Lessons from the Maldives Spa Saga

20 thoughts on “Lessons from the Maldives Spa Saga

  1. Mark A. McKenney

    Excellent points in your article Susie; you do have a holistic “world” centric point of view and the best interest of the spa industry as a whole. I am very emphatic about promoting SpaEvidence.com and will continue to tweet about it. I will be submitting some excellent therapy modalities that I have personally worked with at The Upledger Institute in South Florida.
    @MarktheSpaman
    Dallas, Texas USA

  2. Lori Hutchinson

    Susie,

    Well written and informative article! We’ve placed a spa director in the Maldives and I have been wondering about her point of view and her concern for her position and other spa professionals’ opinions on their work there for the long term if this decision repeats itself in the future. It must have been a challenging situation for all of the people serving guests who were expecting treatments during their stays while the ban was on. How sad and difficult! Bill and I Loved our visit to the Maldives and I always encourage people to travel there for a vacation in paradise. Thank you.

  3. Susie Ellis Post author

    Hi Lori,
    Thanks for your comment – I always appreciate your point of view as one of the key executive search persons in our industry, you are very aware of what is going on globally. From what I understand, the resorts in the Maldives that we are all familiar with ignored the ban and continued to offer spa services as before so my guess is that it was a short-lived event over there for them. However, as you mention, the implications are potentially troubling because it has introduced some uncertainty and as I mentioned in the blog…the news spread globally. I don’t think there is any reason for our industry to be alarmed…just vigilent and pre-emptive so this ends up being a minor footnote in our history.

  4. Kathryn Stolle

    Hi Susie,
    What a great post! I wrote my blogpost on January 3rd and was one of the ones who took a less than positive stance. I stand by what I wrote, by the way – if only because these fundamentalists are so unpredictable and because I don’t think that this was simply a tempest in a teapot – even though most probably politically motivated. http://www.gettinggreatspa.com

    The overarching factor was the power of tourism dollars in affecting the outcome. Though I love the thoughtful way you moved from surprise to advocacy and fully support your views, I reserve the right to retain a grain of scepticism regarding that part of the world. And I am NOT a religious or political conservative, by the way – maybe I just watch too many news programs from the BBC!
    Take care,
    Kathryn

  5. Jeremy McCarthy (@jeremymcc)

    Hi Susie, great article and I agree with your assessment of this whole debacle. The Maldives will bear the brunt of showing the world a different side of what we usually think of as an island utopia. But I expect the amazing destination and incredible resort properties there will attract people in spite of this mess. Hopefully their business levels are not affected for long. But the spa industry I think definitely comes out on top as the quick overturn of this poorly thought out decision solidifies the predominant view that spas are an important part of any resort destination.

  6. Nancy Nemer

    Susie,
    I am not sure what our industry would do without your voice. Your global perspective never ceases to amaze me. As we all go merrily along with our work and personal lives, you continue to approach issues that affect every person at every level in our industry and this is no exception. Your extremely eloquent and heart-felt perspective on the Maldives’ political situation is a reminder that we are all a part of a great good if we so choose to be. Thank you for your always poignant perspective that keeps us anchored to what is real in our industry….the truth about why we all ‘just do it.”

  7. Ryan Crabbe

    We don’t get too many opportunities as an industry to self advocate, do we? Thanks for being such a great evangelist and cheerleader for us all, Susie. Ryan

  8. Monica

    Thank you for sharing this story with us. Advocacy is so important, if we don’t stay on top of issues such regulations could creep up in our communities. Education is so important.

  9. Pingback: Lessons from the Maldives Spa Saga | Beyond Beauty Blog

  10. Jane Aransky Post author

    Susie:
    What a beautiful and heartfelt blog. You continue to inspire me both intellectually and professionally.
    Your blog has inspired me for many years, however, this one showed me another side of you I hadn’t realized before. I saw that you are in this for the “cause” of helping humanity through the services we offer as well as making a difference in the world and I want to thank you deeply for that.
    I receive a “billion” emails daily, but never, ever do I delete yours!
    Thanks so much for your love and support our industry and helping so many people find a little bit of peace
    in their lives.
    My best to your and your family for a happy and healthy new year.

    Jane

  11. Susie Ellis Post author

    Hi Jane,
    Thank you so much for taking the time to send such a lovely email. I really appreciate it. We truly are in a wonderful industry where we can help people and I feel very fortunate that collectively we can make a difference. I’ve often thought that the best ways to understand other people around the world is through their healing traditions. When a Turkish woman gives me a soap massage in an ancient hammam in Istanbul, it’s just much easier to picture peace in the world between people of different religions, races, etc. We really do get to touch people. Lucky us!
    Very best,
    Susie

  12. Jo Foley

    Hi Susie

    I hope you are right about the Maldives incident being over…but I fear it will only be the beginning. The Maldives is deeply Islamic but most guests do not realise this…in fact locals are not allowed to work in the bars of the resorts, and that is just one small example. Bali is again under threat and that too will affect their travel and spa industry, while Malaysia could also be affected…fortunately there do not seem to be too many spas in East Africa…but that too could cause a problem. As I say I hope you are right…and I am wrong

    yours in hope…Jo Foley

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  14. Jacqueline Clarke

    Dear Susie

    Something more than a comment, but the events in the Maldives recalled to me related issues that arose when was looking at the spa market in some countries. In different countries in the Middle East, one of which is Saudi Arabia, urban myths explain why people, that is women, can be reluctant to visit spas. One story runs that cameras are installed in the changing rooms of some department stores, and in the treatment rooms of some spas and beauty salons. Women are reportedly filmed when they are getting a body scrub, hair removal, or other service. Fears of being filmed drive the demand for spa treatments at home, and for spas that are based in the “family section/no single (men)”of malls.

