A Holistic Spa

Practices and Products

Editor’s Note: Expert columnist Morag Currin continues her series on how spas can contribute to the well-being of people with cancer, diabetes and other illnesses by providing safe, positive experiences.

Holistic means “whole” or “complete,” and a growing number of spas are becoming holistic in approach, meaning they choose to focus on mind, body, and spirit experiences and an environment that will appeal to clients who are consciously choosing to live a quality life.

A holistic spa looking for client retention needs to be very clear in its concept and how this will benefit clients, including those with health challenges who are somewhat “forced” to change their lifestyle as a result of their challenges. It is not always an easy transition for the client, so if you can make it fun and easy for them, they can adapt and heal faster. For the client experiencing no health challenges, educating them and including them in this concept will open their minds to a positive outcome as well.

Health challenges such as multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), also known as “environmental illness”, refers to a variety of non-specific symptoms reported by some people after possible exposure to chemical, biologic or physical agents. Symptoms can include headache, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, congestion, itching, sneezing, sore throat, chest pain, changes in heart rhythm, breathing problems, muscle pain or stiffness, skin rash, diarrhea, and more. Clients who suffer with MCS are highly likely to look for a spa or wellness centre that will have the least possible exposure to any agents that could cause these side effects.

Some of these clients may link their symptoms to contact with low levels of chemicals at work, perhaps while working in an office with poor ventilation. Areas in the spa that offer nail services using strong-smelling chemicals and no ventilation would not be a good place for this client to experience a service. Others with environmental sensitivities have conditions like asthma that can be triggered by plant pollen, dust, or mold, so limiting their presence in the spa is a must.

Many side effects to health challenges can be helped by stimulating acupoints when you incorporate these into regular spa services for specific conditions, such as exhaustion. Chi or Qi, according to Chinese traditional philosophy, is the main energy flow that runs through our body. Whenever the flow of Qi is altered or gets blocked up the body will experience pains or aches. The Qi flow is mainly within 12 meridians and these acupuncture points, or “acupoints”, are located on the lines of the Meridian. Acupuncture points are the points at which the Qi rises to the surface of the body. These points are specific points mapped out on the body which if stimulated have an influence on the internal organs they are correlated with. Key acupoints can be shown to the client, so that every time they experience exhaustion, they will remember what you have taught them, and it will have a positive outcome for them. Start with one acupoint, and if they continue to experience other ailments, find another acupoint that can benefit them.

The client who has undergone cancer treatment, or those who live with other chronic diseases like Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), may choose services with toxin-free products. This client would expect the spa environment to live up to its holistic approach. Thought should be given to construction materials which can release toxins into the air. Paints and other finishes with low or zero levels of volatile organic compounds (VOC) should be used. The flooring should be hardwood, which has minimal formaldehyde emissions, or bamboo, which is a better chemical-free option, provided no glues are used to adhere it to the floor.

In order to remain consistent with the concept of a holistic spa, a recycling program and sustainable practices like using filtered water taps instead of buying bottled drinking water could be adopted. These are cheaper alternatives and both practices limit waste in the spa.

Therapies like shiatsu, Ayurvedic massage, acupuncture and reflexology add to the holistic array of services. Add-ons such as a diffuser with changing LED lights can be beneficial in treatment rooms since colour therapy can play a major role in setting a particular mood or state of mind. An essential oil or a blend of oils that the client selects at the time of treatment can also be put into the water and diffused throughout the room during the service.

If you are planning to venture into the holistic spa arena, take time to consider whether this is a concept you can commit to whole heartedly. To live it, you have to believe in it.  

A HOLISTIC SPA LOOKING FOR CLIENT RETENTION NEEDS TO BE VERY CLEAR IN ITS CONCEPT AND HOW THIS WILL BENEFIT CLIENTS, INCLUDING THOSE WITH HEALTH CHALLENGES WHO ARE SOMEWHAT “FORCED” TO CHANGE THEIR LIFESTYLE AS A RESULT OF THEIR CHALLENGES.  


Morag Currin is the company owner and educational professional of Oncology Training International (OTI) whose innovative concepts were designed to provide more advanced comforting modalities of esthetic treatments and care for patients undergoing cancer treatments.

By Morag Currin | Spring 2016