The Wellness Trend in Spas in Dallas

Upon my arrival to Dallas, Texas early last year I heard that spas are more into beauty and med spa services and not so much wellness. All last Fall I kept visiting spas and looking at their menus and came to the conclusion that Dallas is slowly moving in the wellness direction. An article the Business section of the Dallas Morning News on February 2nd 2010, Blue Cross Blue Shield, the states largest health insurer, said “it’s implementing a program in five North Texas counties to better emphasize wellness and manage diseases.”

I am keenly aware of Spa Finder Magazine’s Susie Ellis 2010 Trends Report speaking of wellness as one of the key elements in the spa industry of today. With this in mind I went back to review my spa visits.

The first spa that came to mind that includes wellness in it’s title is the Cooper Spa “health and wellness corporation”. It has two locations and at the main campus on Preston Road it’s a good sight to see that all of the campus is devoted to one thing: your health and wellness. In the membership orientation a spa session is included along side a functional movement assessment, fitness consultation and personal training session in addition to nutrition education. Interesting as they are now celebrating their 40th anniversary this year and 42 year of Dr. Kenneth Cooper’s “Aerobics” book that my mother was so keen about in the 1970’s (she remembers taking classes with him at the University of Oklahoma).

At the V Spa on the grounds of the Hilton Anatole Hotel in their Sculpture Park, the fitness center is in the same specialized area as “the Verandah Club” but it is not seamlessly presented as a wellness center. They do offer the specialized massages as in stone, reiki, shiatsu and vino (interesting – a “toast to the finer things in life”) amongst other offerings.

The Spa at the Crescent Hotel is just as luxurious and “quietly opulent 22,000-square-foot facility” that also incorporates wellness with what they term “Sense of Well Being” with their healing bodywork offerings. They have interesting names such as Hotter ‘n Texas Summer Rock Massage, Equator and Polar Harmony Stone Therapy and the Time Zone Recovery Massage. Their menu is much more extensive and includes “The Royal Bath”, scrubs and interesting “Spa Rituals of the World”. I enjoyed reading about these and for their excellent grasp of treatments from around the world. You know you have arrived at the spa because as soon as the elevator doors open you smell the wonderful aromatherapy and the soothing qualities of the water fountain.

At the Four Seasons Dallas I was most impressed with the layout and true air of a classy spa that has an extensive array of treatments for a discerning national and international clientele. Especially for their yearly golf tournament. The layout is very well thought out and a convenient men’s or ladies lounge area an excellent place for ultimate relaxation and quiet time to yourself after a wonderful treatment. The fitness facilities alongside the pool are all in the same vicinity so that you may enjoy a wellness package.

In terms of med and day spas, Dermascope Magazine’s My Spa Network (headquarter offices in Garland, TX) lists 151 within a 10 miles radius of uptown Dallas. I was surprised by these findings but then realized that many are including the word “spa“ in their business name. This gave me the inkling that Dallasites definitely want to look and feel great after visiting their favorite spa. Now how can we further embrace wellness (as defined in the 1961 book “High Level Wellness by Halbert L. Dunn, MD) in our Dallas spas?

As I was writing this article this week I read another news story out of Hotels Magazine online stating that the new Omni Hotel’s Mokara Spa as of April 1st, 2010 “will have a focus on wellness and will be positioned to compete with other luxury brands like Shangri-La and Mandarin Oriental.” Interesting as the Omni Hotel in Las Colinas already has their Mokara Spa up and running but will refocus on wellness. The new Dallas Convention Center Omni Hotel opening in 2012 will have an “enhanced spa experience with an embedded Mokara Salon and Spa brand”.

Along with the opening of two Equinox clubs and eight LifeTime Fitness clubs in the Dallas/Fort Worth area spas are part of the overall “menu” of wellness, fitness and health. LifeTime Fitness trainer and motivation speaker Patrick Walker suggests the VO2 test (Heart Rate and Oxygen consumption) along with the Resting Metabolic test for optimum health before starting a wellness routine.

One thing I have noticed is our definition of “spa”. This past Thursday February 4th I had the pleasure of touring Baylor Tom Landry Fitness Center and was impressed with the extensive and comprehensive personal health and wellness program. They even have two underwater treadmills in the pool. I took issue with calling their two unisex whirlpool areas called “spas” (on a huge sign no less!). I was surprised to hear that they did have a spa but closed it down for some reason. Recently I was having an online conversation with a Facebook friend (vacationing in Argentina with his wife) who used the definition of “spa” in a different way. He said that he frequently travels for business and heads to the “fitness centers” of the hotels where he stays and considers the “spa” a place for women getting facials, mani and pedi. I replied with a better definition of spa and it’s incorporation of wellness, fitness and therapeutic benefits of taking the waters (balneotherapy) and massage. The word “spa” has been around since the naming of the city in Belgium in the 14th Century where it is a “famed site of healing hot springs” (and even dates further back to Roman times).

1) The Cooper Clinic was founded in 1970 by preventive medicine pioneer Kenneth H. Cooper, M.D., “the father of aerobics.”   The 30-acre campus in Dallas consists of the Cooper Clinic, where you can get a comprehensive physical examination (and Botox), a Cooper Fitness Center with  80 exercise classes a week, and Cooper Spa.  There’s a 62-room guest lodge for people in one or two-week program that focus on weight loss, healthy eating, regular physical activity, stress management and preventing illness.  There’s a second location in McKinney, Texas, 30 miles north of Dallas.