    Employment. Like the Maldives (blog post notes that almost no Maldive people work in spas), in Saudi Arabia most spa employees were foreign. Mainly because spas and beauty salon work was seen as “low class” by Saudi women. This could change with the roll out of a “Saudization” quota for emploers.

    Stories about spas as a front for non-spa activities – gambling, prostitution, etc are global. In some cities in China the police can be obliged to hold a neighbourhood meeting before a salon/spa (hair, beauty, massage, foot massage) is allowed to open. The operators have to convince the people that they are a legitimate spa business.

    Fears about prostitution are widespread. In the USA when spa staff who were let go and looked to open a home spa found some resistance from neighbours worried about “fronts.” I have seen reports which suggest the up to one third of “spa” businesses investigated by the police have turned out to be fronts for prostitution, (some involved women trafficked into the USA). For the spa industry, massage is the category most affected by sleaze. Incidentally, reports about trafficking women to work in nail bars hurt the nail bar business in New York. (NOTE: it is a third of those investigated/raided, only the dubious rated for such attentions.)

    To add to the wonderful question when is a spa not a spa … In Saudi Arabia the complexity of the regulations / licenses covering women in business explain why dressmaking or tailoring businesses turns out to be a salon/spa. Regulations allow women to run a “tailoring store” but not a beauty business.

    Jacqueline Clarke

  15. Susie Ellis Post author

    Hi Jacqueline,
    Thanks so much for your input – very helpful indeed. And since I know you have been researching the beauty and spa world for quite some time, you would have more information about this topic than many others. Appreciate you took the time to share what you know about it. The Global Spa Summit research project for this year is about Spa Management Education, perhaps this topic should be addressed. I will share it with the researchers.
    Again, my thanks and wishing you all the best for 2012.
    Susie

  16. Jean-Guy de Gabriac

    Dear Susie,

    kudos for taking the time to reflect on the many implications of this ban, which in my view echoes what is happening in Egypt.
    Last week, one of my clients (who has been working since July on a feasibility study to open a Medi Spa in the heart of Cairo) saw her Gym Club trashed by a group of political activists armed with long sticks. They stormed into the club, broke the equipment and gave a beating to men and women who were training side by side, as we see every day in most parts of the world.

    Nowadays, her project is turning around completely, to remove what could be perceived as “pampering experiences” and move more into Weight management, Pain Mananagement (back & joints) and Anti-Tobacco programs, so that her project of a Health Clinic can survive after the elections…

    Promoting http://www.SpaEvidence.com is of paramount importance to show how important Spa facilities improve the Health & Wellness of millions with professional treatment and upmost care for their clients, one by one.

    PS: thanks for quoting “”…removing the spa element from a Maldivian holiday is like removing the Eiffel Tower from Paris” being French you have certainly touched a sensitive point in me ;-)

  17. tsengjudy

    Susie,
    I am not sure what our industry would do without your voice. Your global perspective never ceases to amaze me. As we all go merrily along with our work and personal lives, you continue to approach issues that affect every person at every level in our industry and this is no exception. Your extremely eloquent and heart-felt perspective on the Maldives’ political situation is a reminder that we are all a part of a great good if we so choose to be. Thank you for your always poignant perspective that keeps us anchored to what is real in our industry….the truth about why we all ‘just do it.”

  18. liz

    Hi Susie,

    You are doing a wonderful job keep up the good work. Here in St Lucia massage is very popular not just for the tourism industry, but for the all the hard working people who lives here. Massage is no longer a luxury as we use to call it, but rather part of the the medical treatments to those who are going through pain and stress in our every day lives. Spa facilities improve the Health & Wellness of millions with professional treatment. Happy to know that there is someone like you who stood up for what is right.

    5) We need to have a process to help educate prospective future spa professionals (and their parents) about the honorable position of working in this industry. (I think using the term massage therapist rather than masseuse and masseur is another small – but important step.)

    I have been waiting to hear this very important point you made in your topic about educating prospective future spa professional. From the time I become a massage therapist I refuse to let anyone calling me a masseuse, I was trained be a massage therapist or even better a massage practitioner not a masseuse.

  19. Susie Ellis Post author

    Hi Liz,
    Thanks so much for your email and I totally agree with you about the value of what we do in our industry as well as using the term massage therapist instead of masseuse and masseur. I have written about that before but it needs to be stressed continually because it helps the entire industry when we use the more accurate description of massage therapist. It’s also “uni-sex” making it easier all the way around. One issue I have run into in various parts of the world (Philippines for example) is that some of the laws that govern licensing of therapists and facilities have old language on their books and they still use the term masseur and masseuse. Hopefully in time all that language will change also.

    And finally – you will be thrilled to read this article that just happened to be in the Wall Street Journal today! “Don’t Call it Pampering: Massage wants to be Medicine.” Talk about timely…..

    Appreciate your comment and thanks for following the blog!
    Susie

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