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Global Spa Summit

Key Highlights from the 2014 Global Spa & Wellness Summit

The eighth annual Global Spa & Wellness Summit recently concluded (and to great fanfare in the press—read European Spa Magazine’s multi-page recap of the event), with over 45 nations gathering in Marrakech, Morocco, to focus on the future of the US$3.4 trillion wellness industry. Highlights of the prominent event included:

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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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2012 GSWS in Aspen Incites Innovation through Imagination from around the World

Global Spa and Wellness Summit 2012

The 2012 Global Spa and Wellness Summit wrapped up last week with a bang. Industry leaders gathered for four glorious days in beautiful Aspen, Colorado, at the world-renowned Aspen Institute to share ideas, reconnect with old friends, forge new connections and, most of all, learn new ways to innovate within the industry through the boundless limits of imagination.

As the spa and wellness industry come together as one throughout the world, this year’s Summit, which revolved around the theme of “Innovation through Imagination,” addressed the GSWS 2012need to work together to create change, not only in the industry on a global level, but also for the good of the earth and the people. Sessions covered topics ranging from wellness gaming, the importance of health coaching and how to make technology work for you to the world’s water crisis and how hotels and spas can get involved and the globally growing obesity epidemic and national health care issues.

Between thought-provoking discussions, engaging panels, delicious food and fun-filled nights, the feedback we’ve received from attendees has been tremendous. Many have commented on the top-notch speakers who presented at the Summit (which included the likes of innovation guru John Kao; Miraval CEO Philippe Bourguignon; the 17th U.S. Surgeon General and CEO of Canyon Ranch Health Dr. Richard Carmona; spa pioneer and founder of Rancho La Puerta Deborah Szekely; former president of Costa Rica Jose Maria Figueres-Olsen; Google’s Head of Industry and Retail Ted Souder; Six Senses Hotels and Spas CEO Sonu Shivdasani; Academy-Award nominee Mariel Hemingway, and many more!) and stated that this year’s event was indeed a meeting of leaders from around the world who are open to innovation through imagination and discussion of serious global issues.

The 2012 GSWS was truly an event full of ideas, and there was a plethora of information and to-do’s to take away from it. Until next year (2013 GSWS: INDIA!), here’s to inspiration, innovation and imagination, and the courage to realize your ideas and implement them to better our industry!

GSWS 2012
Read about all of the GSWS 2012 sessions here – more will be uploaded shortly! See below for specific posts.

2012 Global Spa & Wellness Summit Kicks Off with Cocktail Reception at the St. Regis Aspen Resort

Keynote speaker, Philippe Bourguignon ponders whether we should try to understand the world? Or re-imagine it?

Colorado Governor, John Hickenlooper, Addresses GSWS

Ted Souder Gives Tips on How to Make Technology Work for You

Shelley Berc and Alejandro Fogel Present an Experiential Session on Jump Starting Your Creativity

Jose Maria Figueres-Olsen: Global Business at the Forefront of the Low Carbon Economy

Dr. Richard Carmona Speaks on the Pursuit of Global Health & Wellness: The Value Proposition of the Future

Student Challenge, Part 1: Cornell & Univ. of Houston Present Two New Spa Concepts

Student Challenge Part 2: Penn State & University of Denver Present Two Innovative Spas

Sanus Per Aquam…for All: Imagination Is for the Voice of the Daring

A Chat with Mariel Hemingway & Susie Ellis

Aspen Health Innovation Project Panel: What Would Most Transform Health Care? And How Does Spa/Wellness Best Fit In?

Dr. Elissa Epel on Telomeres, the Next Wellness Frontier

Innovation Guru John Kao Jams at Summit – Using Jazz, He Not Only Demystified Innovation – He Showed How to Practically Get it Done

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Recap: Global Spa Summit 2011

By, Lisa M. Starr, Guest Editor

I’ve been in the spa industry for over 30 years, and for most of that time, we never had to consider what was happening with spas in other countries.  But one of the wonderful developments in the new global economy is that spa brands stretch across borders, and clients do too!  This is one of the reasons that the Global Spa Summit has become such an important annual event; 250 leaders and visionaries in spa and wellness from around the world meet for three days to discuss both the challenges and opportunities currently facing the spa industry.  While there are different regulations and culture issues that will continue to affect the way service is delivered from one country to another, it is certainly helpful if we all share the same visions and dreams about what our industry can become, and our role in society today.


