KATHMANDU: With relaxation techniques growing popular among the valley denizens, the demand for spas has
also increased. Previously, spas were confined to certain star hotels, whereas at present, many parts of the city, especially the affluent ones, boast of their own spas.
One reason for this affirmative surge could be that earlier, there was a negative concept regarding spa culture among the general public, and foreigners formed their chief clientele. Along with the passage of time, this prejudice has changed to a great extent. Today, one can find dozens of standard spas in the valley along with numerous sub-standard ones mushrooming in every nook and corner. The major problem facing the industry right now is the lack of classification of these constantly emerging spas. A few of them have well-maintained facilities along with trained human resources, while the rest of them are simply operating the business without maintaining required standards. While some genuinely good spas have even expanded their business to a great extent with several branches. Lack of criterion for the establishment of spas is distinctly felt, as most of these so-called spas are not fit to be called one.
Bhuwan Phaiju, owner of Tranquility Spa, is excited with the way the spa industry is growing. He said, “Nepalis are gradually taking to the spa culture, and almost 70 per cent of our customers comprise of Nepali nationals.” This is a great improvement from the scenario a couple of years ago, when only foreigners used to attend spas. “Initially, it was hard to convince customers about the concept of spa as they were biased against it,” he said, adding that today, this has undergone major rectification. For him, today’s challenges in the spa business are growing irregularity in the establishment of the spas and unhealthy competition. “Since there are no special legalities to
establish a spa, the number of so-called spas are growing, which is merely inviting unhealthy competition,” he shared.
Adding that there are hardly two-dozen standard spas in town and that those which do not meet the standards far outnumber them, Phaiju opined that the government needs to keep an eye on these spas and fix some regulatory mechanism to classify and monitor them. According to him, another major challenge facing the industry is the dearth of skilled human resource, which has been a problem since the very beginning. “There is a growing demand for spas by both Nepalis, tourist and expatriates in Nepal as well as across the globe,” he said, complaining that this has increased the trend for youngsters to opt for training and spa courses before opting for a job abroad instead of joining domestic establishments.
Meanwhile, Rajan Shrestha, marketing manager of Zen Spa, is satisfied with the turn the business has taken. “We are pleased with the growing popular-ity and demand of spa culture in the valley,” he said, adding that their spa is chiefly visited by foreigners as it is situated in Thamel. According to him, the market for spa is expanding as urban people are becoming aware about its benefits. However, he complained that the lack of categorisation among spas has hampered the business. For him, prolonged load shedding is yet another problem which creates hurdle in smooth operation.
“Spa business is one of the booming businesses in the valley at the moment,” shared Prabhakar Lama, public relations manager at Chaitanya Spa, Nepal’s first medi-spa. “Incessant emergence of new spas is the sign of encouraging market for spa business in the valley,” he said, adding that the business will not saturate even if the number of existing spas double. He is of the opinion that Nepalis are becoming more health and fitness conscious, which is boosting the market for spas. According to him, a well-operated spa makes
an earning of up to Rs 150,000 per month from the business.
Complaining that there is lack of monitoring and regulation, he urged the government to come up with some mechanism to control the unhealthy practice being exercised in the name of spa business.