The wellness industry is continuing to expand and become mainstream—in fact, wellness was a $1.9-trillion industry in 2010, according to the Spas and the Global Wellness Market: Synergies and Opportunities report by SRI International; another study, The Truth about Wellness, by McCann, found that consumers said they consider the following aspects to be part of wellness (in this order): physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, financial, and social. As well, our own company has evolved our brand, Spafinder Wellness 365™, to support our passion to help people live well all year round.
So that being said, we’d like to honor a few select women who are leading the pack and inspiring us on the wellness front.
Deborah Szekely, Rancho La Puerta
Deborah Szekely, who, along with her husband, Edmond, founded Rancho La Puerta, the first destination spa, has been a leader—quite possibly the leader—of wellness for 70-plus years. Proving age is nothing but a number, Deborah, who celebrated her 90th birthday more than one year ago, still lectures weekly and continues her campaign to inspire people to live healthier, more-active lifestyles.
Susie Ellis, Spafinder Wellness, Inc.®
We may be biased with our next inspiring pick, but Susie Ellis’ resume to the world of wellness speaks for itself. She began her career at the iconic Golden Door before later becoming president of Spafinder Wellness, Inc.—and is recognized as a global authority on all-things-spa-and-wellness. Among her accomplishments: chairman and CEO of the Global Spa & Wellness Summit; member of the board of the Center for Medical Tourism Research; director of Spafinder Wellness’ annual Global Spa and Wellness Trends Forecast; and author of the popular Susie’s Industry Blog.
Sheila Cluff, The Oaks at Ojai
Along with being the owner and founder of The Oaks at Ojai, Sheila Cluff is well-lauded for countless other accolades, including: “Woman of the Year” by the City of Hope Foundation; “Entrepreneur of the Year” recipient by IDEA organization for health and fitness professionals; former board member of the International Spa Association (ISPA); and winner of the ISPA Visionary Award. She is a motivational speaker, author, fitness video producer, and leader of 50-plus fitness and beauty cruises. She also teaches at least five classes per week at The Oaks at Ojai.
Jessica Brantley, Hilton Head Health
The general manager of Hilton Head Health, Jessica Brantley proves that it’s imperative to kick start a wellness lifestyle at an early age. The 30-year-old mother of three (all under the age of five) began her career at Hilton Head Health 10 years ago as an administrative assistant and moved up the ranks as fitness director, director of program development, and presently, general manager. She’s also an advocate of running, having completed multiple half marathons, 5Ks, and 10Ks. As one colleague puts it, “She is an inspiration to the Hilton Head Health staff and guests.”
Geraldine Howard, Aromatherapy Associates
Geraldine Howard, co-founder and president of Aromatherapy Associates, is inspiring in every scents, er, sense. A world-class expert in developing aromatherapy products and treatments with over 35 years’ experience, Geraldine continues to support people’s physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing through therapeutic oils despite having been diagnosed with, and defeating, cancer. She is a speaker, panelist, and writer, and the award-winning brand of oil mixes, body and skin-care products, and treatments is now found in some of the world’s finest hotels, resorts, day spas, and retail outlets, as well as a signature boutique in London.