I have been fortunate to have been in Egypt now for 4 months on a Raison d’Etre spa project. Combine this with other projects we have done in Egypt including openings, design and research we now have a very clear picture on the Egyptian spa market.
Egypt is clearly a developing spa market. 5 years ago the spa market consisted of a few hotels having a few boring treatment rooms located in the darkest part of the hotel, usually tied in with the gym/health club concept and offered minimal services, with a poor standard of spa treatment.
Now the hotel/resort market has finally awoken and are now embracing spas and building genuine spas complete with all the necessary services and facilities. There is no better example of this than the resort I am currently working at – Les Residence des Cascades Golf Resort & Thalasso Centre, Soma Bay – a 65 treatment room spa & Thalasso centre complete with a very impressive 750m2 Thalasso Hydrotherapy pool. Nearly everything you need in terms of facilities and services is offered and as Raison d’Etre will be involved in this project there are many exciting developments on the horizon to create Egypt’s first genuine destination spa concept.
Also in the market are the usual suspects of Four Seasons, Kempinski and Fairmont who are already established with regards to hotel spas in Egypt. Also under development are more Kempinski and Four Seasons hotels as well as St Regis, Ritz Carlton and MGM hotels.
Hotel operators have seen a steady increase in hotel occupancy over the past few months, notably since political stability has crept back into Egypt. Egypt is blessed that it attracts millions of international tourists per year not only for cultural and historical tourism but also the almost 365 days of sunshine, warm weather and stunning beaches. It is no wonder that so many europeans flock to locations like the Red Sea.
But with a huge tourist market, stunning weather and hotels everywhere – why has the Egyptian spa market not boomed and why are so many tourists leaving their spa dollars in their wallet?
The answer is bureaucracy. There are two major hurdles when managing a spa in Egypt:
1) Therapist Staffing
It is very difficult to find good, qualified therapists. This is not just an Egypt problem, but a global one. What makes staffing even more challenging in Egypt is the visa process that is required to hire expat/foreign therapists. This sometimes takes months and when you have to wait that long to get a therapist on site, they often become frustrated and give up, or more likely they get other offers and move elsewhere.
There are currently only two recognized spa product brands that are legally registered to be sold in Egypt, yes – only two! This is due to the archaic product registration process that companies are forced to go through, which not only takes months to years to complete, but also carries a considerable cost. No wonder spa product brands run away when asked to supply spas in Egypt!
So hotels are stuck in a situation where they are obviously keen to attract spa guests to Egypt and their hotels, but due to the above issues, this makes it very difficult to be able to offer a high quality spa product.
This however presents Egypt with a fantastic opportunity to develop into a genuine spa destination if the government is prepared to target the spa market through greater efficiencies in the visa process as well as the relaxation of the current archaic registration process on spa products. Egyptian tourism would undoubtedly benefit from having more quality spas throughout the country and would benefit even greater by having tourists spending more of their hard earned dollars in spas, in Egypt.
Hotel owners, hotel operators and investors – speak up and bring change to the spa market in Egypt!!