It was the first day of Spring in Washington, DC. While some anxiously visit the city to await the full blooms of the Cherry Blossoms, others came to connect, engage, and deliver for another reason. This year, regional, national, and international spa industry professionals gathered at the newly renovated Watergate Hotel for a meeting of the minds at the 7th Annual Washington Spa Alliance Symposium (WSPA).
Like a recently hatched caterpillar hungry for food, symposium attendees fed and nourished their minds during the presentations from speakers and panelist, allowing them to peel off their layers and grow, with expanded knowledge at their core.
Stories of transformation and growth were told throughout the symposium. A few to highlight:
“Reflections of a Wellness Pioneer”, an inspiring video from Deborah Szekely, transported us back to the creation of Rancho La Puerta, when outdoor tents were made from World War I airplane wings, warm-up suits weren’t yet the norm for exercise, wellness was an experiment, and a sacred mountain “convinced people of their ability to change their life”.
“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?” – Deborah Szekely
Ophelia Yeung, Senior Fellow Researcher at The Global Wellness Institute, started her presentation on the Spa & Global Wellness Economy with a definition of the word wellness. Wellness, she indicated, is an English word without an equivalent translation in other languages. Yet, despite the void of a one-for-one translation, statistics show the Global Wellness Economy growth at $3.7 trillion in 2015, with categories ranging from Workplace Wellness ($43b), Spa Industry ($99b), Wellness Tourism ($563b), and Beauty & Anti-Aging ($999b) to name a few.
The Global Wellness Institute defines “Wellness” as the active pursuit of activities, choices, and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health.
Co-founder of WSPA and Symposium Chair Emeritus, Mary F. Bemis, gave a brief history lesson on the Seven Timeless Truths of Spa, and then introduced Mia Kyricos, President/CEO, Kyricos & Associates, LLC. Mia presented a “7 Timeless Truths” game plan by showing multiple trends (i.e., reading the tea leaves) for each timeless truth and offering a prediction for the future. Some predictions made: “Spas will become true champions & prescribers of nature” with rooftop gardens in urban settings, and spa services delivered outside of your typical four walls. “Spacernauts” will soon make their debut to include, spas with hourly fitness classes, cafes/juice bars, full-service spa boutiques, and hotel spas with existing local eateries.
Seven Timeless Truths of Spa: Community. Nature. Food. Fitness. Water. Quiet. Sleep.
Julia Sutton, Chief Operating Officer of Exhale Enterprises, served on the panel which discussed “Pushing the Boundary of Wellness”, her company is working on live streaming of fitness/wellness classes, while incorporating wearable technology, so that “you don’t cheat at home”.
Samer Hamadeh, CEO of Zeel, presented on “Technology: Disrupting the Status Quo”. Technology advancements with Zeel provides solutions for both customers and therapists. Customer Experience: On demand, in-home convenience, therapists verified, vetted, and insured. Provider Experience: Customers ID-checked for safety, more customers who book more often, better payout and flexible hours. A few statistics showed 22% of massages are happening after 9pm and 55% of customers want a massage within 4 hours of requesting. In some cases, a therapist can reach a customer in as little as 30min of a request. Zeel’s “massage- on-demand” has expanded beyond just the at-home customer, but also serves as a resource to brick-n-mortar spas to fill temporary staffing needs.
Rona Berg, Editor-in-Chief, Organic Spa Media Ltd., provided a consumer perspective on how to “Connect, Engage, and Deliver Sustainable Wellness” through the interconnectedness of things – mind, body, spirit, health, and nature. One slide noted alarming data that shows by 2050, there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish, according to a World Economic Forum report. Ways to help: Consume less, buy fair-trade organic, use cold water for laundry, eat grass-fed beef. One statistic showed eating organic for one week has shown a 6% decrease in pesticides in our body. The importance of bringing self-care rituals into your daily life was highlighted, and another definition of wellness was presented:
Well-Ness (noun): the state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal.
Each year, after the information shared has rested in chrysalis, these WSPA caterpillars grow into beautiful butterflies, fluttering back to their respective domains to make their mark by connecting, engaging, and delivering, until the life cycle starts all over again.
India K. Robinson, President & CEO
“Confessions of a Spa Bunny”, The H.I.S Agency, LLC
Creator and Founder of “Confessions of a Spa Bunny”, India is an active member of the International Spa Association, Wellness Warrior, and the Washington Spa Alliance. She is also a contributing author for Insider’s Guide to Spas.