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Archive for August, 2012

Belly Friendly Highlights Prenatal Spa Programs in September

Dubbed the “biggest birth month” as more newborns arrived in September than in any other month, according to Babycenter, Belly Friendly, a prenatal education, recognition and marketing program for spas, is spotlighting prenatal spa treatments to consumers during the month of September. We talk to founder Stacy Denny about her program and how spas can benefit from becoming Belly Friendly.

“More than 16,000 pregnant women enter the market every day in the U.S., making this a prevalent, yet underserved market segment. The program is designed to encourage moms who may have never considered a prenatal spa service to try one at a Belly Friendly spa,” Denny says of the promotion, where spas that are a part of the Belly Friendly program are offering a $50 gift certificate for a future service to moms who book a prenatal service in September 2012. Denny also founded the prenatal spa Barefoot & Pregnant in 2003. “By offering the incentive to come back during the pregnancy, we avoid standard ‘discounting’ and have more opportunity to create a relationship.”

Denny created Belly Friendly after she realized the demand for specialized services that pregnant moms could trust.

“Not only were moms from across the country contacting us to find similar spas [to Barefoot & Pregnant] located in their area, I received dozens of calls from spa owners interested in creating a Barefoot & Pregnant environment,” Denny says. “To make the award-winning concept more available to spas and moms, I developed the Belly Friendly program which launched in January 2012.”

Partnering with Belly Friendly

Belly Friendly helps spas to be more proficient in catering to expecting moms through training programs and marketing support. To join, the spa must already offer a prenatal service and have specially trained therapists who perform the services. Belly Friendly requires this to filter out spas that either aren’t interested or don’t understand the impact of the prenatal spa market, Denny says. Once the commitment is made, all spa staff must complete the online training to be marketed as a Belly Friendly spa.

“As a Belly Friendly spa partner, spas receive extensive marketing support directly to the prenatal market via grass roots medical and community outreach, strategic relationships such as Fit Pregnancy magazine and TheBump, and online,” Denny explains. “We have strategic partnerships with key pregnancy media, and are able to leverage those relationships to help our partners receive exposure within the pregnancy industry – an industry that is difficult to reach for spas that need to focus on overall business goals and don’t have the resources to allocate to a specific niche.”

Spas also receive professionally designed collateral materials and marketing templates that can be easily customized and printed on demand, as well as a Belly Friendly “seal of approval.”

The online education portion is designed to help all spa employees—from the front desk and managers to therapists — understand the pregnancy experience and create a pregnancy-friendly environment. The education ranges from the myths and faux pas of pregnancy to what a mom is experiencing by trimester.

“It also provides an important segment focused on building therapist confidence  as we often see therapists that are specially trained continue to struggle with their fears and doubts in working with expecting moms,” says Denny. “The Belly Friendly education program enhances existing training; it does not replace the need for specialized prenatal massage training.”

So, what’s most important about a prenatal spa program?

“Safety and confidence,” says Denny. “If both the spa staff and the client feel safe and confident in the treatments that they are giving and receiving, then both will benefit from the experience. The key is removing the ‘modality’ from prenatal massage, and treating it as the experience that it is; this isn’t hot stone reflexology – this is a life changing experience that lasts for 40 weeks.  To treat it as a check mark on a spa menu does both client and spa a disservice.”

Spas across the country are partnering with Belly Friendly to become the destination in their communities for expecting moms, including many SpaFinder® Wellness spas like Guerlain Spa at Waldorf Astoria, New York; YeloSpa, New York; Hotel Healdsburg & Spa in Healdsburg, California; Valencia Day Spa in Frisco, Texas; Elixir Mind Body in Denver; and many more.

Some interesting stats: Barefoot & Pregnant and Mama Mio conducted an online survey in May and June 2011 that found that nearly all moms (95%) surveyed said they would be more likely to visit a spa with specialized prenatal training over another spa. More than 60% of respondents received prenatal spa treatments during pregnancy; 38% booked two to three spa services throughout their pregnancy; and 28% booked four or more services. Of those surveyed, 30% brought friends and family to the spa for accompanying services.  And, more than 60% of moms continue to visit the same spa post-pregnancy.

