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Anitra Brown

The Trouble With Conde Nast Traveler's Top Spas List

By February 25, 2013

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Conde Nast Traveler has released the results of its annual Readers' Poll of the top 270 Spas of 2013. And while it's fun to look at, and gives 270 spas bragging rights (especially those in the #1 slots), it doesn't mean anything about which spas are the best.

For instance, Peninsula Spa in New York City topped the list of U.S. hotel spas in 2012, with a perfect 100% score in spa treatments, facilities and staff. In 2013, it's not even on the list!

The spa hasn't closed, or plunged from stellar to horrid. But it's no longer managed by ESPA. Maybe marketing person who organized the write-in campaign last year didn't work on it this year. With the advent of online ballots, readers' polls are more susceptible than ever to manipulation by organized marketing departments. A good campaign to get out the employee vote can do a lot to raise you in the ranks.

I'm glad Conde Nast Traveler brought back the destination spa category this year, after getting rid of it in 2010. But it still has some problems. Miraval, a true destination spa, is listed as the #74 resort spa. (Admittedly, it calls itself a "spa resort" but the editors should make the distinction.)

Ten Thousand Waves in Santa Fe, New Mexico is the #4 destination spa. Enchanting in its way, it is primarily a lovely outdoors bathhouse with a handful of very quirky accommodations, Meanwhile, Canyon Ranch Tucson, one of the world's great spas, is nowhere to be found because only five destination spas are listed.

So have fun looking it over the list. Just take it with a load of salt.

April 14, 2013 at 6:28 am
(1) Dee Smith says:

I am in total agreement with you over the manipulation of results. As “social signals” generate a lot of poll results, so it becomes easier for those with an agenda to bend the rules.
The sad result as you so rightly point out is that truly good and great establishments fall to the bottom of ratings through no fault of their own. The pity then is that potential customers who want and need the services of the Spa are given less than the best and left wondering why.

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