Aegeo Spas: The best spa in Southeast Europe is Greek

Aegeo Spas

Spas are a hidden opportunity as they are a market where tourists spend 41% more than the average traveller.

Aegeo Spas wants to exploit the hidden opportunity in Greece since international wellness tourists spend 41% more than the average traveller. The company has now partnered with 220 hotels in its three operating markets: Greece, Cyprus, and Bulgaria.

"Overall, wellness travel represents over 7.8% of all travel and 18.7% of all travel spending, having seen a significant increase from 2019 when they accounted for 6.5% of all travel and 15 .3% of travel expenses worldwide," says Mr Zacharias Chnaris, head of the company.

Last year, the World Luxury Spa Awards named Aegeo Spas the best Luxury Spa Group in Southern Europe and distinguished it as the best Luxury Spa Group in Europe.

Aegeo Spas

Internationally, the wellness industry is expected to generate $8.5 trillion by 2027, from $5.6 trillion in 2022 (according to the latest data from the Global Wellness Economy Monitor 2023 of the Global Wellness Institute) with more than obvious prospects for Greece, especially as the number of rooms in the 4* and 5* categories increases.

It is indicative that, based on the international data cited by Mr Chnaris, the significant contribution of wellness to travel spending is related to the fact that wellness travellers tend to spend more on travel than the average traveller.

In 2022, those who took wellness trips abroad, outside their home country, spent an average of $1,764 (€1,633) per trip, 41% more than the average traveller. In 2020-2022, wellness travel grew 30.2% and spending 36.2% year-on-year, respectively (significantly higher than the growth rates of total tourism travel and spending, at 23.8% and 28.4%, respectively).

Europe is the market with the most wellness travel, while North America is the market with the highest spending. In particular, the US accounted for 24% of travel and 39% of spending in 2022.

Interestingly, European countries comprised the other four places in the top five in total travel expenses (USA, Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland). In contrast, 300 million wellness trips were made in Europe in 2022.

Based on a recent McKinsey survey, 82% of Americans and 73% and 87% of British and Chinese consumers, respectively, said that wellness is a priority in their daily lives, a trend that is particularly strong among younger generations in terms of physical health, diet, exercise, but also mindfulness and sleep. 58% of consumers indicated that wellness is a priority for 2024, highlighting the opportunities for businesses in the sector.

According to Mr Chnari, trips that include wellness on a second level (such as visiting a hotel spa) make up the vast majority of wellness travel overall (88% in 2022) and wellness travel spending (85% in 2022).

"This practically means that wellness is potentially a key point of any leisure or business trip," he explained.

From 2020-2022, hotel spas have the highest revenue growth rate (29% annual revenue growth), returning almost to pre-pandemic levels. The strong growth of wellness tourism supports the rapid growth of hotel spas, as more consumers seek to enjoy their wellness habits when they travel.

"Wellbeing is now a key pillar of competitiveness for hotels and resorts," said Chnaris.

Aegeo Spas

Aegeo Spas currently cooperates with 220 4+* and 5* hotels in three markets: Greece, Cyprus, and Bulgaria.

"Important Greek tourism markets also include British, German, Austrian, Poles, and Americans, who visit the spas managed by Aegeo Spas in partner hotels," he said.

In 2023, overnight stays in the hotels with which the company cooperated reached 21.5 million throughout the network. Aegeo Spas started its journey back in 2007, when Mr. Chnaris, from Crete, co-founded the company with Andreas Metaxas of Creta Maris.

Metaxa Hospitality Group's Creta Maris Resort and Candia Maris Resort & Spa were also the first hotels to partner with Aegeo Spas that year. The following year, Voulgaris Hospitality Group's Kontokali Bay Resort & Spa became the first hotel outside of Crete.

Ten years ago, in 2014, Premier Luxury Mountain Resort opened its first hotel outside Greece in Bansko, Bulgaria. In 2019, the company emerged as the best luxury spa group before the pandemic.

Aegeo Spas

Now, in addition to its presence in three markets, Aegeo Spas has a workforce of over 1,300 employees in popular tourist destinations (Athens, Thessaloniki, Rhodes, Crete, Santorini, Kos, Corfu, Halkidiki, etc.) and partnerships with some of the biggest Greek and international hotel names.

Its activities include, among others, the signature cosmetics line Aegeo Spas Cosmetics.

As reported by its staff, "the wellness philosophy developed by the company is characterised by Greek raw materials and special service protocols inspired by the respective destination (e.g., wellness service inspired by Crete)."

The training part is also important. The company organises and participates in information and candidate search events throughout Greece and develops partnerships with educational institutions such as IEK AKMI – whose students had access to Aegeo Spas scholarships in 2023.

Stefania Souki is a columnist for New Money. Translated by Paul Antonopoulos

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