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Join Us at the 2012 ISPA Conference & Expo

This year’s ISPA Conference & Expo is taking place October 15-17 at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center, Kissimmee, Florida. As always, SpaFinder® Wellness is delighted to be part of this amazing event and cannot wait to visit with our industry partners.

We are also thrilled to join ISPA in honoring our very own, Susie Ellis, who has been bestowed with the 2012 ISPA Visionary Award! We caught up with Susie, who shared her sentiments on being this year’s winner:

“I am deeply honored to be among past recipients of the ISPA Visionary Award that include Deborah Szekely, who has been a special mentor to me during the four decades I have been privileged to be part of our incredible industry,” Susie says. “ISPA is a very important organization, recognized around the world, that brings great value to its members. This accolade makes me reflect on the profound changes in the size and perception of the world of spa that I have witnessed and for which I am proud to have been an advocate.  My passion is to help spas embrace their identity as wellness providers, and, through organizations like ISPA and the Global Spa & Wellness Summit, bring unity and a spirit of collaboration so together we can do an even better job of helping people find their path to a healthier lifestyle. I only wish I had another four decades to be part of this vibrant, exciting and valuable industry!”

Join us at booths 1128 and 1130, where we will be sharing the latest and greatest SpaFinder Wellness news: announcing the winners of our 2012 Readers’ Choice Awards and more!

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Spa Industry News Briefs

evian®SPA Concept to Launch Worldwide

Centered on purity, health and youthfulness, the first ever evian®SPA launched in May 2012 in Japan. Located on the fifth floor of the lavish Palace Hotel Tokyo, the luxury mineral water brand’s first concept spa covers 3,937 square feet and features six treatment rooms, a fitness studio, swimming pool with terrace and decor inspired by both French savoir faire and Japanese tradition. Starting this month, the brand plans to take the concept international. Read more.

Massage Envy to Host First Annual Wellness Recognition Rally in Washington, D.C.

September 15 will mark the First Annual Wellness Recognition Rally for massage therapists and estheticians throughout the greater Maryland, D.C., and northern Virginia area. Massage Envy will be sponsoring the event taking place in the Warner Theater in downtown D.C. The theme will be “A Better World…Through Your Hands.” For more information visit

Ritz-Carlton Vienna Opens Its Palace Doors

The Ritz-Carlton Vienna opened its doors on August 27. The building is comprised of four historic palaces dating back to the 19th century and features a rooftop bar, a club lounge overlooking Vienna, an indoor pool that plays underwater music and a six-room Guerlain Spa. Read more.

Kohler Waters Spa Announces Three New Locations

Renowned Kohler Waters Spa announced its launch of three new sites. The locations will include Kohler and Burr Ridge in the U.S. and St. Andrews in the UK. The signature hydrotherapy services will be offered at all three locations and a hammam ritual will be available to guests. This announcement comes along with news that Kohler Water Spas’ flagship location at Kohler’s American Club Resort now offers 12 new services, including five tailored for children between 12- to 15-years-old. Read more.

More Industry News

Mirbeau Inn & Spa Names Matthew Dower General Manager

Avia Spa Closed Is Doors on July 30

Spa of the Rockies at Glenwood Hot Springs Announces Megan Swanton as Spa Director

Carlson Appoints Trudy Rautio President and CEO

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Q&A: Kristin McGee, Celebrity Yoga & Pilates Instructor

Kristin McGee believes in using all forms of exercise to maintain true fitness in mind and body. Her versatile career expands from certified yoga and Pilates instructor, ACE-certified personal trainer, Fila’s yoga ambassador, magazine contributor for the likes of Health, Shape and Fitness, frequent TV fixture (CNN, Fox and Good Morning America, among others) and entrepreneur, with an extensive DVD collection, new iPhone/iPad app and more. Her innovative teaching style has garnered a loyal following, including celebrity clients like Steve Martin, Tina Fey and Bethenny Frankel, who says Kristin “helps fit yoga into your normal life.” We touch base with Kristin to see what’s at the core of this yoga and Pilates expert’s philosophy and brand.