The 5th annual Summit was held last month in Bali, Indonesia, and there were several major themes that emerged.  I think the most meaningful and important trend is the continued merging of spas and wellness, as evidenced by the numbers of physicians and medical professionals who were present.  If spas want to continue to grow their clientele, we have to reach them on a deeper level; receiving a facial or massage is certainly enjoyable, but providing the education platform for clients to try new approaches and make changes in their habits and lifestyle that will have a lasting effect on their health and wellbeing, both physical and mental, is really where the industry is going.  One of the main forces behind this movement are the out-of-control costs of healthcare, especially in the US, and if spas can influence people to make subtle but effective changes in their personal care, and become more of a tool for overall wellbeing, that will have a positive effect for the economy as well as the clients.  A team of physicians, led by SpaFinder President Susie Ellis, spent the last year developing an evidence-based medicine portal which was unveiled at the Summit,  This will be a wonderful tool that will facilitate the sharing of studies and data among spas, physicians and clients who want to learn more about the lasting benefits of spa treatments.

Fortunately for us, the world is only becoming more stress-filled, as the confluence of technologies and global business models leave little down-time.  Especially for the younger generations, peer pressure and social circles drive many activities, and spas need to ensure they are providing environments that support social components of a spa visit.

Spa franchising is also a growing force, not just in the US, and there is a lot of opportunity here for strong brands with clearly defined infrastructure to grow into multi-unit chains.  But, in spite of all of the technological innovations, spas remain a place where people touch people, and we have a meaningful role to play in the lives of our current and future consumers.  If you’d like to read daily reports from the Summit presentations and breakouts, please visit my blog.

Lisa M. Starr, Community Ambassador GramercyOne; Senior Consultant Wynne Business


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Read More Portal Unveiled at Global Spa Summit

One of the highlights of the recent Global Spa Summit in Bali was the unveiling of a brand new online portal where people can find the research evidence that supports various spa and wellness therapies.  Be among the first to become acquainted with the new portal, which is expected to be a game-changer in the spa industry! 

The Evidenced-Based Medicine Portal for Spa & Wellness Therapies is the result of a collaborative effort involving Dr. Ken Pelletier and Dr. Daniel Friedland. The site is available to all for free.

You might start by exploring “Yoga” as that will give you access to some fairly easy-to-understand studies…and then you can take it from there.  It’s all about transparency – not every therapy has a tremendous amount of research evidence on it just yet.  In addition, some therapies are actually “not recommended” as in “Ear Candling.”  Have fun exploring the databases and becoming among the most knowledgeable in the industry. 

While the site resides currently on the Global Spa Summit website, in the future it will be seen on its own at, as well as on other company’s websites including SpaFinder.  It will also be possible for any spa who wishes to link to it from their website.

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Spa Insider: Global Spa Summit is Bali Bound

The Global Spa Summit is scheduled for May 15-18, in Bali, Indonesia, and we want you to feel part of this major industry event even if you’re not in attendance. Read all of the Summit happenings slated in the enticing 2011 Global Spa Summit Agenda; highlighting up-to-the-minute issues impacting the industry, the agenda is a true testament to the vibrancy and relevancy that has become the Summit’s trademark. (You can also download a PDF version of the 2011 Agenda.) Plus, stay in touch through our Twitter account and scroll through our dedicated Facebook page.

Stay tuned for news that will impact you, including the chance to download a PDF version of SpaFinder’s 2011 Spa Trend Report, which will be distributed at the conference.

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Global Spa Summit Update

The  comprehensive “Spas and the Global Wellness Market” study presented at the recent Global Spa Summit has numerous findings that will impact your spa’s business.  Here is one that stuck in my mind, as it suggests how spas can successfully tap into the $1.9 trillion global wellness market.

When consumers were asked what activities they are most likely to pursue to enhance wellness, the top three answers were exercise, eat better, and visit a spa. This means you should consider tying your spas marketing messages to wellness – and if you offer exercise and healthy eating programs, be sure they are at the top of your activities’ list. Read the full study here.

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