Global Spa Summit Day 2

Day 2 of the Global Spa Summit started with a keynote address from Philippe Bourguignon, Vice Chairman of Revolution Places, and CEO of Miraval.  Bourguignon painted a world for us in 2025, imagining products such as drinkable perfume, cigarettes that cure lung infections; the demise of Walmart who has moved to an all-internet platform, and the emergence of the Iranian marketplace.  Consumers will continue to trade in possessions for experiences, and will continue to be more stressed than tired.  He believes that luxury will continue to exist, but it will look different.  “Luxurious” could mean not having to worry, or making choices that make life easier for you.

Bourguignon also stressed the importance of continued authenticity, and noted that currently at Miraval, they have removed any plantings that were not indigenous, and they use employees and family in the marketing photos, instead of models.  And no photo-shopping!  He helped us all to look beyond our current operating parameters.

Next I attended a breakout session entitled “Bridging Spa & Medicine, Fitness, Nutrition & Integrative Health”.  The panel was moderated by Dr. Roberta Lee, Vice Chair of the Department of Integrative Medicine at Beth Israel Hospital’s Continuum Center for Health & Healing, one of the largest academic integrative health centers in the US.  Dr. Lee was joined by Dr. Howard Murad, CEO of Murad, and Paul Lehr, President of the Pritikin Longevity Center.

Dr. Lee kicked things off by describing the advances that have been made in Integrative Medicine.  Currently, 44 medical institutions in the U.S., or 1/3 of medical schools, are teaching some form of IM.  Beth Israel is a member of The Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine, (  At Beth Israel, the Center for Health & Healing sees 3000 patient visits/month, and has seen 39k patients in the last 10 years, with a staff of 40.  Her center is using all electronic charting and thinking of adding an integrative dermatologist and cardiologist.  For them, acupuncture has been one of the keys in aligning integrative and conventional medicine.  For more information on best practices in integrative medicine, she recommended looking into the Bravewell Collaborative.

Dr. Murad, in addition to founding the skin care company with his name in 1989, has developed and clinically proven a comprehensive approach to understanding health and aging called The Science of Water™.  This concept revolves around the decrease in intracellular water that happens as we age.  Dr. Murad is also intrigued by the idea of “total wellness,” a concept we don’t necessarily have a word for in English, and the Murad Inclusive Health Division has been created to further this concept.

Paul Lehr, President of the Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa, told the story of the beginning of the center, when Nathan Pritikin was diagnosed with advanced cardiovascular disease at age 41 and basically told to pack his bags.  Instead, he decided to work on himself, and began a regime of diet and exercise, overseen by Dr. David Lehr, Paul’s cardiologist father.  Dr. Lehr decided that it was okay for Pritikin to exercise on a treadmill, the heart is a muscle after all!  Their approach was so different they landed on Sixty Minutes, and their fame began.  The Pritikin Center put their money into funding studies to provide evidence of their results.  For example, an early study of 65 people recommended for bypass surgery showed that 5 years later, 80% of them never had the surgery after undergoing lifestyle changes learned at the Pritikin Center.  Their current program includes 40 hours of education with professionals on how to shop, cook, and go to a restaurant.   Lehr says, “Our equipment is food.”

After the panelists presentations, the conversation really got going with all of the doctors in the room weighing in.  Some of the comments:

  • Doctors are expensive and not always best for integrative issues anyway; we should try to use other professionals

  • Train massage therapists to recognize skin lesions

  • Use technology; telemedicine, Skype, electronic charts

  • Food should be healthful and taste good in hospitals, no bacon and eggs

  • Spa industry needs to put money into research; insurance companies will pay if we can provide peer reviewed evidence

  • Wellness centers need to provide more spirituality, that’s what patients need, they just don’t always know it

All in all it was a great presentation and discussion, and no one was ready to leave the room when we were summoned to lunch.

Later in the afternoon, we turned to current hot topic of social media.  Social scientist Marc Smith founded and managed the Community Technologies Group at Microsoft, and led the development of social media reporting and analysis for Telligent Systems, and gave us an idea of what is on the horizon in social computing.  There were too many revelations for me to write fast enough, but suffice it to say that if you don’t have a GPS-enabled smart phone, you’re going to be left behind on the technology front.  One of the most amusing/scary potential applications Smith related was that patients who were supposed to take health-maintenance medications, such as cholesterol drugs, could be imbedded with a chip, as would the pills, and the insurance company would know EXACTLY how well you do at actually taking your medication.  Wow, that's a bit scary.  He also painted a picture of someone ordering a third glass of wine and getting a call from their insurance company, a la big brother.

Next was convened a panel on social media, moderated by Anne McCall Wilson, VP of Spas for Fairmont Raffles Hotels & Resorts.  The panel members each focused on a particular area of social media, as follows:

Daniel Lizio-Katzen of SpaBooker – social media on the move, such as and

Kevin Turnbull, CEO of SpaFinder EMEA – harnessing the power of customer reviews

Alison Bell, Founder of Spa Ireland – using links within web sites to foster communication between multiple parties

Dr. Howard Murad – “word of web;” two way client communciatoins

Lopo Champalimaud, CEO of Wahanda – social shopping, such as Groupon.

Champalimaud also made the great point, for those who feel like they are losing control of their brands, that they never had complete control in the first place.  Brand management has always been a two-way street, but we had no way to hear the consumer side before.  The panelists each left us with a last word to consider when developing our social media strategy, and they were, in no certain order, amplification, water, aspiration, experiment, play, and mashup.