Capital Region's Spa Community Forms Washington Spa Alliance

Washington Spa Alliance (WSPA) has been formed as a Capital District regional resource for the spa community and for those whose interests dovetail with WSPA’s tenets of wellbeing and sustainability. The mission of WSPA is to act as a knowledge center, connecting spa professionals within the nation's greater capital region while raising awareness of the robust spa community here. WSPA will promote the exchange of education and innovation in the field, and work to ensure that the highest ideals of spa are met through policy and action.

WSPA recognizes that the greater spa industry’s pioneering efforts encompass a unique inter-disciplinary approach to fitness, travel, alternative and preventive medicine, and a connection to nature, as well as sustainable practices ranging from economics to agriculture. WSPA’s role will be to serve as a catalyst for discussion and action that will build coalition among individuals and organizations with complementary vision.

Spearheaded by a steering committee of spa industry veterans, WSPA’s founding board consists of the following:

  • Deborah Szekely, Founder, Rancho La Puerta and The Golden Door (Honorary Chair)
  • Mary Bemis, Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Organic Spa Magazine
  • Bernard Burt, Author, Editor, Founder of
  • Laurie Dietter, Director of Communications Design, Glen Ivy Hot Springs
  • Mary Gendron, President, Middleton & Gendron, Inc. Brand Communications
  • Mary-Elizabeth Gifford, Senior Advisor, Island Outpost
  • Ada Polla, President & CEO, Alchimie Forever

“The time is right for a Washington Spa Alliance,” said the honorary chair Deborah Szekely at a launch event held today at The Jefferson, Washington, D.C. Szekely lived in Georgetown and headed a Federal Agency, the Inter-American Foundation which pioneered in micro-financing as a development tool. “This is a singular time in our nation's history when Washington is looking closely at how our country can be healthier.” She added, “Americans increasingly have turned to spas to learn about the importance of diet and exercise, the benefits of organic plant-based diets, to re-define ideas of beauty and well-being, and to learn techniques of stress-reduction, and preventive medicine.”

Szekely, 88, founded North America’s first fitness spa, Rancho La Puerta, in June 1940, 70 years ago this month. The International Spa Association has estimated the size of the American spa industry at more than $12 billion per annum and ISPA’s research has determined that Americans make about 160 million spa visits a year. WSPA will hold an annual symposium as well as ongoing news-maker events, share best practices, and engage in advocacy, Szekely said. “We look forward to serving as a resource to our peers in the region and to creating strategic alliances with organizations everywhere whose mission mirrors or overlaps with the spa community.”

WSPA’s First Annual Symposium will be held at the National Press Club on March 24, 2011. Regional members of the spa and related communities may join WSPA for the following annual dues: Individual Member — $75; Corporate Member — $150 (1-5 employees); or $300 (5 or more employees). For membership or additional information, contact: Washington National Spa Alliance, 1010 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W., Suite 201, Washington, D.C. 20007; 202.530.3931; [email protected];