Visited Champneys Henlow Grange and the Spa Finder Europe office today. They are within about 15 minutes of one another. It was great to meet Sasha, Tina, Monica, and Jessica from the Spa Finder UK office, which opened last June. I finally got a chance to add faces to their names. Bright and energetic, they are the nucleus of the new Spa Finder Europe team along with Cassandra and Kevin, who head up the operation.
At Champneys Henlow Grange, we had lunch, experienced a moisturizing float spa treatment, and afterward had the good fortune to spend a bit of time with Stephen Purdew – who, along with his mother Dorothy, is the owner of the Champneys empire. They are developing it brilliantly….destination spas, day spas, a resort spa, various Champneys skin care and body care lines, electrical spa products, Champneys meals and nutritional supplements – and probably a few other extensions I didn’t have time to find out about.
But I just wanted to share my excitement about Champneys. They are truly destination spas, offering an outstanding program at a reasonable price. It had been more than ten years since I visited Grange – back then it was not called Champneys. And I must say I was amazed and impressed. It was busy, lunch was delicious, and it had a real English country feel. After spending time with Stephen, I am so glad that they will be expanding the brand further. There are very few people in the world today who “get it” when it comes to destination spas. Luckily for us, Dorothy (who I believe is in her mid-70s) is still alive, and her son has taken the business to another level, with his sights set on yet another level no one has seen yet.
Enjoyed day one of the spa conference I am attending here in London. The day’s focus was on innovation and implementation. We had speakers from France, the US, the UK, Switzerland, Russia, Bulgaria, and the Maldives. That’s what I like about this gathering – it is very international.
Today’s most fortuitous encounter was with Nina Tsymbal from St. Petersburg, the owner of a consulting company called Endeli Limited, who spoke on medical spas in Russia. Since I will be at the Virtuoso Winter Symposium in St. Petersburg this weekend, I was thrilled to be able to get her advice on which spas to visit while I’m there. I had been trying to get some suggestions for weeks with almost no luck. (Moscow has some renowned spas, but it seems St. Petersburg doesn’t have any of note yet.) Well, Nina invited me to experience a special medical-massage treatment at her facility, the International Medem Clinic and Hospital. And, of course, I said yes. The topics at these conferences are instructive – but Nina’s offer reminded me that the connections with other spa professionals are the real treasures.
This past week I have been preparing for a speech I will be giving in Monaco next Saturday at the Monaco Spa Congress. The title of my speech is A Spa Dialogue: Tracking perspectives in the Spa Industry. While I will be focusing on the spa dialogue between North America and Europe, I wanted to have a better understanding of what the spa industry and medical tourism was like in some areas of the world with which I am less familiar – namely Africa and South America.
Then today in the NY Times there is a prominent article about what’s happening in the Brazilian world of beauty. I have always known that Brazilian women were some of the most beautiful in the world (they win a lot of contests) and that their society is very body conscious. Someone once told me that having plastic surgery is sort of a “badge of honor” there and that people proudly wear their surgical bandages for others to see.
In today’s article they highlighted this obsession with beauty perfection and the fact that there seems to be a shift in standards. Instead of a more plump and rounded guitar-shaped figure being popular, the tall and thin Gisele Bundchen-like figure is “in”. That has resulted in Brazil becoming the country that swallows the most diet pills and is now exhibiting the sad results of anorexia. Apparently Miss Brazil 2001 admitted to having had 23 cosmetic procedures before winning the crown. Wow – and that was a long time ago.
This all gives me mixed feelings. On the one hand I am looking forward to spending some time in Monaco where there will be a large French contingency. The French, of course, are known to be quite confident with their natural beauty. On the other hand I think, hmmmm those Brazilian plastic surgeons have certainly had a lot of practice….
I wonder how I will feel when I return.
On Friday night, the segment on spas for babies ran on Nightline. You can watch the piece here. I thought that the cutest parts were the mention of Baby Chakra Chi and the babies playing in the noodles.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the piece, which you can share by clicking the “Comments” link below.