What inspired you to create the Bendigirl method?
I was nicknamed Bendigirl on the set of the first MTV Yoga dvd I shot and the name stuck with me. I think it encompasses everything I’m trying to share as a yoga teacher and person with my students. Being Bendi is about being buoyant and flexible and full of life. When we are able to bend we don’t break. It’s rigidity in our bodies and minds that tend to break us down. If we can become bendi, when we fall, we bounce right back. Everyone in life will fall and sometimes time and time again…the goal is not to prevent the fall, but to learn how to bounce back. I think yoga, pilates, fitness, healthy mindset, good nutrition, loving ourselves and being with loved ones all help us become more bendable.

Can you give us an insider’s look at the core philosophy – as well as the importance/benefits – behind Bendigirl?
Bendigirl is really just my way of putting my trademark on my style of teaching. At the heart of it is just allowing students to realize that “Everything you could possibly ever want, have, or need, is right here inside of you.” Yoga helps us unite with ourselves and discover our deep inner potential and breath. Pilates keeps us connected to our core. Strength helps us feel courageous. Courage, Confidence and self care are all at the root of my fitness philosophy. We want to be fit, flexible, healthy and strong so we can flourish in life and enjoy every waking moment.

What sets the Bendigirl method apart from others, and why should spa and wellness locations adopt this approach?
I look at Bendigirl as approaching the entire person; not just on a physical level, but also mentally and spiritually. Spas and wellness locations always look at the entire being not just one part of the person. It is important to take care of all of us. To unite the mind and the body through the breath, movement, relationships, nutrition, self-care. It’s all a part of starting the journey on our mat but it doesn’t just stay on the mat. I think a great spa or a great class always comes home with you and resonates throughout the rest of your life. I want to teach students to rely on themselves not just when they’re in class; but to be able to take home all of what they’re learning and really thrive on their own.

How important is it for teens and tweens to start yoga at an early age, and why?
I think it’s very important for tweens and teens to start yoga at a young age because yoga helps us connect to our own inner guide and compass. As tween and teens are growing in to their own unique identity and becoming their own little individuals, yoga is an amazing tool to help them stay true to themselves. I wish I had discovered yoga when I was a little girl!

What challenges, if any, do you see the spa & wellness industry facing in the future?
I think the spa and wellness industry is going to continue to prosper. I really think people need a place to pamper themselves and step away from our overly productive lives. Being at a spa or in a yoga class, forces us to slow down and really listen in to what our bodies need. I think the only challenge will be accommodating everyone!

What are your personal goals going forward, and what are you most proud of accomplishing over the last five years?
Wow! Tough question. I want to have children. I am really ready to start a family of my own. I want to keep growing as Bendigirl and help as many people as I possibly can. I am so proud of the strength and confidence I’ve gained over the past 5 years. I am truly starting to embody everything I stand for. It is tough to stay centered sometimes and I used to doubt myself or look outside myself a lot more for the answers. Over the past 5 years, I’m turning inwards more and listening to my inner voice. I’m still open to learning from other’s as much as I can. I will always love the support I get from my family, husband and friends; but I know that only I’m the only one who can breathe for me and it’s important to pay close attention to each and every breath I take.

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Q&A with Anne Bramham, Founder, ASTECC

Anne Bramham shares her expertise in an illustrious career that spans from consultant, designer, trainer of spa therapies to founder of the Advanced Spa Therapy Education Certification Council (ASTECC). Her “constitutionally” based ASTECC curriculum is widely regarded as the benchmark for spa therapy education, and she is known for being the creator behind Spa Montage’s Surrender program.

What inspired you to create the Montage “Surrender” Program?

