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European Spa invites industry leaders to share their operational tips and spa business expertise
Wellbeing Expertise

We ask Aromatherapy Associates’ chief executive officer Tracey Woodward how the brand’s new power panel of Wellbeing Experts aims to nurture life balance, support self-belief and encourage healthy living for its clients

What inspired you to create your Wellbeing Experts panel?
We launched Wellbeing Experts because there was a space that needed to be filled. Everybody wants wellness and solutions to 21st-century living.

As a brand, consumers turn to us in good times for the performance of our products, but also in challenging times when they are sleep deprived, lacking energy or just not motivated. Therefore, we wanted to provide a knowledge base to meet their needs.

Who are your experts and how will they work?
Our goal is to focus not just on how people feel, but also how they think. Using experts in change, we want to offer support to customers of the businesses we supply and also to their staff, through workshops, events and social media.

Our power panel will work across five categories: De-stress – fitness, health and mindfulness coach Nicola Addison; Support – inspirational expert Janet Tarasofsky; Inner Strength – somatic coach Jonathan Ward; Revive – health nutritionist, wellbeing and lifestyle coach Yvonne Wake; and Relax – laughter yoga coach Julie Whitehead.

How will this project benefit spa businesses?
This is about looking after the people who look after the people. I didn’t personally feel that there was anything I could do to improve the oils that Geraldine Howard and Sue Beechey created many years ago. However, I want to underpin the value of our products by offering ways to help people live better and find balance in their busy lives through education and aromatherapy. I have a duty of care, not just to look after my people and our customers but to also continue with Geraldine’s legacy, building a brand that was founded on truth and kindness.



cathy ball A fine collection

Delivering the highest professional standards is a daily mission for The Calcot Collection’s spa director Cathy Ball. We find out how the launch of Calcot Spa in 2003, began her dedication to spa excellence

The practice of making everyday moments more magical resonates perfectly with the understated luxury offered at Calcot. Situated in the Cotswolds, UK, this award-winning boutique 35-bedroom country house hotel is the flagship of The Calcot Collection, offering a celebrated blend of family-friendly hospitality, sublime spaces for celebration and dining, and, of course, perfect spa relaxation.

Thanks to much hard work, the brand’s initial investment provided the foundation for two award-winning spas, the development of an experienced 75-strong spa team and an exciting spin-off in the shape of the Calcot Manor amenities, now available in Tesco.

We find out how the drive to deliver the very best spa services is all in a day's work for spa director Cathy Ball.

How do spa services contribute to the overall success of The Calcot Collection?
Since opening in 2003, Calcot Spa has made a significant impact on both the occupancy and room rate. In fact, when we have had to close parts of the spa for refurbishment we have seen a meaningful drop off in both. Being able to offer an excellent spa is not just a great PR story. Calcot Spa really is our flagship and it contributes a healthy profit margin into the business through its £2 million turnover. It also has very little seasonality, since only 37% of our treatment revenue is driven from hotel guests, so we can counter weaker periods of hotel occupancy.

How would you sum up your role?
A spa needs the right level of expertise in fitness, treatments and customer service. We also work hard to add ‘magic moments’ to the guest experience. My key role is to maximise the contribution the spa makes to the overall business, without compromising this experience. I also spot opportunities to keep us current in our offer and track where the industry is moving. Importantly, I have a responsibility to develop our team and I hope they will share my pride and pleasure at working in the environment that we share with our guests. I believe that as managers we should let people make mistakes and learn from them, and we should train and then trust our teams to do the right thing.

What is the secret to a successful team?
Trust in – and loyalty to – your senior team allows open and honest discussion. Let people learn for themselves, even if that means making mistakes. Also, it is important to create a clear career path so incoming staff can see what their opportunities are.




Sammy Gharieni Pathways to success

Dorothy Purdew, OBE, the entrepreneurial force behind the iconic Champneys brand, believes spas need to do much more to support and encourage the professional aspirations of their staff

The UK spa industry has never really invested in the continual professional development of its spa staff and this leaves us now in a difficult situation. Generally, spa operators are good at offering basic training, but they don’t tend to pursue this at a deeper level, so how can we expect our therapists to improve, learn new techniques or contribute towards the success of our businesses?

Many of the leading professional product houses deliver excellent training programmes, so young therapists will be taught how to perform massages and facials at college, but then are left without further ‘up-training’. Often, they won’t even be observed after their initial training, so there is no one to tell them if they are not standing in the optimal position to deliver a massage effectively, or that they’re more at risk of RSI or postural issues as a consequence.

