Indonesia's riches in herbs and spices, local wisdom and cultural heritage have made traditional spas one of the businesses with the most potential in the nation.
A government move last year to include spas in its special interest tourism category to strengthen the nation's position as a spa destination, at least in Asia, promises to make the spa business in the country more promising.
Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry marketing director general Esthy Reko Astuty said that spa treatments offered at tourist destinations such as Bali have become a lure to attract not only foreign but also local tourists.
'The back-to-nature concept is getting more popular among people, including Indonesians, and it has become a new trend. More people are now seeking traditional spa treatments, especially when they feel tired or when they are on holiday,' Esthy told The Jakarta Post recently.
She said that the ministry has been aggressively promoting local spa industry players at many events both at home and abroad.
Meanwhile, the CEO of giant Indonesian cosmetic company Mustika Ratu, Putri K. Wardani, said that the demand for spa treatments in the country is increasing from year to year as more people feel the need to ease pressure from work, especially those who live in buzzing cities such as Jakarta.
'Nowadays, the demand does not only come from women but also from men and teenage students. Spas have become a necessary and an essential element in their lives,' Putri told the Post, adding that more people are regularly going to spas to get treatment.
In order to accommodate rising demand, the firm offers a happy hour program from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m at its Taman Sari Royal Heritages Spa outlets, where customers can get treatment for a less-expensive price while waiting for traffic jams to ease, she said.
The firm currently operates 26 Taman Sari Royal Heritages Spa outlets in cities such as Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Bali and Palembang, South Sumatra.
In foreign countries, Mustika Ratu has opened its spa parlors in Malaysia, Japan, Canada, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria.
She said that in Canada, Taman Sari has twice been awarded as a top-10 spa destinations for North American countries.
'We plan to add more outlets in the coming years. We are going to look at the demand, potential and the readiness of our management,' she said, refusing to reveal the number of outlets they want to open and their locations.
In addition, she said that the firm provides Home Spa Taman Sari products that are sold in department stores and cosmetic shops so that customers who do not have time to go to the parlors are able to have the traditional treatments at home. She said that the sales of the home spa treatment products were also rising.
Besides Mustika Ratu, another big player focusing on the beauty industry, the Martha Tilaar Group, also felt the rising spa demand from the market.
Martha Tilaar Group vice chairperson Wulan Tilaar Widarto said the increasing demand could be seen in the rise in its contribution to the spa business in terms of the whole group's revenues.
'The contribution is pretty big today and we expect the figure to exceed 30 percent in the future. We can say that we have seen a sharp increase in the demand for the past few years because people are getting more aware of health and wellness,' Wulan said, adding that the firm plans to launch new spa treatments next month to accommodate demand.
Currently, she said that there are 54 Martha Tilaar Salon Day Spa outlets in primary cities across the country from Aceh to Papua, Brunei Darussalam, and Malaysia.
Demand has also pushed the firm to open 10 new outlets this year such as in Jakarta; Bandung, West Java; Medan, North Sumatra; Makassar, South Sulawesi; Padang, West Sumatra and Jambi.
Moreover, the country's healthy economic growth has led serviced spa parlors to flourish in hotels,
including the budget and mid-scale ones.
Archipelago International, previously known as Aston International, provides in-room spa treatment in its budget hotels under the Favehotel and Neo brands, corporate marketing communications manager Febry M. Anindita said.
Similar to Archipelago, Tauzia Hotel Management spokeswoman Yani Sinulingga said that spa services are available in its mid-scale brand Harris Hotels.
'Even though we only provide simple Javanese and Balinese traditional spa services, it has become one of the most important facilities in our hotels because demand has grown,' Yani said.