Drawing on my experience as a practitioner  I knew how important it was to guide guests toward treatments that would deliver the desired result.  At Montage, ‘Surrender’  serves as an invitation to experience spa’s therapeutic potential. It elevates  a spa visit into one of personalized care.

Can you give us an insiders look at the importance/ benefits of this particular program and what sets it apart from other spa/wellness programming out there?
The program’s lifestyle and constitutional analysis are two of the indicators that allow us to determine what combination of  biochemical elements and treatments will best support the guest’s needs.  “Surrender” is a process of communication and touch that promotes self awareness while offering the guest  an experience that is therapeutic and regenerative.  A ‘whole body’ approach, the program carries the potential of gently shifting perception . With a better understanding of their ‘essential self’ guests usually become more proactive in their well being. The goal of “Surrender” is connection – connection with oneself and the environment we inhabit.

How can spas on a  smaller scale incorporate a program such as this?
In developing a program like “Surrender”,  training, expertise and intent are the single most important elements.  Smaller properties are ideally suited for such an approach.  They are more likely to cater to a local client base and be in a position to cultivate ongoing relationships .  Having said that, as a large resort catering mostly to out of town guests,  Montage has been very successful in attracting repeat clients who recognize the value of this highly individualized approach.

Can you define ASTECC’s definition of ” art and science of spa practice” and how this approach plays into the council’s training?
The science is the foundation. It’s an understanding of anatomy and physiology and the body’s specific response to specific stimuli. The art, on the other hand, is the application of this knowledge. It is the spirit in which services are performed, a willingness to be of service and  to acknowledge the fundamental human need to be touched.  Communicated with compassion, intention, and grace, it is the gift that brings meaning to our work.

What makes  ASTECC different from others? Why do you think Spas should adopt this approach?
ASTECC speaks to spa’s therapeutic potential.  Integrative in its approach the training provides the practitioner with the skills to asses and determine an appropriate course of action.

Education naturally introduces a new level of service. Therapists who know  how to connect the the therapeutic dots discover a new level of meaning to their work.  And so do the guests. This element of ‘added value” ( “ They really helped me with my sinus problems at XYZ Spa”) is what  attracts and retains both a loyal clientele and serious minded practitioners. I recently spoke at a trade show and my audience was made up mostly of spa management. I asked them to describe in a word or two the spa experience and the words ‘pampering’ and ‘indulgent” were heard over and over again. We must do better than that. We must learn how to use the tools of our craft if we hope to prosper. Education is the key. It will open the door to the future.

ASTECC provides extensive, integrative training in four major disciplines, hydrotherapy, soft tissue therapies, Dr. Vooder’s MLD and Bio Chemical Elements – how did you come to select these four sections?
As a premise, let me say  it is important that we view the body as a whole.  We are a 70% water body in which approximately 50 trillion cells abide.  The life of each cell is dependent on the efficient delivery system of nutrients and the removal of waste.  And this, in effect, is the primary focus  of ASTECC training.

In Hydrotherapy we teach that “Blood is the River of Life” and its constant flow (circulation) is vital for health and well being. Water is the greatest conductor of energy  and Hydrotherapy is the most powerful tool in manipulating circulation.

In the soft tissue therapies, we address our internal linking system – that which connects from the derm to the core.  Often referred to as an  ‘organelle’ , loose connective tissue is the body’s life support system through which everything must pass.  With specific touch we can elicit reflex actions via the dermis through the loose connective tissue to the organs by using pathways which share the same root nerve derivative.

Manual Lymph Drainage – Decongestive, analgesic, restorative and anti -inlammatory, MLD removes congested substances from the loose connective tissue. MLD encourages and promotes  a healthy reflow system, reducing the distance between the cells and blood.  MLD has a remarkable effect on the ANS (autonomic nervous system) inducing deep calm, restoring sleep patterns, aiding with digestive disturbances and dozens of other lifestyle and stress related conditions.

