Raffles International Hotels and Resorts, of Singapore, which acquired Swissotel in June 2001, plans to introduce expand their presence in the spa industry in 2002, beginning with the first Raffles Amrita Spa in the United States at L'Ermitage in Beverly Hills. The 2,800 sq. ft. deluxe spa is expected to open later this year.

Raffles International--Asia's largest luxury spa operator—conceived Amrita Spa as part of its unique brand development program. Amrita Spa Raffles City, Singapore is the flagship of Amrita Spas by Raffles worldwide. Seven Amrita Spas have opened since last year -- at Raffles Hotel Singapore, Hotel Le Royal in Phnom Penh, Grand Hotel d'Angkor in Siem Reap Merchant Court Hotel in Sydney, Merchant Court Hotel in Singapore, and Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten in Hamburg, in addition to Amrita Spa, Raffles City.

'We plan to open nine more Amrita Spas globally over the next 18-24 months,' said Jennie Chua, Raffles International President and Chief Operating Officer. 'With 17 spas in the Amrita Spa group, Raffles will operate one of the largest international spa networks.'

In support of its Amrita Spas expansion, Raffles also recently announced the further expansion of its SPAcademy in Singapore, a premier spa education and skills training institute. 'With SPAcademy, Raffles is poised to meet the training needs of the future, expanding its training and development capabilities beyond the traditional realm of strictly core hotel skills training, to encompass a new but fast growing segment of the hospitality industry,' said Ms. Chua.

SPAcademy by Raffles International will also offer programs on the application of holistic and spa principles to people who seek to enhance their quality of life, or to achieve wellness, balance, and vitality, and will educate on topics such as stress management techniques, applied psychology, organic living and yoga.