Spa Partners Blog

Partner News, Information and Inspiration

Articles by Shari Rosenberg

Join Tweet Chats for Wellness Week

To get people talking about healthy living, we have planned three Twitter Chats throughout Wellness Week™, March 19 – 25. The topics we’ve identified coincide with the original editorial content (literally, dozens of features) that we’ve developed on the Club Spa blog as well as The Pledge – 7 steps towards a healthier life.

Here’s the schedule:

Wellness Week™ Twitter Chats,  4 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Monday, March 19: How Best to De-Stress

Wednesday, March 21: Smart Eating for Mind, Body and Beauty

Friday, March 23: What Heals You – Top Treatments, Therapies and Tips

We invite you to please join the conversation!  If you haven’t already, please follow us on Twitter at @SpaFinder.  To follow and participate in each of the chats above, search and follow the hashtag #WellnessWeek.

In addition to our spa/wellness business partners, we’ve also invited members of our Wellness Week Expert Panel to chime in and answer questions. They will be logging in under their own Twitter handles, and will be the primary people to answer consumer questions.  SpaFinder will be the moderator of the chats, doing our best to ensure all questions are answered.

We’ll get the ball rolling on each conversation by either posing a question right off the bat in our first welcome tweet during the chat, or we can ask for questions from participants, and they should start flowing in.  We can, of course, answer or chime in on anything we’d like as well – because of the nature of Twitter, it’s okay if people jump around, or an answer comes in a few minutes after the question was asked. If it seems to die down a bit, we keep the convo going by posing a question ourselves, or calling for questions perhaps on a more specific topic within the overarching theme of the chat.

In promotion of the tweet chats, we will make sure to mention which experts are participating as well.  And if you tweet it, we’ll make sure to retweet!

Talk to you soon, we hope!

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Join Tweet Chats for Wellness Week

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Medical Tourism: An Expert Explains Healthcare Globalization Basics

What is medical tourism?

Medical tourism, at its simplest, is when people leave their country for another in pursuit of healthcare, whether a quest for faster treatments, for the sake of time-sensitive health issues, or for considerably cheaper state-of-the-art treatments, for the sake of their wallets, when some common surgeries and hospital stays in the U.S. can run in the tens of thousands.

Ruben Toral, founder of MedeGuide, an online international doctor directory featuring over 3,000 doctors in 10 countries, and former director of JCI-accredited Bumrungrad International Hospital in Thailand, a pioneer in medical tourism, spoke to SpaFinder staff earlier this month.  Toral’s affiliated hospital in Thailand operates similar to and is said to have the feel of a five-star hotel: Accommodations are more hotel-like than hospital-like, food options and boutiques within the facility are broad and international in scope and the overall atmosphere is more serene than frenetic, complemented by first-class medical care and service.

Toral says, for a time, the U.S. was the central medical tourism destination for Latin America, with institutions for superlative cancer care, like Johns Hopkins, the Mayo Clinic and Memorial Sloane Kettering.  In the wake of 9/11, both the U.S. and Europe placed visa restrictions on many travelers from the Middle East, thereby creating a shift that opened up other countries as hubs for medical tourism.
Medical tourists are traveling for anything from chemotherapy to fertility to multiple cosmetic plastic surgeries − and at “third world prices,” Toral says.  Things like labor and malpractice are far less costly outside of the U.S., he explains, and the system is “less amorphous than the U.S.”: There is little ambiguity in costs, and medical bills are paid in cash.  Medical costs can run anywhere from 50 percent to 80 percent less expensive for comparable procedures than the U.S.

The tidal wave for Toral’s hospital, in particular, followed a story on 60 Minutes on CBS that aired in 2005 about medical tourism. The story spotlighted his hospital and a few American patients struggling with the cost of medical care.  One uninsured post-heart attack patient from Louisiana, grappling with the need for quintuple bypass surgery to live, as well as the hundred thousand-dollar plus cost, researched the hospital and found a U.S.-trained physician and had the surgery three days after his arrival in Thailand. He was able to avoid draining his life savings or finding himself unable to have the operation, essentially saving his life.