In commenting on  Chemical Elements I’m compelled to quote one of my teachers, Bernard Jensen: “We are composed of the same chemical elements as the dust of the earth, the ocean and even the dust of the stars”.  The focus of Chemical Elements is learning how to identify and apply the nutritional elements that replenish and support body and mind. Essential to our wellbeing, we  find them in  seaweed, muds,  botanicals, food  and other natural elements. Our dependency on these elements remind us of our essential connection with the world we inhabit.

What challenges, if any, do you see the spa and wellness industry facing in the future?
In so many ways the Aspen Global Summit  spoke eloquently to the many challenges we are facing. Several of the speakers talked  about the degradation of our environment and therein may lie our most challenging and profound opportunity. At ASTECC we teach that it is the environment of the cell that provides for life.  In turn, it is the environment of the earth that provides a home for us.  We, as a health industry,  have a responsibility to shape and articulate internal and external “environmental consciousness”. The healthier we are, the more empowered we are.  This is a goal worth committing to.  We must dare to become who we really are.

What are your goals going forward and what are you most proud of accomplishing over the last five years?
My goal has always been to do the work I truly love.  I stand on the shoulders of my students and my clients. They have taught me so much.  They are the ones realizing the promise  of spa and laying the groundwork for the next generation. I am also indebted to the properties I work with – especially Montage – who has done a remarkable job of demonstrating “the true potential” of Spa Therapies.

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Spa Industry News Briefs

Ladies-only wellness chain opens in Valencia

Total Woman Gym and Day Spa, the ladies-only wellness chain, has opened its newest site in Valencia, California. The new 12,000-square-foot gym and membership day spa will offer facials, massage, body wraps and beauty treatments. The gym will offer cardio and strength-training equipment, as well as group classes and a Pilates studio.

Westin Xian introduces new Heavenly Spa by Westin, inspired by the seven Pillars of Wellness

The Westin Xian will launch the new Heavenly Spa by Westin, a slice of “wellness and luxury in historic Xian.” The spa will feature a modern holistic approach to wellness with a special menu of renewing spa treatments, products and healthy cuisine exclusive to the area. Inspired by the seven Pillars of Wellness, the 2,500-square-meter space will include a state-of-the-art fitness facility,  an indoor swimming pool and seven “spa within a spa” private treatment rooms.

Trump Tower Manila skyscraper to be completed by 2016 with a spa in the “intermediary skygarden”

Construction has begun on the brand new 58-story Trump Tower Manila skyscraper, which is set to become one of the tallest buildings in the Philippines upon completion in 2016. The hotel will feature a “intermediary skygarden” on the 30th floor, which will house the spa containing treatment rooms, a lounge, sauna and steam rooms, whirlpool and infinity lap pool. The other lifestyle facilities will include a gym, juice bar, beauty salon and a fine dining restaurant.

NFL launches wellness program

The National Football League recently announced its plan to launch a comprehensive wellness program for current and retired players – including a confidential mental health phone line. The program, NFL Total Wellness, plans to empower players to make positive health decisions, promote help-seeking behaviors, provide education and enhance transitioning for players adjusting to new stages of life.

Other Industry News

Fergus Stewart, new regional GM for InterContinental Hotels Group Vietnam & Cambodia

Jan Goessing appointed Area VP And GM of Mandarin Oriental

Cancun Palace and Vallarta Palace to reflag as Hard Rock Hotels

I SPA set to open two new spas and launch “I SPA life” brand

Gran Hotel Bahia del Duque opens first spa by L’Occitane in Santa Cruz de Tenerife

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Last Call for 2012 SpaFinder® Wellness Readers’ Choice Awards

It’s that time again! The SpaFinder® Wellness Readers’ Choice Awards voting is in full swing, and this year we’ve even added new Local Awards so clients can vote for their favorite day spas, fitness studios, health clubs, instructors, weight loss programs and more. From now until August 31, voting is open for the Local Awards, as well as old favorite categories: Crystal Awards, Country Awards and Category Awards, allowing clients to vote for their favorite resort/hotel spa and wellness destinations from around the globe.