I personally feel that spa operators should take more active responsibility for their therapists’ progression and wellbeing. One way to do this would be to offer more in-house training, using senior therapists to train and mentor junior members of the team. This would put us in a better position to monitor wider issues that are really important to spas, but that product houses aren’t particularly bothered about, such as time-keeping, aftercare of guests and staff appearance.

We could adopt a similarly proactive approach to retailing. For me, successful retailing is about therapists giving effective advice. For the majority of our guests, £70 is a big investment to make in a facial, but this doesn’t mean they won’t spend more post-treatment if their experience has been excellent and some gentle advice has been given. It’s the opposite of a ‘hard sell’ and our therapists are kind and intuitive professionals who have a great depth of knowledge to impart, they just need guiding as to how to do it the right way.




Sammy Gharieni A holistic vision

Sue Harmsworth, MBE, has established ESPA as a world leader in spa design, management, operations and product development. We find out what drives her brand vision

Chairman and founder of ESPA International, Sue Harmsworth, MBE, has undoubtedly helped to shape the global spa industry as we know it today.

A pioneering developer of holistic and natural beauty products in the 1990s, she has always worked to lead the market in spa design, management and innovation.

European Spa asks the dynamic industry leader more about her path to success.

How did ESPA begin – was there a light bulb moment or the realisation of a dream?
There was a light bulb moment, but ESPA was the result of all my experiences since I started my career, way before the spa industry existed. In the 1970s I had a successful day spa in Toronto, where I learnt about anatomy and physiology, from a medical holistic perspective, from my eastern European therapists. Later, I came back to France to manage thalassotherapy centres, where I learnt about marine actives and partnered with clinical aromatherapists. I then ran Grayshott health spa, in the UK, in the early 1980s with a team of doctors and nurses. It was a totally holistic approach. After that I worked with cruise ships, transitioning them from hair and beauty concessions to spas. With 11,000 therapists on 120 ships, it taught me valuable lessons about the importance of high standards.

My ‘light bulb moment’ was really when I saw the opportunity to bring all this expertise together. I wanted a compact range with marine ingredients, clinical aromatherapy, naturals and essences that was unisex and really luxurious. The range debuted under the Turnberry label in Scotland. It was a huge success and I knew I had got it right. I kept the ownership and intellectual property and subsequently went on to launch ESPA.

What were the brand’s founding principles?
The founding principles follow a very holistic approach. Our original strap line was ‘mind body and spirit’. Everything we do has to have integrity, a relationship, a reason.

What makes ESPA such a strong pioneer?
Globally, we have very few competitors who do what we do. There are loads of product houses, management companies and many more spa consultants – every person who leaves a spa suddenly becomes a consultant. It’s a real problem for the industry. What I truly believe is that the integration and synergy of all of our specialisms makes us different and keeps us way ahead of the market. We manufacture, so when we launch a new product or treatment, it generally comes from the spa operations or training team. Our teams are connected and I look at what’s needed, asking what therapists need and want. Most of our treatments and products are needs-led.




Sammy GharieniOne day can change your whole life

Belgin Aksoy discusses her drive to create a better world and the origins of Global Wellness Day

The concept of Global Wellness Day came into being during a typically busy working day at my office. We were focusing on new destination spa projects when a whole new set of questions suddenly came into my mind.

Seven billion people live on this Earth and despite their stunning diversity, dozens of different countries and cultures actually have one single dream in common: to live a better life. We have special occasions dedicated to everything that we value in life – Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Earth Day – so why don’t we have a globally recognised day dedicated to living well?

At that very moment, I experienced a personal awakening. Within my mind, the first seeds for Global Wellness Day were sown. Three years ago, here in Turkey, we began to celebrate the world’s first day dedicated to living well. I am very happy to say that this movement has since attracted a great deal of attention around the world and has earned its ‘Global’ prefix, now being supported in 52 countries across five continents.

Global Wellness Day is an entirely not-for-profit social project without any commercial purpose and all activities carried out under its banner are free of charge and open to the public. Celebrated on the second Saturday in June (June 13 in 2015), our goal on this day is simply to create awareness and motivation to ensure that people make changes that will have an impact on their wellbeing on the other 364 days of the year.

Spas can play an important role in building a better future for global wellness. Everything we do to improve and enhance our spa offering is very important, but ultimately there is a single, invaluable investment that must be made, and that is in ourselves. Therefore, to sow the seeds of our message on an individual level and help it blossom on a wider scale, Global Wellness Day is encouraging everyone to adopt the following seven simple lifestyle goals: drink more water; shop locally and eat organically; walk for an hour each day; stop using plastic; do a good deed; eat dinner with your family; and go to bed at 10pm. These simple steps can set us on the road to wellness.