The outsourcing of healthcare, though up to an eighth of the cost for care in the U.S., is not currently embraced by U.S. insurers, national policy makers or the mainstream, despite the exploding numbers of uninsured or under-insured, Toral says. He speculates the resistance due to already built-in products and providers around U.S.-insured care, and insurers deem those who seek care abroad to be a small constituency.  On the contrary, Toral says. While the U.S. is not yet monitoring the volume or dollars spent by those who seek healthcare abroad, he is seeing the industry/market explode: In 2009, Bumrungrad, one of Southeast Asia’s largest private hospitals and founded in 1980, claims that international patients comprise about 42 percent of patient volume; about 30,000 patients a year come from North America.  Many countries are finding their specialty in the global healthcare market: Mexico for bariatric surgery, Costa Rica for dentistry, Barbados for in vitro fertilization and Brazil for plastic surgery and cancer treatment, he says.

Toral expects the globalization or outsourcing of healthcare to continue to flourish, as the U.S. no longer has a lock on quality care and Americans are paying more out-of-pocket for their healthcare than ever before. The convergence of the Internet is also a factor.  The uninsured are learning more about the alternative to outsource their healthcare and can readily find expert-trained care, many who are U.S.-educated.

Similar to medical tourism, which Toral called “a stepchild of tourism,” is wellness tourism, where visitors go abroad for comprehensive checkups, lifestyle modifications and detox programs. Patients are combining holiday and healthcare and the marketing opportunities are ripe, he says, as people are getting the message: “Come to Thailand to feel better.”  Both niches in tourism are fruitful as those who go typically stay longer and spend more than average tourists, and most importantly, they come back, Toral says.

What do you think? Will offshore medical care go mainstream and gain the acceptance of national policy makers, major insurers and employers?

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Ms. Hemingway Goes to Washington

National Wellness Week, “The Pledge” Kickoff on Capitol Hill

Advocating wellness for all, Mariel Hemingway, Academy Award®-nominated actress and national spokesperson for 2012 Wellness Week™, led SpaFinder’s kickoff event in Washington, D.C., last week in the company of congressional leaders and wellness advocates.

On Capitol Hill, before more than 80 attendees, including the Washington Spa Alliance, both outside and inside-the-beltway press and national trade organizations, including National Coalition on Health Care, American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Medical Student Association, American Society of Plastic Surgeons and National Committee for Quality Assurance, Hemingway urged Americans to consider wellness their “birthright,” as she unveiled the Wellness Week Pledge, seven simple steps Americans can adopt to help them live healthier, happier lives.

Hemingway invited all attendees to join her in taking The Pledge, which comprises eating a healthy breakfast, moving more, hydrating, connecting with nature, making sleep a priority, embracing the power of touch and finding silence every day.

The Pledge is the cornerstone of Wellness Week, presented by SpaFinder, which will take place from March 19 – 25, when spas, private trainers, yoga and Pilates studios and other wellness businesses will offer guests specials from 50% off to $50 prices. Many locations will also host inspiring events led by experts, at no cost to the guest, in order to make the wellness lifestyle more accessible.

The Wellness Week Pledge

Attendees signed the Wellness Week Pledge

Asked which step was most important to her, Hemingway answered the seventh, which was “to give myself the gift of silence.” Along with her, Representatives Tom Petri (R-WI) and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), themselves “passionate” about wellness, delivered welcome remarks at event and were introduced by SpaFinder EVP Sallie Fraenkel. In addition, co-founder Dr. Daniel Friedland addressed the crowd, urging them to actively take charge of their healthcare, and consider themselves “the CEO” of their overall health.

Fraenkel, Hemingway and Dr. Friedland later met with other members of Congress, including Senator Barbara Boxer and Rep. Joe Pitts, and signed a banner with the Wellness Week pledge on it, as a way to get people on board and committed to making a difference in their health and the health of our nation.

Sallie Fraenkel from SpaFinder, Senator Barbara Boxer and Mariel Hemingway, spokesperson, Wellness Week

Sallie Fraenkel from SpaFinder, Senator Barbara Boxer and Mariel Hemingway, spokesperson, Wellness Week

It was energizing to witness how Washington is “getting it” and as Fraenkel said in her intro remarks, “This is just the beginning…”

Also in attendance:

  • Legislative staff from House and Senate including: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Senator John Kerry, Senator Kent Conrad, Senator Lisa Murkowski, Senator Michael Bennett, Representative Charlie Rangle, Representative Pat Tiberi  and House Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions
  • Media including: National Journal, Congressional Quarterly/Roll Call,  US News & World Report, The Hill, Washington Examiner, Washington Express, Washingtonian, Washington Life, Georgetown Dish,  K Street Kate, All About the Pretty (blog), All Natural Annie (blog)

See more photos on Facebook!

