Attending the annual conference of the International Spa Association (ISPA) is like coming home. As a community involved with healing and health care, we come together to learn and share ideas that enhance the spa experience for you - the spagoer.
The 24th annual ISPA meeting took place last month in Las Vegas, a perennial favorite. Arrayed at the vast Mandalay Bay resort were more than 200 exhibitors of spa products, equipment, and services. Mornings were devoted to inspirational keynoters, including "godmother" Deborah Szekely, honorary chair of the Washington Spa Alliance (WSPA) and founder of both Golden Door and Rancho La Puerta.
Which is appropriate, because ISPA was "born" in Washington at Deborah's Georgetown residence back in 1990 while she served as president of the Inter-American Foundation. That's how I convinced her to keynote our first conference in 1991. (The full story is in this month's issue of ISPA Pulse magazine.)
Now, at 92, Deborah is still involved with the spa community, although her daughter and GM Roberto Arjonia manage the family-owned Rancho La Puerta in Mexico. Challenging industry leaders to revolutionize thinking about health care, she has launched Wellness Warriors, a foundation based in Washington to bring together health activists and government decision makers.
Her message: Washington needs a wellness march to demonstrate the economic and health benefits of living the spa lifestyle.
According to Washington-based Mary-Elizabeth Gifford, programs will activate Wellness Warriors throughout the nation to work with local educators and government officials. How can you get involved?
Go to www.wellnesswarriors.com
Plan to participate in the WSPA Symposium at the National Press Club on March 18th. Go online for details: www.washingtonspaalliance.com and see our report on Symposium chair Mary Bemis, who was honored by ISPA as Outstanding Contributor to the Spa Indusstry.
Having attended every annual meeting of ISPA for 24 years, and as WSPA Chairman Emeritus, I have learned from the professionals and peers from around the world about trends that are shaping the spa experience. Despite recent economic downturn, data on spa visits shows a bit of growth. Now, more than ever, we need safe places to revitalize and expand thinking for the future.
Leadership is assured by the incoming president of ISPA, Michael Tompkins, CEO of Miraval Resorts. An enthusiastic member of WSPA, Michael is busy with plans to open an outpost of the Arizona resort in New Jersey.
Listening to keynoter Blake Mycoskie relate his journey from founder of TOMS Shoes to becoming a force for sustainable giving inspired us to partner with business leaders as well as educators. And to seek ways that the Affordable Health Care Act can become part of Spa Care.