Feeling good: That’s what rich Kenyans want to splurge on


Massage therapist carrying out sea salt ritual treatment at Hemingways in Nairobi. PHOTO | POOL

Rich Kenyans are rethinking how best to enjoy their wealth more satisfactorily.

It is a spa treatment worth Sh300,000 or Sh10,000 monthly hormone therapy that slows down aging or having a family doctor, masseuse, meditation teacher, and personal fitness trainer on a payroll.

A report by StanChart Wealth Expectancy 2021 released this month states that 73 percent of affluent people and high-net-worth individuals’ top priority is “looking after their health and fitness.”

Improving the home and immediate surroundings, triggered by working from home and lockdowns that demanded better outdoor spaces including mood-boosting gardens, was the second priority, followed by accumulating more wealth.

Dance for old

Because the pandemic was almost an equaliser; that the wealthy could not travel out of the country for treatment due to the closure of borders, which made them feel powerless, many of those in bad shape are aiming to lose weight and ward off lifestyle diseases.

“Demand for spa and wellness has greatly appreciated. Many people are now more aware of the need for self-care and a healthy lifestyle. The affluent are focusing their energies on the value and benefits of something as simple as a spa treatment,” said Stella Muthoni, Villa Rosa Kempinski spa manager.

Ms Muthoni adds that apart from the spas, subscriptions at fitness centres have risen.

Over the past years, the need for the affluent to optimise their health has courted investors offering everything from energy-boosting injections, age-defying treatments, week-long detox retreats, healthy eating classes, to Zumba classes for the old and retired in country clubs.

From the use of seawater, gold particles, to a special clay, spas have elevated the game of pampering, bringing to Kenya treatments that the wealthy could only experience when travelling abroad.

At Billionaire Resort and Lion in the Sun in Malindi, for instance, it is the ancient practice of using seawater combined with a massage technique that traces its healing powers to ancient Chinese medicine that draws the rich to the spas.

The method, they say, helps ease stress, while restoring the balance between body and mind.

“The method purifies the body. Such pampering helps us to love ourselves a little bit more,” says Ludovico Dupre, the head of hotel division for Majestas.

The rich who frequent the hotels associated with Italian billionaire Flavio Briatore also favour hydrotherapy, a water treatment.

“The affluent in high intensity, hectic lives want to re-charge and experience a few days or an entire week of relaxation and self-discovery. And they expect to be pampered with all the comforts that they are used to,” says Mr Dupre.

To cater to these picky needs, Serenity Spa in Nairobi’s Gigiri and Kitisuru, whose face, neck, hands, and thigh treatments could go up to Sh20,000 for two and half hours, has had to import the natural products they use from Europe and South Africa.

They do chemical peels and nano-needling where they use fine needles to prick your skin to stimulate new collagen production to make the skin look younger, tighter, and firmer.

Demand for their services is highest during birthdays, anniversaries, or Christmas and Valentines’ Day.

Happy in five years

In the latest Euromonitor Report, consumers interviewed believe they will be happier in the next five years by seeking self-love, engaging in stress-reduction and mental wellness activities.

Massage, meditation, herbal remedies, using sleep aids, and spa visits rank top among the activities that will help them reduce stress and improve their mental well-being.

Any products or experience that empower these consumers is expected to drive purchase decisions.

“Consumers crave comfort and love as life returns to normal…self-love seekers invest in taking care of their bodies and minds, from what they consume to the products they use. They splurge in ways that match their lifestyle,” the report stated.

According to Serenity Spa, it is not only the affluent who have increased their visits to the spa but also the middle-class, something also Villa Rosa Kempinski and Hemingways Nairobi agrees with.

For Hemingways, located in Karen, spa supervisor and therapist, Esther Wanjiku says what has fuelled demand for different kinds of treatments, ranging from the use of aromatic and mineral-rich body wraps to detox, to exfoliating rituals using coconut, cinnamon, and coffee that leave the skin feeling silky smooth is awareness of the health benefits.

Paying to sit in a steam room, sauna and indoor jacuzzi is commonplace.

“Since the pandemic started, we have seen an influx of clients meaning that now more than ever, people are prioritising their health and wellness. Lately, clients prefer getting treatment in the spa versus visiting a doctor for example to treat something like back pain,” she said.

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