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Letter From the Editor

Shari_Rosenberg_SpaFinderHappy 2012!  Fresh starts, resolutions and getting healthy.  For many of us, a new year inspires an appetite for health, giving way to a season of spa and wellness. As you can see, this newsletter, as well as, has a fresh look to start the New Year. The Club Spa blog, one of the most popular spa and wellness blogs, will also debut a new look later this month.  Here are a few ideas that we hope will make this year a standout for you.

Mark Your Calendars

Wellness Week™ kicks off March 19-25, 2012.  The nationwide movement is dedicated to providing consumers an affordable way to discover and experience the wellness lifestyle. This year, SpaFinder has joined forces with celebrated actress and leading wellness advocate, Mariel Hemingway, as the national spokesperson for Wellness Week.

Our multimedia editorial is a key component in building awareness about the importance of a healthy lifestyle – and sending new business to participating spas and wellness businesses. This original content will focus on these six inspiring topics:

  • The De-Stress Guide
  • H20 Healthy
  • Zen in Zzzz’s
  • The NEW Fitness
  • Glorious Food
  • What Heals You

Plus, we have a social media campaign in store that includes contests, giveaways, original content, tips and tweet-chats with wellness experts. Let us know if you’re interested in providing prizes for social media contests leading up to and throughout Wellness Week. We also encourage you to share our wellness content on your own social media channels, blog and website.  If you aren’t already, please follow us on Twitter at @SpaFinder and use the tag #WellnessWeek for all related tweets.  We promise to follow you back!

I invite you to be part of the conversation with our wellness-seeking audience for Wellness Week and all year long by sending us your news as it relates to beauty, fitness, products, recipes, special deals, travel, trends, treatments, wellness tips, etc.

For more information on joining Wellness Week, contact Lea Crawford at (646)695-0584 or

A Tasty Opportunity

It’s no surprise that healthy spa cuisine strikes a chord with readers.  Last year we launched a new monthly email, Spa Recipes, which has been a big hit! Each month we showcase a delicious, wholesome spa recipe from one of our partners.  As part of this year’s expansion of Wellness Week, SpaFinder will be making healthy spa menus visible to the national audience.

I encourage you to send Amy Sung, our food and wellness editor, your distinctive healthy spa recipes (preferably with nutritional information), the stories surrounding them and even bios of your exceptional chefs.

In this start of a New Year, I look forward to working with you in the months ahead and urge you to take full advantage of the many editorial opportunities SpaFinder offers.  Please feel free to contact me anytime at

Be well,

Shari Rosenberg

Senior Editor

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Impressions of ISPA

By Shari Rosenberg

ISPA’s 21st annual conference was held earlier this month at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, bringing together spa professionals from around the world.  As a press attendee, and not a spa professional or product vendor, I’m able to share a big-picture snapshot.

The keynote speakers played to the conference theme “inspiring happiness,” and were, well, quite inspirational. The first speaker was Bert Jacobs, chief executive optimist for the Life is good Company, who shared his message that “optimism can take you anywhere” and the importance of giving back; he also presented the word-of-mouth marketing tactics that helped him transform his T-shirt company, which he started with $78, into a $100 million business. Jacobs was also the winner of this year’s ISPA Alex Szekely Humanitarian Award for his work with the Life is good Kids Foundation.

On day two we heard from best-selling author and futurist Faith Popcorn of the BrainReserve.   She shared some cultural and business trends, recognizing that spa is “perfectly placed at the nexus of health, reward, indulgence and pleasure.”  Popcorn identified what she called the “female revolution” that will continue over the next decade, as women are owning more businesses and “have all the money, globally” as we experience a “he-cession.”  Popcorn expressed the changing consumer desire for substance over superficiality, and how businesses must use their feminine side to embrace change. (Read her full presentation here.) Like Jacobs of Life is good, Popcorn reiterated the idea of using your power for good or “Wellness Through Community,” citing the Heifer method of sustainability and Jon Bon Jovi’s New Jersey restaurant Soul Kitchen, where patrons pay what they can through his Hope is Delicious movement.