We’ve crafted a Readers’ Choice Awards Online Toolkit to help our partners promote their businesses and generate more votes.  Here you will find logos to put on your own websites and email signatures to direct your clients to the voting page. You will also find examples of how other spas are utilizing email marketing and social media in order to inform their clients of the Readers’ Choice Awards.

We’ve even included some social media suggestions of our own, as well as a flyer you can print out and hand to your clients when they are leaving to encourage them to “Share the Love” and vote for you.

Lots of spa and wellness locations are already utilizing the badges and social media  to encourage their clients to cast their ballots. Hiatus Spa + Retreat in Austin, Texas, took to Facebook to announce the local awards and to inspire its fans to vote for them. Kelly’s Spa at the Mission Inn in Riverside, California, urged followers on Twitter to enter its name in the Romance Spa Category.

Have a large client email base? Why not use some email marketing? Mirbeau Inn & Spa in Skaneateles, New York, sent out a newsletter to its clients. Create an email blast to your customers with information about how they can vote for your location in the 2012 Readers’ Choice Awards, too!

However you chose to spread the word, SpaFinder Wellness wishes all of our partners the best of luck in this year’s Readers’ Choice Awards.

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Hotel, Spa & Tourism Industry Addresses Global Water Crisis

Hotel Water, The Water CampaignThere’s an interesting initiative that brings together the hotels and resorts of the world in one globally important effort: To address water conservation and the global water crisis.

Sonu Shivdasani, CEO of Six Senses Hotels and Resorts and chairman of Soneva Fushi Resorts, has created Hotel Water, an industry-wide campaign for clean drinking water. The campaign asks hotels to stop importing bottled water to reduce food miles and the use of plastic, and instead, bottle their own water using reusable glass bottles, adding minerals at the source.

“If we sell our own water in reusable bottles and donate 10 percent of proceeds, we can help the world’s water crisis,” Shivdasani explained passionately at the Global Spa and Wellness Summit this year in Aspen, Colorado. “Our industry can solve this problem if we get behind it. As hoteliers, spas and restaurateurs, we’re often the last to get on the socially responsible and environmentally conscious bandwagon.”

Sonu Shivdasani, CEO Six Senses Shivdasani went on to list facts on how joining a cause like this can improve a company’s image among consumers as water issues are the number-one cause consumers expect companies to support.

The hotel and spa business is one sector that has the potential, Shivdasani emphasized, with big names like Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, The Peninsula Hong Kong, Westin Hotels & Resorts, Vail Resorts, Hilton, Marriott, Kimpton Hotels, Protea Hotels, The St. Regis New York and more already participating. To show just how big of an impact the hotel and spa industry can have, Shivdasani took the top 10 hotel chains and broke down the numbers if those were to join in the cause:

  • Top 10 hotels = 4.3 million hotel rooms
  • $6 average/1 bottle of water per room per night = 9.6 billion in sales
  • 10 percent of $9.6 billion in sales = $955 million to donate

“It is said that it will take $5-$10 billion dollars to solve the water crisis – it is definitely in our grasp,” Shivdasani said. “We’re not incurring costs – we’ve noticed our cost of sales go down 2%-3%. Even if you give 10 percent to charity, you’re still financially better off. The sooner you join, the better – it will give the whole industry a big boost and will be better for all of us.”

Interested in learning more about Hotel Water? Here’s what to do:

  1. Become a member of the “water” global multi-media campaign with a minimal licensing fee
  2. Replace commercially branded bottled water with filtered tap water
  3. Sell it and contribute 10 percent of the proceeds to the Clean Water Fund

Visit for more information.

And, we’re looking to spotlight spa partners that are doing good in our new consumer blog franchise, Good Karma. We’ll take one company a month and showcase its philanthropic efforts, allowing guests to feel even better about visiting your spa. Email with information.

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