According to the results from the survey, the major challenge faced by the growing spa industry in Dubai has been the sourcing of skilled manpower, followed by an increase in price sensitive customers and influx of new spa entrants to the market.

Commenting on the outcome Filippo Sona, Head of Hotels, Colliers International in the MENA region said: “Given that Dubai currently offers a very limited number of spa-specific college level courses and training programmes, it is not surprising that recruitment of therapists was identified as the biggest challenge that the market faced last year. At present operators rely on external training which is both time consuming and costly. Changes are on track, however, as spa courses are being introduced into curriculums.”

Sona continued, “An area that does need further attention, however, is the continuous stream of new entrants offering the latest in design and technology. The Dubai hotel spa market, for example, witnessed 11 new opening in 2015 alone. This presents spa operators with a dilemma. Should I invest in new trends? Or cater to the rise of value-driven consumers? The answer is knowing your market and knowing when to say yes to an emerging trend.”

Colliers research and analysis reveals that overall, the Dubai Spa Market has experienced an increase in demand in 2015, as demonstrated by the increase in average number of a treatments sold per day, up 7% from 2013. The data indicates a positive trend for spas, highlighting the growing popularity of spa visits. At the same time, spa operators have observed a rise in the price sensitivity of consumers, indicated by the lack of growth reported in average treatment rates over the same period.

Both Resort Spas and City Hotel Spas have also experienced a rise in the number of walk-in guests. The share of walk-in guests in Resort Spas increased from 27% to 37% between 2014 and 2015, and from 40% to 43% in City Hotel Spas, indicating heightened interest in spa treatments within the domestic market. This supports the survey results which revealed that the UAE/GCC is the top market for City Hotel Spas and second top market for Beach and Desert Resort Spas.

Sona concluded: “Despite the challenges, the Dubai spa market has remained resilient and continues to grow. Over 76% of respondents expect spa revenues to continue to grow in 2016 which is a tremendous result and indicative of the rising growth of the industry and its ability to drive guest bookings.”