Printed from : LMD

04 Nov 2011

Spa status report - Brazil
   BY Lisa Starr

Spas and spa associations are beginning to coalesce as a group in a number of countries, to exchange ideas and information and gain strength through numbers.

In August, I attended the first-ever Brazilian Spa Congress, which was held in conjunction with the 2nd Medical Travel Meeting Brazil.

Both events were held at the Sheraton World Trade Center in São Paulo, sharing keynote and break facilities while allowing each group to attend more specific panel presentations and exhibitor booths.

Attendees included physicians, hospital staff, education and research centres, media and banking representatives, as well as spa and aesthetic clinic owners and managers.

Brazil is estimated to have around 4,000 aesthetic clinics, which are specifically skincare driven, and about 1,000 spas, which combine massage, body and skincare services.

While in Brazil, I was able to tour a number of spas in São Paulo, and also a new beauty education facility at Universidad Anhembi Morumbi. This spa training clinic consists of 1200 square metres of treatment rooms, consultation areas, dispensaries, nail area, salon and even experience showers and an outdoor bamboo garden for clinic clients.

Students undertake a four-year degree, and are taught about customer service, nutrition and psychology as well as beauty therapies. At the conclusion of their education they can sit for a licensing test, although Brazil has no certification board and no government agency oversees the beauty sector.

I visited a large spa called Hara, which is recognized as the largest in Brazil with 35-40 treatment rooms (no one was sure!). This spa is in a well-to-do area of São Paulo, and offers services on two levels around a courtyard. Some of the treatment rooms of the courtyard had glass floors opening onto koi ponds, and the whole place was done in an Asian theme, with elements of Buddhism, Hindi and Muslim cultures all present.

Kalamma Spa offers yoga, pilates and hair services along with spa services and a small locker room, and Orris Spa, on a residential hillside, offered advanced skincare, spa and nail services along with extensive wet treatments, and had created outdoor spa spaces with breezy curtains and trees in the backyard.

I also visited several Buddha Spas, part of a growing chain of both company-owned and franchised locations, also with an Asian theme and some excellent signature treatments.

Even with the number of spas currently in Brazil, the industry is still in its early stages. Clients are used to going to aesthetic clinics for their skincare, and the spas are still developing their skincare services to augment massage and body treatments.

However, in a metropolis such as São Paulo with 22 million people, the need for relaxation and stress-relief is just as present as in other developed countries, and the spas are working on relaxation spaces for their clients.

Without governmental certification and licensing, the level of training of most therapists is not high, and English is not widely spoken, which will likely slow the rate of skills advancement as far as international standards.

There are also infrastructure challenges, such as the 35 per cent tax on payroll on certain businesses. But Brazilian people are eager to learn and evolve so this fast-growing country can join the ranks of world class spas destinations.

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