Spas are becoming more popular in the United States.

Last year, Americans visited spas a record 190 million times. And they spent about $18.3 billion dollars. Those numbers come from the International Spa Association, or ISPA.

The industry group recently held its yearly event for the media. Garrett Mersberger is the association’s board chairman. He spoke to the Associated Press about trends in the industry.

One trend: More American men have been going to spas. “It used to always be a female-driven thing. We’re now seeing 50-50, if not swinging more toward the males,” Mersberger said.

He said the trend started around 2017, when the association reported that 49 percent of people going to spas were men, up from 29 percent in 2005.

“They’re [men are] much more aware that it’s not just a thing I go to getpampered. It’s an actual lifestyle choice with benefits to my body, to my wellness…It’s not just about going for relaxation,” Mersberger said.

Another trend: Spas are using more technology. Kohler Waters Spas, for example, recently launched a virtual reality headset meant to be used for guided meditation.

The experience offers the choice of music or the sound of a person’s voice with pictures during manicures and pedicures. The headsets show pictures of mountain lakes, beaches, waterfalls, clouds and the night sky. Kohler is considering more virtual reality devices to go with massages and other treatments.

Charging stations at manicure and pedicure areas are also on the rise. That way, people getting treatments can keep their electronic devices fully charged.

“Nothing stresses a Millennial out more than taking their phone away,” said Linda McNees, the ISPA’s president. “The whole idea is to be able to relax, so it’s really about thinking about customization. What’s going to make you comfortable?”

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