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Cornell Study Quantifies the Destination Spa Experience -- Differentiates the Merits of a Destination Spa
Vacation from Other Vacation Experiences
May 17, 2004 - A spa vacation will leave you relaxed and refreshed -- everyone knows that. And, according to a new study by Cornell University, a visit to a destination spa -- a place where mind, body and spirit can be renewed, enriched and enhanced -- more than any other type of vacation, will also result in a feeling of increased energy, focus and creativity in the workplace.

Conducted by Professor Mary H. Tabacchi, Ph.D., R.D., Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, and the Survey Research Institute of Cornell University, researchers polled 500 randomly selected destination spagoers and compared their responses with a similar demographic of non-destination spa vacationers following their vacation experiences.

Key among the many findings of this study was that destination spagoers believed that after a destination spa vacation, they:

  • led business affairs with more acumen, energy and creativity, as compared to non-destination spagoers after their respective vacations. 
  • returned to work significantly more energetic, alert and "in the zone" when it came to business matters compared to non-destination spagoers. 
  • found decision-making was enhanced and their ability to handle challenges was markedly improved. 
  • felt significantly more focused and alert compared to the perceptions of non-destination spa vacationers.
"Nobody before has attempted to quantify the destination spa experience -- or to differentiate the merits of a destination spa vacation from other vacation experiences," says Professor Tabacchi. "Low variability in both the destination spagoer populations and the vacation population indicates that the differences between destination spagoers and non-spagoers are very credible."

A true destination spa is defined as an environment that is dedicated to educating people about the benefits of physical activity, nutritious meals, mind-body connection and harmony, and therapeutic advantages of massage and body treatments.

"The mission of a destination spa is to motivate and enlighten guests on how to achieve healthier, more joyous living," said Michelle Kleist, Executive Director of Destination Spa Group (DSG), an organization of 25 destination spas that meet the criteria of providing such a health-renewing experience. "Destination spas have become a viable category of vacation experiences. This study (commissioned by DSG) corroborates what we have heard for years about the lasting benefits of this type of immersion spa vacation."

Professor Tabacchi said that destination spagoers reported that they like the opportunity to relax mentally, to have time to sort out the truly essential aspects of life, to be physically active, to eat healthfully and arrive home happier and more alert when dealing with business issues than when they left home.

"In other words, these destination spagoers wish to put life's issues into perspective and to be able to function at an inspirational level in business and in their relationships," she concluded.

Respondents were randomly chosen from the guest lists of 25 destination spas. Five hundred completed surveys were obtained from these guests. Their responses were then compared to a list of randomly selected individuals who had not attended a destination spa but who had taken at least one vacation in the past 12 months. Five hundred completed surveys from these non-destination spagoers were obtained and compared.


Cornell University
Mary Tabacchi, Ph.D.

Also See: Survey Evaluates 200 Destination and Resort Spas Using Seven Criteria / Mar 2000
Miraval Resort's Spa Garner's Nations Best Spa from Four Magazines / April 2004

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