Sammy GharieniKnowing your numbers

Beauty Business Experts’ Fran Hayter explains why a firm grasp of the figures is essential for successful spa businesses

It's vitally important for spas to understand how well their business is performing on a day-to-day basis, yet so many don’t know if they are covering their costs until their accountant lets them know at the end of the year. And that may well be
too late!

There are so many ways you can focus on driving the business, but fundamentally it’s all about planning and establishing some key metrics. Once these are set then make sure your whole team is informed, as communication is critical in every
good business.

All the spas I’ve worked with directly have created a ‘business planner’. Each week we fill in the key metrics and then read what the information tells us about the business and what actions we need to take.

Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, every spa should know their break-even number. This is what revenue needs to come in to cover payroll, stock, rents and rates, as well as all other costs. You need to make sure that this number is covered weekly – the rest is then profit. Once this target is established, you can then set some weekly sales goals based on the financial trends of the year. These goals can be divided among your staff and you should let each individual know what’s expected of them. Train and help each individual recognise the need to recommend products and other services.

Also, you should aways share your goals with your team and excite them about trying to hit the targets. It’s so much easier when your staff are engaged and work as a team towards achieving the same goals. Consider sharing profit with your team – the more profit that’s made together, the more everyone will then focus on driving sales, reducing costs and ultimately bettering your business.




Sammy GharieniThe science of scent therapy

Nicola Elliott, founder of Neom Organics, talks to European Spa about her successful brand

Neom Organics’ mood-enhancing wellbeing products already have a strong retail and online presence with partners including John Lewis, Selfridges and Heals.

A popular spa retail choice, the brand now has its sights firmly set on the development and launch of a range of wellbeing treatments.

“A couple of years ago we looked at the brand and asked ourselves ‘what did we start this for?’,” recalls Neom’s creative director and founder Nicola Elliott. “Fundamentally we are a wellbeing brand and we wanted much more than to just have pretty boxes in retail settings. So treatments became an important part of our wellbeing story.”

The brand has a retail presence throughout Europe thanks to its partnership with Four Seasons hotels in France, Switzerland and Portugal. “Neom Organics is well received in Germany and Scandinavia as they are in tune with our wellbeing concepts,” says Elliott.

With a hotel amenities range in the pipeline, Neom also recently launched its own concept store in London’s Wimbledon Village to showcase its products and treatments to a targeted local audience.

Elliott says the treatments have proved a resounding success and this concept could provide the blueprint for possible expansion, but for 2015 the main strategy is UK consolidation. “Spas are crying out for something new,” she reasons. “People want something fresh and we are reflecting a real need.”




Sammy GharieniLove your feet

B-line’s pioneering founder Annette Foley-Craigen tells European Spa about the launch of Foot Smoothie, a new express treatment with impressive results

With a background in theatre and acting, B-line Health & Beauty’s vivacious founder and managing director, Annette Foley-Craigen, took the plunge to launch her own independent beauty company, back in 1989.

Since then, the brand has built up a firm reputation for its niche, holistic foot treatments and extensive range of naturally formulated products, available through a growing portfolio of spas, salons and podiatrists.

Based at Harrowby Hall in Lincolnshire, UK, the company’s spa treatment repertoire has recently grown with the launch of Foot Smoothie, created for time-poor guests who demand results.

What inspired you to set up your own, independent beauty company?
Feet are my absolute passion. In my previous career as an actress, I would always focus on developing every character from the feet up. When I looked at the possibility of starting B-Line many years ago, I felt there were no comprehensive foot treatments on offer, so I decided to develop a holistic line of treatments
and products.

How did B-Line develop as a spa brand?
Our first big customer was Ragdale Hall Health Hydro and 25 years later they are still using our products and treatments, along with others on an international client list and a growing portfolio of spas and salons in the UK. We have always focused on foot health but our treatments also complement other professional nail services and demand is growing for excellent, comprehensive holistic foot treatments, as an essential spa service.

What inspired your Foot Smoothie treatment?
We already offer two distinctive spa pedicure treatments, namely Essential and Soul Essential, but Foot Smoothie answers the growing demand for a fast, dramatic treatment with immediately visible results. It takes just 20 minutes, but is luxurious, enjoyable and cost-effective. It’s perfect for spa guests who wish to get rid of hard, dry skin and cracked heels, immediately.




Sammy GharieniThe human touch when needed most

People with cancer should be given access to massage, writes therapy specialist John Holman

It was George Bernard Shaw who said: “All progress depends on the unreasonable man” and the pioneering oncologist Dr Carl Simonton was one such fellow. What he suggested in the early 1970s was considered almost heretical for a traditionally trained doctor; namely, that patients diagnosed and being treated for cancer could be helped better by combining orthodox science with a holistic mind-body approach that included massage, meditation and positive thinking.

