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The journey to a more personalised wellness approach

National Cancer Institute - clasped hands

We are all increasingly aware of our wellbeing and the things we can do to take care of it. However, one of the big things that has been changing in health and wellbeing in recent years is the recognition that one size doesn’t necessarily fit all. We need the wiggle room for a personalised wellness approach.

As our goal has always been to offer spa experiences for everybody and ‘every body’ - tailoring days, breaks and treatments to personal wants and needs. That means a more tailored, more bespoke, more adaptable spa experience.

Personalised wellness affects us all

Wellness is often presented to us as a destination. It is held out as a Holy Grail, a gold standard, something to work towards, and somewhere to stay once you get there. The reality is that wellness is something we all live with every day, in our own way and at our own stage. It is fluid, evolving and above all else, it’s personal.

For some of us our own personal wellness takes the form of chronic conditions. For most of us there will be periods when our stage of personal wellness is altered more obviously than others whether it’s pregnancy, old age or illness. For others there will be times when we are presented with acute and perhaps distressing changes to our personal wellness.

How can a spa break be more personalised?

When it comes to spa experiences, how can we offer something that is simultaneously universally accessible, and personal? For us it has meant bringing together lots of people to create something that’s flexible and that also empowers spa goers with information they need to choose the right spa experience for them, and know when they need to voice any specific personal wellness needs. That’s either to ensure you have a safe spa experience or so that therapists can recommend treatments to make the most of your spa break.

At its core, a spa break is about having time and space to enjoy your wellness, and whatever stage it’s at it’s always about you as an individual. That’s why your therapist will ask you questions at the start of your treatment, to tailor it to what you need at that time. It might mean using essential oils that are more energising than relaxing, or adjusting a massage technique to personal preference.

For some stages of wellness, the level of personalisation to treatments and experiences requires greater precision than others for health, safety and comfort. It does not raise one stage of wellness over any other.

For example, if you are going through the menopause, you may wish to speak to a naturopath or nutritionist who can help support you and your body holistically. If you’re pregnant, there may be certain treatments or facilities that are best adapted or avoided. Or if you are living with cancer, recovering from it or going through cancer treatment, it may impact the treatments and experiences you have. It’s also extremely helpful if you’re booking a spa break for a loved one, so you know they’re in safe hands and looked after.

Our journey to a personalised approach to wellness

Our own journey to personalised wellness has been an integral part of who we are at In everything we do we aim to offer a spa experience for ‘every body’ and everybody, from price to package choice and geographical location. However, on the question of health related specifics, it really began one day in 2012 when we got a phone call from a customer in tears. Her daughter had bought her a spa day, but when she arrived at her destination and filled in her consultation form, she ticked ‘yes’ in the little box asking if she had cancer. The therapist had unceremoniously sent her away, telling her they couldn’t treat her.

Horrified by the situation and our unwitting role within it, we decided enough was enough, and so we worked with a number of our most trusted spa destinations to set up Recovery Retreats - specialised packages for spa days and breaks for anyone with or recovering from cancer.

Then, now, and the future - creating Safe Hands

The result of our actions, and those of others, is that the industry has changed and continues to do so. Education for spa therapists so they can feel confident adapting treatments for anyone with cancer and other conditions has improved exponentially. We are moving towards a space where specialised treatments and packages are not necessary for people with cancer because therapists are more able to adapt most treatments or make recommendations, as they would in other circumstances.

In particular, this has led us to develop Safe Hands, a collection of spa destinations and spa experiences where therapists have the training to adapt treatments to different conditions and starting with Safe Hands for Cancer. Through it, spa guests can find destinations where therapists have had the right level of training to adapt treatments for anyone with, or recovering from, cancer. 

It has been created with the support of the Standard Authority for Touch in Cancer Care (SATCC) - which we will tell you more about in the coming weeks - and which has been driven by Susan Harmsworth MBE (Founder of ESPA).

It is the next stage in a long journey of working towards a more personalised approach to wellness, taking into consideration all of its different stages and challenges to deliver the true, nurturing meaning of spa whenever you need it.


*It’s important that individuals check with their doctors before visiting a spa to make sure that any specific conditions or treatments will not preclude them visiting a spa, using facilities and having spa treatments to ensure your safety and wellbeing.

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