Why This Chilly Trend is Taking Hold of the Travel Industry
Luxury resorts and spas are known for going above and beyond to provide their guests with a superior experience. With top-of-the-line amenities, gracious staff and unique offerings, guests are often given the opportunity to experience things they would not normally experience in their everyday life. One unique wellness trend that has been used to appeal to elite travelers is cryotherapy, an icy offering that dates back to ancient civilizations.
What Is Cryotherapy?
Whole body cryotherapy (WBC) is a process that uses extremely low temperatures to promote wellness. The technology, which involves a chamber called a cryosauna, uses nitrogen gas at temperatures as low as -184° Fahrenheit or -120° Celsius for three minutes in order to decrease skin temperature, which can activate the body’s innate healing response (similar to an ice bath).
Whole body cryotherapy was introduced in Japan during the 1970s to treat rheumatoid arthritis and its use quickly spread and expanded throughout Europe. To experience this fast-growing trend, users simply step into a cryosauna chamber, which leaves the head exposed. Users wear thermal gloves, thermal socks, cryotherapy boots and undergarments while the skin experiences a rapid drop in temperature. This process can leave users feeling rejuvenated and with a sense of euphoria.
Although cryotherapy is relatively new, it has seen tremendous growth and has established a cult following similar to the “tribe” at SoulCycle. Impact Cryotherapy has even seen 364 percent growth in customer sessions since Q3 2015 and the cryotherapy market is predicted to continue expanding.
It All Started With Elite Athletes
Much of the buzz surrounding cryotherapy started when elite athletes and professional teams began using it as a way to help their muscles recover more quickly. This interest extended to many upscale gyms and university athletic programs. Teams such as the Kansas City Royals and the Miami Marlins and universities such as Georgetown and the University of Missouri have recently added cryotherapy to help give their athletes an edge. Top trainers and fitness enthusiasts are also beginning to include whole body cryotherapy in their workout regimes to help their clients train harder, get results and get back in the game faster.
So why are all these athletes freezing themselves? Preliminary research published in the Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine, which reviewed a set of controlled studies of whole body cryotherapy, has hypothesized that the therapy could have a positive influence on inflammatory mediators, antioxidant capacity and autonomic function during sporting recovery. Other published studies have similarly urged further research to determine its exact physical effects. All things being equal, at the end of the day, a three-minute cryotherapy session is, at a minimum, preferable to a 20-minute ice bath!
Another example of where cryotherapy has seen gaining popularity is on the PGA Tour. Several PGA touring pros have already taken the deep freeze according to GOLF magazine, including Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Zach Johnson and Padraig Harrington. The growing interest in the golf world has also pushed many resorts and spas to offer the unique therapy as a way to attract elite golfers. However, resorts are not only implementing the technology as a way to appeal to professional athletes; they also hope to attract the many jetsetters and business travelers who are also taking advantage of this growing wellness trend.
Why Spas and Resorts Are Implementing It
Since cryotherapy no longer appeals only to elite athletes, spas and resorts have been quick to add it to their wellness offerings to remain cutting-edge and attract wellness-focused travelers, some of whom prefer to use cryotherapy as a way to help with jet lag.
In fact, The Spa at Sea Island, a Forbes Five-Star resort on the coast of southeast Georgia, was the first to implement cryotherapy. Sea Island is the ideal venue for whole body cryotherapy because it further complements its already impressive spa and fitness facilities. Sea Island is also well-known for its golf tradition and is home to three championship golf courses, including Seaside, site of the PGA Tour’s McGladrey Classic, as well as the nation’s finest Golf Performance Center. Since cryotherapy has become increasingly prevalent in the golf world, Sea Island has implemented it as a way to appeal to its elite golfer guests, providing them with a convenient and quick option that complements recovery and relaxation.