Note: If you enjoy trends, look for SpaFinder President Susie Ellis’ Top 10 Spa Trends set to debut in early 2012.


Last up was Tony Hsieh, CEO and author of the best-selling book Delivering Happiness. He shared his ideas on developing a culture of happiness in the workplace, underscoring customer service as a focal point for a service business and how excellence can make your business stand out.  Employees at his company (often ranked high as one of the best places to work for by Forbes, CNN Money, et al.), are encouraged to be themselves, while professional, and to give back to their communities. Hsieh has seen the results of a happy workplace that creates greater productivity.

ISPA attendees can walk the floor of the convention center and get samplings of hundreds of new and noteworthy products.  Here are a few that caught my attention as an editor (and you can expect to see these covered on our Club Spa blog).

OSEA Malibu, is an organic seaweed-based product and the story of how the seaweed is harvested from the pristine Argentinian waters off of Patagonia, not used for commercial fishing intrigued me. OSEA works with a local partner in Argentina to ensure eco-responsible harvesting. The benefits of seaweed are vast, and I loved my OSEA facial I received – at first tingly, but my skin looked plump and youthful immediately after.

Though not a product, Belly Friendly is a program that focuses on a pregnancy-friendly environment and creating properly trained staff, far beyond the skills involved in pre-natal massage. Pregnant women are a sub-culture that Stacy Denney, the founder, has figured out.  (Also, look for our Q&A with Stacy in an upcoming Partner Update.)

Mineral makeup is all the rage.  Three major brands were represented at ISPA: La Bella Donna, gloMinerals and jane iredale.  The last is infused with vitamins and anti-oxidants.  It’s makeup that feeds your skin and popular for post-surgery patients.

Clarisonic was highlighting its new Opal device for the eyes. People swear by it and after sampling it, I see why.

I had a lot to share with our food & wellness editor upon my return. BodyCoffee, a body product line intrigued me because it’s as stimulating for the body as when you drink it.  Plus, it’s popular in cellulite treatments. Big name spas like Hotel Hershey, Lake Austin, Canyon Ranch and the Spa at Norwich use their product.
Teatulia is woman-owned, sustainable company that harvests tea in a single garden in Bangladesh. EVOO by Caren are skincare/bodycare products that are aloe-based and infused with extra virgin olive oil, so great for post-cancer patients whose skin gets very dry. We’re also excited to review the arugula soy candle and more from Archipelago Botanicals, which is part of the brand’s new culinary collection.

The wildly popular hair care product line Moroccan Oil introduced its move into body care, with its argan-oil based line.  We’ll be looking for it to be launched in 2012.

From our ISPA booth #224, SpaFinder was able to connect with many of our spa partners, as well as many properties who were recipients of our 2011 Readers’ Choice Awards.  Winners took photos with Mariel Hemingway, renowned actress, wellness advocate and our spokesperson for Wellness Week 2012.

Lastly, I was excited to visit some of the newest, and most talked about, Vegas spas including: Cosmopolitan, Encore, Canyon Ranch and QUA Baths at Caesars. (Look for my Vegas Spas feature on Club Spa next month.) Vegas is not just for gambling anymore, as the town is becoming quite a center for luxury and group spa experiences.

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SpaEvidence is Buzzing

Dear Spa Partners,
There’s a lot of buzz about the new website, which we want all spa professionals and consumers to see.  Here is how you can help: 
a)  Send the link to all of your clients in your next email
b)  Add a free link to your website using one of the attractive logos

(You can locate the logo in high resolution via the website under contact/resources  there is a zip file or images/logos.)

c)  Let me know which modalities/therapies you would like to see us add in our next stage where we will add at least 10 more therapies to the current list (see below). So far we have had requests for: Pilates, manual lymph drainage massage, infrared sauna and light or color therapy.  Just email me at with your requests and suggestions.

 If you want to “white label” the site, which means you put the entire thing on your website with your colors and design so that it looks like it is part of your website, please contact Kathrin Nikolussi at

d)  Thanks for helping spread the word.  I hope you are also enjoying using the site.

