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European Spas Poised To Become Change Agents for REAL Wellness – Maybe

Geposted Reboot Wellness, Spa, Wellness Trends am Juni 9th, 2010 von Donald Ardell – 1 Comment

A recent report by Silicon Valley-based SRI International (SRI) for the European spa industry entitled, “Spas and the Global Wellness Market,” forecasts a worldwide wellness industry “poised to cross the $2 trillion mark.” SRI describes a booming wellness industry and urges spa leaders to “seize the day” – to jump on the bandwagon. Wellness is termed “an integrated industry cluster with nine core segments.

To what extend do these core segments of what SRE sees as the spa industry’s “integrated cluster” comport with, reflect or otherwise encompass what those of us who favor a quality of life-oriented form of wellness call REAL wellness. Does it fit with a philosophy of wellness that is founded on reason, exuberance, athleticism and liberty – the REAL in quality of life wellness?

Let’s look at the report more closely. Let’s start with a bright side perspective and grant that most of SRI’s core segments at least resemble what wellness promoters might consider adaptable to a REAL wellness approach.

As visitors to this site know, the term wellness is currently applied so broadly, in Europe and American and elsewhere, that it cannot be a surprise that SRI would include disparate markets under the single category. For wellness promoters, there are many reasons to being enthusiastic about this internal spa industry document. Overall, it offers a golden opportunity to channel openness to wellness along what can be REAL wellness directions.

To appreciate why this is the case, look more closely at the content of the “Spas and the Global Wellness Market” reports. Begin with the trends identified
as driving the growth of the wellness market. Four that caught my attention are:

1. An aging world population.

2. The failure of conventional medical systems. Consumer, healthcare providers and governments want more cost-effective, prevention-like alternatives to the Western “sickness” model that relies too much on trying to treat medical problems and too little on preventing them.

3. Increased globalization, with consumers more aware of alternative health approaches via the Internet.

4. The influence of celebrities who address health topics.

These are trends justified by the data and trends that support greater attention and acceptance of what wellness promoters have to offer – education in how to manage a high quality life physically and mentally. Tragically, I was not mentioned as one of those celebrities described in the fourth trend! That’s bad enough but, Holy Horrors – SRI mentioned Deepak Chopra, Oprah Winfrey and Jamie Oliver. There is no justice, it seems.

Of course, this simply shows how important it is to promote a closer look at what wellness is and to define the concept in rational, evidence-based terms that relate to advanced quality of life.

The report claimed that there are “289 million active wellness consumers in the world’s top 30 industrialized nations alone.” The SRI authors acknowledge that “wellness has proved exceptionally resistant to definition,” which might explain how Oprah, Deepak and Jamie got to be leaders of the movement. They acknowledge that the wellness market has not been well researched and little or no consensus exists on key definitions and benchmarks.

For wellness promoters in Europe, this absence is fortuitous. If definitions and benchmarks had been applied to the undisciplined mix of all that is considered “wellness” by one odd group or another, the final report might not have been such an enthusiastic endorsement of this market’s potential.

To better understand how SRI came up with a figure of nearly 300 million “active” wellness consumers (who, pray, are the “inactive” or “passive” wellness consumers?), consider the categories of activity SRI placed under the wellness banner.

1. All multidimensional and holistic activities that integrate physical, mental, spiritual and social approaches.

2. All complementary and proactive treatments and modalities.

3. All approaches that seek to prevent sickness and improve overall quality of life.

4. All consumer driven initiatives that are choices, rather than medical necessities.

Interestingly, the beauty, anti-aging and fitness markets are still seen as separate and distinct from the amorphous wellness spa market. One official at the Istanbul Global Spa Summit, where the SRI report was unveiled last month, declared, “consumers already associate spas with wellness. Increasingly modern spas are expanding far beyond traditional pampering. They are integrating fitness, complementary/alternative medicines, preventive health, advanced beauty/anti-aging, and weight loss/nutrition. They are becoming key players in medical and wellness tourism.”

People want to live healthier lifestyles – but they need help to understand not so much how to do it (the facts of exercise and nutrition and the rest) but rather how to sustain good intentions to do so. SRI found, for example, that:

* 81% of consumers are more than just mildly interested in improving their personal wellness – this very much interests them.

* 82% of people who have visited spas did make changes, at least in the short term.

* Those spas that invested in new wellness initiatives profited from doing so.

* Medical tourism has proven lucrative for spas (estimated $50 billion market); wellness tourism represents a market more than twice as large ($106 billion).

It may be time for wellness promoters in Europe and elsewhere to assist spa leaders to separate the proverbial apples and oranges for spa wellness purposes. Let’s assist the industry help their clientele to appreciate the nature of REAL wellness. No harm in offering all manner of activity and programming in all the rest, but the industry might benefit from becoming the leader in the next generation of wellness education – spa visits that enhance the quality of life. Spas can do more than offer stress relief, weight loss, facial beauty enhancement, imaginary anti-aging and a pleasurable experience and a good time – though all of these are well and good. Spas can offer an environment and educational programming that leads to an outcome that, until now with the advent of the SRI report and the growth of a wellness marketplace, has never be imagined, dreamed or spoken of – helping visitors to become better human beings. That and nothing less is the promise of the highest form of wellness envisioned so far – REAL wellness.

Offering REAL wellness will be a nice complement to the anything goes mish-mash of activities under the current wellness banner and the nine core segments described by SRI. Doing so would, in my view, be more profitable for spas and more consequential to the spa-going public.

In summary, the fact that the spa industry has been encouraged and even directed to promote wellness is a good thing. The likelihood that doing so will prove highly rewarding for the industry is also a good and welcome development. The SRI report is a broad endorsement for wellness. Now the challenge is to help spa leaders understand that wellness can be all that SRI says it is – and a great deal more.

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Spa and Wellness – An Opportunity presents itself

Geposted Reboot Wellness, Spa, Wellness Trends am Juni 9th, 2010 von Donald Ardell – Be the first to comment

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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