issue for manufacturers and suppliers too.

“In particular, water efficiency and the need for water efficient products is becoming a primary concern for the hotel and spa sector,” says Black. “This is in part due to the rising cost of water as a commodity and hence the requirement for hotels to reduce the amount of water they use and become more sustainable.”

Last year, Kohler introduced its DTV+ System, which integrates water, sound, steam and lighting elements to create better showering experiences.

“In addition to expanded flexibility, the new DTV+ system also features pre-programmed spa experiences,” says Les Petch, senior product manager at Kohler.

Another feature of DTV+ is the ability to deliver two different water temperatures at the same time.

BagnoDesign Metreaux Range.

“This also facilitates the introduction of new spa experiences. Scripted with actual hydrotherapy techniques in mind, each experience targets specific parts of the body with different temperatures. The varying temperatures are carefully chosen to provide the most luxurious showering experience possible,” adds Petch.


Black notices that designers are being met with the challenge of successfully combining practical elements with aesthetic values and usability and they don’t always get that right.

“Design should always follow function, regardless of the temptation to do otherwise. It is all very well the spa looking the part but it needs to be comfortable and practical for guests, too,” she says.

Wormser explains that some of the most common mistakes in spa design include spatial planning, but also over-design.

Geberit solutions

Geberit products provide water solutions, which correspond to sustainable building standards without sacrificing design quality.

“One of the many benefits of having Geberit installed in your hotel spa is the availability of spare parts for all products, and the 25-years spare-part availability for all working parts within Geberit concealed cisterns and flush plates,” says Pitt.

M-line mixers by BagnoDesign.

“People come to a spa to relax and de-stress, so too much clutter and too many over-the-top design features can detract from that feeling of peace,” she says. “Another oversight often concerns bathroom fittings. Hotels are investing in full equipment for a massage but sometimes not on luxury products for the shower such as mixers with user-friendly and high-quality technology.”

Commenting on the key performance indicators that hotels should set to define the success of the spa, Black says that customer satisfaction is the clearest indication of a design’s success.

“If the guests are happy, they may not always tell you, but they will certainly let you know if they feel disappointed in their experience. It is important to take any feedback on board and to make the necessary changes to maximise guest satisfaction. Guest expectations are higher than ever, as domestically the bathroom has become much more spa-like,” says Black, adding guests are looking for a level of comfort and luxury that they can’t experience at home.

Copyright Kuhnle und Knödler for Axor / Hansgrohe SE;spa design

Axor One by Hansgrohe

Hansgrohe recently launched several new products including Axor One, Talis Select Mixer and Croma Select. Created by London designers Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby, Axor One is a thermostat module for the shower which, due to its simplicity, flatness and size, creates a new feeling of spaciousness.