GSWS Day One Highlights

The Global Spa and Wellness Summit officially kicked off on Monday with a host of exciting speakers. Be sure to visit the GSWS website post-event for a comprehensive compilation of transcripts, PowerPoint presentations, and research reports. We’ll also be featuring the conference in the August issue of American Spa. But in the meantime, enjoy a few highlights from the day.

  • Phillippe Bouguignon, vice chairman of Revolution Places and CEO of Exclusive Resorts, whose keynote topic was “Understand the World or Imagine the World,” reminded us that true innovation doesn’t always involve surveying the crowd and providing them exactly what they ask for. He encouraged us to “walk while watching the moon rather than watching your shoes.”
  • Next, Dr. Richard Carmona, the 17th Surgeon General and the Vice Chairman of Canyon Ranch discussed the “Pursuit of Global Health and Wellness: The Value Proposition of the Future.” He pointed out that by tackling preventative health issues like obesity and tobacco-related issues, we could create a more healthy society that, in turn, can lead to healthier communities and stronger economic development. According to Carmona, by eliminating the economic burden placed on countries for caring for preventable disease, we can change the course of world events.
  • The inspirational John Kao, using a piano and some of the tenets of jazz, spoke about “Jamming: The Art of Getting Innovation Done.” He says that “creativity is the universal human ability to generate new ideas. Imagination is the ability to form images and sensations without reference to actual senses. Innovation changes the way things are done.” Food for thought when bringing innovation to the spa industry.
  • Ted Souder, head of industry and retail at Google, then offered some valuable insight about technology, social media, and the need for the spa industry to adapt and embrace all of the options available. He believes we have gone through a door we will never go back through, so “you can’t dip your toe in. You need to do a back flip right into it.”

The day also included a lunchtime presentation by Jose Maria Figures-Olsen, president of the Carbon War Room and the former President of Costa Rica; an interactive lunch where we broke off into table to discuss topics of importance; a roundtable discussion with members of the Aspen Institute Panel; and breakout discussions about innovation. We ended the day with an evening dine around. I headed to Cache Cache and had some wonderful discussions with my table mates, who included Michael Stusser, founder and owner of Osmosis Day Spa; Jeremy McCarthy, director of global spa development and operations for Starwood; Dr. J. Paul De Vierville, owner and director of Spa Cultures; Donna Holton of Leading Spas of Canada; Monica Risenius, COO of Resense Spa SA; and Sharon Ullrick of Leading Hotels of the World. The funniest part of the evening? A table full of steak orders with nary a fish or vegetarian meal in sight. The busy day certainly made us hungry!