The young and the rested
Teens & Tweens Hit the Spas
By Elisa Bosley
The International SPA Association’s 2003 Spa-goer Study, the first in the organization’s history to include teen stats, reflects the burgeoning number of boomer families with kids—the demographic destined to be the next generation of spa-goers. According to ISPA’s survey, forty percent of adult spa guests with children ages thirteen to fifteen have taken their offspring to a spa. The number of teenage clients increases as youngsters get older: Fully half of eighteen- and nineteen-year-olds with spa-going parents have enjoyed spa treatments, with or without mom or dad. In addition, according to Lauren Ash Donoho of the Hotel Del Coronado, teens influenced $300 billion in family purchases in 2002, including vacation destinations and off-time activities. That’s a lot of decision-making power for a group not yet old enough to vote.
Given these compelling statistics, it’s no surprise that spas, salons, and resorts are jumping on the teen bandwagon, offering generation-specific treatments and kicking up the cool factor with teen-only hangouts.
On the pulse
The staff at Hotel Del Coronado in Southern California took a direct approach to find out what tweens and teens wanted. “We went down to the pool and asked people age eleven to seventeen what their expectations were for a resort,” says Donoho, the Del’s public relations director. “We found out three things: They wanted spa treatments, they wanted their own food and retail venues, and more than anything they wanted a place to go that was just theirs.”
Armed with this first-hand feedback, the Del launched its new teen programs and venues in June 2002. Teenage guests now enjoy a kids-only lounge, complete with food, video games, music, pool, foosball, and computers; fun recreation options, including kayaking, surfing, tennis, biking, weight training, and yoga; and hip spa packages with indulgences including post-beach pedicures, manicures, and massages. After just one season, the response was tremendous. “I had my first massage on this trip, that was just for teens. It was really cool,” says Lindsey, 16. “Now I want to come back every summer.”
Melanie Stefanidis, founding spa director at Hawks Cay in the Florida Keys, heard the same message. “We’re a big family resort,” she explains. “We realized that we were seeing a huge teen population that was too old for the pirate ship but too young to do anything else.” In December 2002, the property opened a teen spa and club, with activities and treatments geared to children ages eight to fifteen. “It’s especially great hearing the comments from the kids; they’re really excited,” says Stefanidis.
One of teens’ most popular spa options deals with a classic young-adult issue: acne. Many spas see skincare as the perfect way to instill lifelong hygiene habits among teenagers who may not know where to start. “How many [teen or pre-teen] kids are talking about taking care of their skin?” asks Ella Stimpson, spa director at the Broadmoor resort in Colorado Springs. For most teens, she says, getting skincare knowledge from professionals in a serene and private spa setting may be more appealing—and lasting—than listening to a lecture from mom.
“It’s all about education,” agrees Susan Tierney, owner of the new Seventeen.studio.spa.salon in Plano, Texas, built for an all-teen clientele. “At eleven and twelve, kids’ bodies are changing, and often their moms bring them in to get on a skincare system. All of our aestheticians are trained in teen facials, so we teach [kids] how to clean their skin and what products to use.” It’s a task well undertaken: According to ISPA executive director Lynne Walker McNees, facials, particularly deep-cleansing facials for acne, are currently the number-one spa choice for both boys and girls.
“A lot of parents don’t want their children to take Acutane or some other abrasive treatment,” notes Tiffani Kim, president of Tiffani Kim Institute, a day spa in Chicago that recently launched an extensive spa menu exclusively for teens. “We try to correct them with the clinical facials, which really help. When we were young, we didn’t have any help like this, but in this day and age parents are very smart, and they want their children to learn the right habits.”
Critics charge that this much attention to a child’s face and body may send the wrong message, communicating that there’s something “wrong.” Certainly, for many teens, excessive mirror-gazing and the media’s relentlessly portrayed ideals of beauty (super thin, straight teeth, perfect skin) can lead to an unhealthy body image and unnecessary angst.
But, say spa proponents, sensitively rendered treatments actually may relieve some of the anxiety kids feel at this awkward age. “The aestheticians really take the time to educate [the kids] on cleansing their skin, not popping pimples, all of the basics of skincare,” says Maggy Dunphy, spa director of Aria Spa & Club in Vail, Colorado. “I think it empowers them to take care of themselves. This is an age where no matter what, there are self esteem issues happening, so at least on the skin side, [learning skincare] helps them feel better.”
