Bucharest Spa-Goers Spend Over EUR1,000 A Year On Membership Cards

10.27.2011 By Tiron Mirabela

At least 10,000 people go to luxury wellness centers in Bucharest and spend EUR10 million to EUR16 million in fitness studios, saunas and spas, reveals a ZF analysis, which calculated the figure starting from a EUR1,000-EUR1,600 average price of an annual membership to such a center.

Marius Nedelcu, manager of World Class Health Academy Romania, which operates eight fitness and wellness centers throughout the country (six in Bucharest, one in Timisoara and one in Cluj) says that the network reached 15,000 annual memberships, over 1,000 more compared with last year, 60% to 70% of which were bought by individual customers.

"Romania is considered World Class' 'money maker', because of the high number of memberships. Whereas World Class Romania has 15,000 memberships, 80% of which taken by Romanians and the rest by foreigners, it has 2,000 memberships in Croatia, 1,000 in Poland and 4,000 in the Czech Republic," said Marius Nedelcu.

World Class operates 38 clubs in 14 countries.

An annual World Class membership costs EUR1,000; a discount is offered to individuals who buy one via contracts signed with companies. Corporate clients get 20% to 40% discount depending on the number of employees they send.

Romanians are among Europe's laggards when it comes to exercising, reveals the "Sport and Physical Activity" barometer of the European Commission published last year. Seven in ten Romanians never play sport or do so less than once a month. Only four in 100 Romanians go to a fitness center, compared with Bulgarians and Czechs (one in ten) and Swedes (one in three), statistical data reveal. The main reasons so few Romanians choose to go exercise in a fitness center are education in this field, the still low number of studios open, especially outside Bucharest and the low purchasing power.

The market of fitness studios in Romania started taking shape in the early 2000s, when international operators like World Class entered the market to compete with fitness studios on the ground floor of apartment buildings and private clubs developed by independent entrepreneurs. Massive investments in this market have been made in the last three years.

When World Class first arrived on the Romanian market in 2000, foreigners used to buy most memberships, 80%, while Romanians bought 20%. The ratio has now reversed, World Class representative says.

The company did not say how high its revenue was last year, merely revealing it had gone up several percent this year.

World Class is the only operator with a network of fitness clubs on the local market. However, there are also several companies operating luxury fitness centers.

Such operators include Pescariu Sport & Spa, owned by tennis player Dinu Pescariu, which targets premium customers, IDM Wellness Club, Orhideea Fitness & Spa and Alexandreea Club Fitness & Spa.

Bogdan Comsa, manager of fitness and spa center Alexandreea Club in Bucharest, opened two years ago, says its customers are high-income people, because a yearly membership costs EUR1,200.

Alexandreea Club has 1,000 memberships sold, over half of which taken for one year and providing access to every club facility. The club, registered to Alex Com 94 company posted 2.48 million lei (EUR0.57 million) revenue last year, and RON1.7 million (EUR0.39 million) losses, according to Finance Ministry data.

Ada Cirap, manager of Orhideea Spa, said that the club had almost 1,000 memberships sold, a little over 500 taken for one year; an annual membership costs over EUR1,000. The center that opened in the Orhideea Gardens residential project developed by businessman Daniel Piturlea this year entailed a EUR3 million investment and owners expect EUR1 million revenue in the first year in business. An annual membership that includes access to the fitness studio, sauna and spa costs EUR1,600 per person.

There are about 500 fitness studios in operation in Romania, according to market data, the most luxurious of which are in Bucharest.

(English version by Loredana Fratila)


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