I spent over a year working with co-chairs Andrew Gibson and Mani Burger and the team here in our NY office on the many details needed to put together the 2013 Global Spa and Wellness Summit in India. By all accounts it was quite a success and my favorite phrase came from Liz Terry who wrote in an email, “it was a triumph.”
A year earlier we had decided on the theme “A Defining Moment” sensing that having His Holiness the Dalai Lama with us might provide the right setting for such a happening. Now that several months have passed since the actual event, I have had time to reflect on the personal defining moments for me at this very inspirational Summit.
When Peter Greenberg (CBS News) and Jean-Claude Baumgarten (former head of WTTC) did their keynote dialogue on the first morning of the Summit, I realized that what I hoped would happen by the end of the Summit – people understanding wellness tourism – had in fact already happened. People outside of our spa and wellness industry “get” wellness tourism quickly. Insiders like us are often slower to grasp the importance of this exciting development – probably because we get bogged down debating definitions. I decided to continue trumpeting wellness tourism with even greater enthusiasm than before!
When I walked into the Global Destination Spa Forum, I was surprised – and thrilled to see it was standing room only! Not only are people who have destination spas seeing the benefit of coming together to share what they know as “keepers of wellness wisdom,” but there are a lot of people in our industry interested in learning more about the destination spa experience. I decided to champion destination spas getting together more than ever!
Listening to the panelists during the Global Hot Springs Forum and learning that there are almost as many hot springs around the world as there are spas (with revenues rivaling the entire spa industry!) I realized that aggregating this sector is one of the most exciting new opportunities in our industry. I decided to make galvanizing this sector a priority for 2014!
Each of the key Summit staff organizers had a “shadow” this year…a student who was at our side throughout the event to help with whatever might come up. My “shadow” taught me something very important – it isn’t always necessary for students to go through a spa management program to be a good fit for our industry. Her major was tourism. I changed my mind and decided to begin putting more emphasis on adding spa management classes to existing curriculums rather than encouraging the development of a four year spa management program at universities. Hospitality, tourism, massage, aesthetics, fitness, nutrition, business – they are all great avenues to careers in spa and wellness.
When the small group of hydro-thermal manufacturers met during their Forum at the Summit and concluded that asking the GSWS to create a best practices manual because none of them were able to do this on their own (for credibility issues), I realized…this is a perfect example of “Joining Together. Shaping the Future.” It’s now on our agenda!
When I realized that His Holiness the Dalai Lama as well as Swamiji used the term “mind” very often and hardly ever used the term “spiritual,” I realized that being moved spiritually can happen without explicitly using the term or even trying to do something spiritually. I decided that this might be a good model for our spas and wellness retreats. We can leave it out…and yet it will be in.
And finally one of the sweetest defining moments happened after the Summit when my husband who had been cautioning me for 16 months about doing a Summit in India said, “You were right – this turned out to be the best Summit ever.” I recognized how grateful I am for our 29 years of marriage – and decided that continuing to trust my gut – despite occasional headwinds – was a good idea.