Beyond skincare, teens benefit from myriad wellness options, including healthier food and stress-reduction techniques, offered by spas and resorts that cater to active, health-conscious consumers. Many spas enlist licensed dietitians to help clients make permanent, healthy changes to their diets. “When you look at obesity and anorexia and the pressures and problems that creates [for teens],” says McNees, “you realize what a great opportunity spas have to teach them about proper nutrition and taking care of themselves.” The Broadmoor’s Stimpson agrees. “We just hired a nutritionist, and she met with a mother-daughter team,” she says. “They talked about eating habits and what you do when you’re stressed, those choices you make.”
How to handle stress, whether it’s worries about grades, getting into college, sports performance, or “all of the crazy pressures that come with being a teenager,” says McNees, is key in helping teens navigate turbulent times. “If we can teach them a way to relax, to take that time out, it’ll become a habit,” she adds.
In fact, a relaxing massage now vies with manicures and pedicures in teen popularity. Spas take various approaches to youth massage, but all agree that it’s important for preteens and teens to understand proper body touch and to guard against improper methods or even awkwardness. At Hawks Cay, for example, kids receive massages in the comfort of their bathing suits, and most locations have age minimums (often twelve years old). Most commonly, therapists perform youth massages with a parent present. If your child wants a massage, the most enjoyable approach is a dual massage, with two therapists performing simultaneous treatments on parent and child.
Indeed, parent-teen bonding may be the best part of taking your youngster to the spa. “We see a lot of our members bringing their teenager to do a yoga class or snowshoe hike together, and then they go to the spa after,” says Dunphy. “I just think that’s awesome, to do something with your teenager, to spend that time together and stay connected.”
How cool is this? Young people are flocking to spas, picking up techniques for troubled skin, indulging in massages for growing pains and stress, and hanging out in kids-only clubs offering healthy snacks and email access. It’s the newest, hippest trend: teens and tweens getting psyched about spas in their own unique style.
My first spa visit
The Broadmoor Spa in Colorado Springs is an amazing place. It is beautiful and relaxing and peaceful everywhere you go. There are various relaxing rooms, such as a cool room that smelled of lavender and a heated room with warm, cozy chairs and a burning fire. There’s also a deck where you can sit and see parts of the Rocky Mountains. I had a very nice facial, manicure, and pedicure. Petra, the lady doing my pedicure, sat me in a chair that massaged my back while I was having my feet done. The pedicurists were very gentle and it was always comfortable. They also had a variety of colors, which were fun to pick! The manicurists massage your arms and work on your cuticles, as well as applying two coats of polish. And the facial felt wonderful.
–Bethany Bosley, age 12
Great destinations for teens
Aria Spa & Club at Vail Cascade Resort, Vail, Colorado
Teens love: Mother/Daughter Massage, $190/$210; Teen Facial, $70/$105; “Symphony 4,” $285 (guided hike/snow shoe, soak, sports massage, foot therapy, and smoothie)
The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs, Colorado
(800) 634.7711 www.broadmoor.com
Teens love: The Underage Facial, 50 minutes, $115; Manicure, $40; Pedicure, $60
Hawks Cay Resort, Duck Key, Florida
(888) 443-6393 www.hawkscay.com
Teens love: Jazzy Island Manicure or Pedicure, $25; Friends Massage or Facial (teen and a friend together), $35/person; Teen Escape Massage 25 minutes, $35
Seventeen studio.spa.salon, Plano, Texas
(469) 361-0017 www.seventeenspa.com
Teens love: Acne Attack Skin Therapy, $60; “Rub My Back!” Massage, $45; Foot Detail for the Guys, $18
Hotel del Coronado, Coronado, California
(800) HOTEL DEL www.hoteldel.com
Teens love: Back from the Beach Package, $120 (hand-foot exfoliation and hand-foot massage); Lucky Chick Package, $195 (massage, manicure, pedicure, and facial); Point Break Package, $120 (mud wrap, scalp massage, and neck-shoulder-arm massage)
Tiffani Kim Institute, Chicago, Illinois
(312) 943-8777 www.tiffanikiminstitute.com
Teens love: Princess Facial, $85; Young Man’s Facial, $85; Growing Pains Relief Massage, $85/$110; Nutritional Counseling with Licensed Nutritionist, $120