Spa and Wellness – An Opportunity presents itself

The future direction of the wellness movement depends on many factors, one of which is the vision of the European spa industry. Another might be the success wellness promoters have in helping spa leaders refine and expand that vision. A new report suggests that the industry leadership has a high regard for the potential of the wellness market. The industry report describes the nature and scope of this expansive marketplace and recommends major investments to promote wellness in Europe and throughout the world.

The spa report provides a revealing picture of what wellness enthusiasts might expect of this industry and, most important, clarifies the challenges ahead if we are to succeed in guiding spa leaders to a fuller appreciation of the best kind of wellness philosophy, lifestyle and marketplace. A prerequisite to doing so is to clearly describe the differences between the form of wellness we have embraced and how that form of wellness differs from but complements other important spa initiatives. The latter might include such areas, all noted in the new spa industry report, as primarily medical, beauty, prevention, holistic, spiritual or single focused, such as exercise and nutrition.

This commentary and one to follow describes the report and offers suggestions for spa leadership to seize upon opportunities inherent in the unique and transformative advanced wellness concept promoted by DWV as REAL wellness. The issues related to developing an awareness of and support for this, what we view as the highest, most consequential and least developed variant of the wellness philosophy, are seen as critical both for the spa industry and all who support the wellness movement in Europe and elsewhere.


In ten or twenty years time, plans and commitments being made now could prove crucial both for the spa industry and the wellness movement. One shared challenge is find best ways to attract new business for spas while while at the same time shaping the evolution of the public understanding of genuine wellness. This must be done in a manner that not only attracts a dramatically wider audience for spa offerings but also boosts quality of life for all who participate.

I want to sketch a role for spa leadership that will help shape the wellness movement for decades to come – one that I believe can be both positive and transformative for the public and profitable and energizing for the European spa industry.

There are many factors that will affect the direction and impact of the wellness movement. The role of spas in one such factor, one I believe could be paramount. Others include but are certainly not limited to the following:

* The strength of the European Union and the global economy.

* The general quality of life that most citizens in Europe and elsewhere are able to realize.

Our individual fates are in our own hands, to a considerable extent. However, no harm comes from a little humility. Thus, we might want to recognize and be grateful for our good fortunes if certain events do not come to pass. We will remain vulnerable to forces and random events beyond our control, factors that could affect our ability to remain free to live in peace and enjoy life, liberty, wellness and the pursuit of happiness. To fully enjoy what will be described as REAL wellness, we require continued social tranquility, safeguards for human health and not too many Eyjafjallajökull-like volcanic disruptive eruptions. Or other totally capricious acts by Zeus or other gods, like the asteroid visitation that ruined things for dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

But, no point worrying about possible cosmic-scale misfortunes – we have enough troubles with man-made calamities to keep us fully occupied while efforts are made to advance the best future for the spa industry, the wellness movement and the people of Europe and beyond.


The spa leadership recently offered a partial sense of the industry’s wellness vision. In late May at the 2010 Global Spa Summit (GSS) in Istanbul, Turkey, an SRI International (SRI) report was unveiled. This report identified wellness as “a vast, mainstream and very real industry with an extraordinary global ancient and modern history.” Spa leaders were urged to view the wellness concept as a philosophy that should be adopted, celebrated and promoted by spas everywhere.  This industry report represents a major endorsement of the idea that spas must develop programming for wellness education, products and services.

Wellness promoters everywhere, especially in Europe, should welcome and support this commitment.

That’s the good news.  There really isn’t any bad news but wellness promoters should now devote a great deal of attention to assisting spa industry leaders appreciate a full and progressive view about what wellness can and should be for maximum effectiveness. It is time to identify the nature of REAL wellness, separate from the sissy stuff that is woo woo, insubstantial, lacking in nutrients and unworthy of any association with the term wellness.

There are many reasons for spas to take a leadership role in REAL wellness promotion, besides the obvious fact that there is a lot of money to be made from doing so.  The latter incentive is a very good reason, but additional justification will affect the success of individual spas and the industry as a whole. The larger goals might be nothing less than revolutionary lifestyle changes for an expanded spa clientele.

I’ll write more on this topic soon, including a summary of the trends identified in the spa report, the economic and other factors that led the industry’s best minds to promote wellness as the wave of the spa industry’s best future and the nature of serious concerns about the incomplete picture of wellness reflected in the spa report, which by the way is entitled “Spas and the Global Wellness Market.”

All the best.

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