Buxton Spa Conference

This inaugural meeting proved to be one of the most uplifting and exciting forums I’ve attended in recent years.

The 2 day conference in late June hosted by the University of Derby (the only UK university to offer both a 4 year BS and MS degrees in spa)was held in the ‘revitalizing’ and lovely spa town of Buxton in Derbyshire. 

University  faculty and students were joined by prominent industry mentors such as Marion Schneider of ToskanaoWorld (Germany)and colleagues from the traditional medical spa in Europe and  (who have long used the healing power of mineral waters and thermal conduction  to reduce common inflammatory conditions ) and others  from the more familiar luxury, beauty and relaxation spa model prevalent  in the US and UK.  

The forum constituted a co-joining of the two areas of the industry that I have long been promoting – health and beauty or, as I often describe it:  ‘ Beauty as a reflection of Wellness”

The  meeting was largely focused on the potential of spa education to shape the future of our industry, sustainability and the need to ascertain and document the efficacy of spa treatments.

Among  the speakers were Andrew Gibson of the Mandarin Oriental Group and Mike Wallace of the Budapest based Danubius Health Spa  which recently purchased The Buxton Crescent.  The Danubius group  intends  to restore the magnificent old spa hotel to its  former glory by and developing a  luxurious spa featuring  traditional Medical Spa elements.. 

One of my favorite talks came from a Japanese university professor who   presented on Balneotherapy.  His presentation detailed  the gravitational undercurrents  at work in the Pacific Ocean and pointed to the corresponding presence  of Japan’s wealth of  mineral hot springs (On Som).   Volatile waters equal volatile land, he explained.  

The On Som  is a popular practice in Japan.  The Japanese believe regular immersion in the On Som helps  relax and restore the body from the stresses of everyday life.

Balneotherapy  is an aspect of Spa that has been largely forgotten here in the US. Once a thriving industry the celebrated spa mineral water towns of   Palm Springs, Saratoga, Hot Springs and dozens of others are today greatly diminished as is the scientific basis and the application of Balneo therapies.

Perhaps it is time for us, as an industry, to revisit the rejuvenating and soulful wonders of healing mineral waters.

Water is the source of spa. It is a powerful therapeutic agent and it constitutes one of the more pressing concerns facing our ‘global’ industry. Our ability to gain access to mineral waters/ healthy waters  in order to provide a healing retreat may soon emerge as one of our industry’s most daunting challenges.

If spa’s therapeutic  goal is to restore the body to homeostasis, access to healthy water is essential..

Environmentalists from around the world  tell us that in the not too distant future  water will become one  of our most valuable (and expensive ) commodities .  I wonder:  Is it because our water sources are drying up? Being contaminated? Or is it because our water supplies our being bought up?

Buxton has a Spa water source – locals swear by it, declaring that it makes the best cup of tea….ever.  Located across from The Crescent and at the edge of the town’s park,  locals bring their empty containers and fill them from St Anne’s well..  

The water flows and it’s free.   

Buxton water was recently purchased by a private company and is now available worldwide.  Travel 30 miles out of Buxton and an 8oz bottle will cost you a $1.25.

So what was so exciting, so encouraging, about the Buxton meeting?  Many things: To share and experience  the enthusiasm and determination of others who aspire to spa’s healing potential., to gather around the well as a group  with a  declared intention of a realizing a  future of flowing, healing waters, and to  walk with others  as we rediscover our path home.