Best regards,


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Wellness Week™ Update! Mariel Hemingway Announced as Spokesperson

The next national Wellness Week™  will take place March 19-25, 2012, and will be backed by major sponsors, a huge PR campaign, a greatly increased advertising campaign, and a very special national spokesperson.

Mariel Hemingway, Spokesperson for Wellness WeekWe’d like you to also be among the first to know the exciting news about the national movement. SpaFinder is joining forces with celebrated actress and wellness advocate Mariel Hemingway for Wellness Week™!  This promises to elevate this event to an unprecedented level, bringing even more customers to you and more attention to our industry.

Mariel Hemingway, Spokesperson for Wellness Week
Wellness Week 2012 will bring together spas, fitness studios, yoga practitioners, Pilates studios and other wellness businesses to shine a spotlight on the wide range of wellness options available in communities across the country.  In addition to offering free classes, workshops, seminars and consultations, participating locations will also offer weeklong specials (either 50 percent off discounts or flat-rate $50 deals), providing consumers with an affordable way to experience and discover the best of the wellness lifestyle.  

Read the full press release.

Email us at to learn more.

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September’s Coming Soon: Back to Spa

When summer winds down and the bathing suits are put in the back of the drawer, it means back to school for the kids and often buckling down for grown-ups.  A couple of things are certain: People want to look rejuvenated, plus people get stressed-out quickly.  Fall conjures seasonal flavors and holidays brewing.  Here are a few simple tips on how SpaFinder can help you to leverage the flavors, feel and signs of this special time of year.


Back to Spa. With kids back to school, you can benefit more during off-peak hours. Market to women’s groups, moms and those who can benefit from a “mini-retreat” featuring your spa services.  Additionally, teens (and tweens) want to look good when they’re back to school, so you can start marketing a teen facial if you don’t already.

Awesome Autumn.  Labor Day is September 5, 2011.  Make sure you are promoting weekend getaways or day spa deals for those seeking to enjoy the last licks of summer.  In addition to your SpaFinder overview, leverage Facebook and Twitter to promote every deal you are offering.  Email us at if you have a specific Tweet you’d like us to consider for a re-Tweet! Additionally, cooler weather changes skin conditions.  Many people suffer from dehydrated skin. Take advantage of it by promoting your intensive hydrating facials. 

Pumpkin, Spices and Everything Nice.  These seasonal ingredients, including pomegranate, make for delectable treatments that spa-goers (and the media) have their eyes on. Create treatment promotions with retail products and consider featuring a Product of the Month, along with companion products.  Email our Beauty Editor Erika Allen if you have a spa product we must know about.

Flavors of Fall.  Offer up seasonal recipes – food or DIY spa-at-home remedies.  Highlight them in your e-newsletter. We invite you to share any recipes with our Food Editor Amy Sung for consideration in our Club Spa e-newsletter or dedicated Spa Recipes email.

Let’s Make a Deal.  Post your deals on your listing.  This is the tab that our users click on the most!  Take advantage.

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Peter Thomas Roth Debuts Amenity Collection at Hilton Hotels

Travel just got even more attractive for beauty-lovers. Hilton Hotels & Resorts recently debuted its new in-room bath amenities developed by the innovative and results-oriented Peter Thomas Roth Skincare line. The specially created Mega-Rich™ Hair & Body Collection (not available for retail until Fall 2011) is vitamin-infused and simply luxurious.

PTR was selected by Hilton as brand of choice among approximately 50 others. The exclusive products are expected to roll out to all 540-plus hotels and resorts in 76 countries by December 2011. Until the Mega-Rich™ retail launch, you can visit Hilton to Home to purchase − in full sizes!

The PTR products available in-room at Hilton Resorts and Hotels include Mega-Rich™ Shampoo, Conditioner, Body Lotion and Body Wash, plus a Moisture Infusion Facial Bar and Massaging Bath Bar.

We’ve noticed more and more hotel spas are opting for known names when it comes to in-room amenities, recognizing that it says something about how they convey their brand and treat guests – essentially a marketing tool. Four Seasons Maui offers L’Occitane products; Villagio Inn uses Molten Brown; and Mandarin Oriental Boston offers Aromatherapy Associates.

Does your property use a recognized product line or a proprietary product line? How do guests respond?

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