Now considered one of the true pioneers in cancer treatment, Simonton followed this approach from 1978 until his death in 2009 and not only was he honoured by the American Medical Association, but he also co-authored two books which are now considered standard texts for those studying oncology in the US.

Dr Simonton stated that while there is “no contraindication to good quality therapeutic massage for people with cancer; there is always a contraindication to poor therapeutic massage.” This sentiment was reinforced by one of the foremost oncologists of the modern era, Professor Karol Sikora, who in the forward of Patricia McNamara’s 1994 book Massage for People with Cancer, wrote that it “challenges the concept that massage is always contraindicated because of the contention that it might cause tumour cells to break off and spread. There really is no evidence for this contention.”

And yet, here we are today, still concerned about massage and cancer some 37 years after Simonton’s groundbreaking work began and 21 years after Sikora’s contention of risk was made clear. Unfortunately, our profession – not to mention many of the industry’s insurance providers – choose on the whole to remain in this state of needless confusion about massage and cancer, despite the evidence all around them.




Sammy GharieniTotal immersion

Created by Valérie Corcias and Dominique Kelly, the mycoocoon wellbeing concept can provide an innovative wellness space combining colour, light and sound

Organic light energy of different shades has long been said to help rebalance and reharmonise the body. This makes mycoocoon, an ‘immersive colour experience’ tailored to each user’s physical and emotional needs, ideal for use in spa relaxation areas.

Powered by a multi-sensory app, mycoocoon uses chromotherapy, aromatherapy and sound to engage the senses, drawing on ancient wisdom from Egypt, India and China, where colour has been used to aid the healing process for centuries.

From a concept by Valérie Corcias and Dominique Kelly, mycoocoon’s pod and wall design came courtesy of a collaboration between Francesca Lanzavecchia and Hunn Wai of Lanzavecchia+Wai, with a relaxation bed by Paris-based designer Marine Peyre. We asked Corcias and Kelly how mycoocoon works in a spa setting.

What can mycoocoon add to spas?
We have a range of ideas from different colour light fixtures that project no harmful frequencies, to an entire mycoocoon immersion room which can be installed in an existing room. For spas in development, we can integrate our concept into the architecture, so an entire room becomes a coocoon.

Why is colour immersion important?
Modern city living is stressful. People are competing against time in high-pressure environments with no space to switch off. We all unconsciously associate colours with certain emotions, be they blue skies or orange sunsets, and mycoocoon injects that association with nature into urban living. Colour light immersion helps you slow down, rebalance, re-energise, reflect and de-stress, gently bringing your emotions and senses back into focus.




Sammy GharieniA clean advantage

On-premises laundries offer spas a flexible and cost-efficient way to control their laundry costs while extending the life of their textiles. European Spa asks the experts how

The daily laundry requirements of any spa entail significant cost and organisation, with every individual guest using a robe and personal towels, and treatments adding more to the mix. However, establishing an on-site laundry system can bring a wide range of economic and environmental benefits. To find out what considerations must be made before taking such a step, we spoke to Barbara Cooke, founder of luxury textiles supplier BC Softwear; Peter Marsh, managing director of laundry equipment manufacturer Girbau UK; and Keith Girling, CEO of laundry care products company Sparenity.

What are the benefits of on-premises laundry?
Peter Marsh (PM): An on-premises laundry (OPL) gives you total operational control and cost savings of between 20% and 60%. You are also no longer dependent on a supplier’s delivery timings or quality standards, and it gives you the freedom to choose personalised products for your spa.

Barbara Cooke (BC): The return on investment can be very quick, so there is a definite financial benefit. There are also advantages to being in control of your own stock, with faster turnarounds for washing and drying, so less stock is required.

Keith Girling (KG): The time taken for laundering is reduced as transport off site is eliminated, which also reduces the environmental impact. An OPL can also open up a possible additional revenue stream, if laundering services are offered to clients.

What operational factors should be considered?
BC: Mainly, the size and location of the laundry, and the staff required to load and unload machines. Allowing for future growth is also important.

PM: The labour to run a successful OPL is surprisingly modest and staff do not need specialist skills. Space is a consideration, but you don’t need a large space. An out-building can be used, or even a purpose-built, semi-permanent building that won’t need planning permission.

KG: Some degree of training is necessary to achieve a smooth running laundry. We provide comprehensive product and COSHH training, so that our products are used safely and effectively.




Sammy GharieniThrough the grapevine

Founder of Caudalie, Mathilde Thomas talks to European Spa about the brand’s pioneering vinotherapy products and spas, and its new range of face masks

The unique antioxidant powers of vine, stem and grapeseed extracts were first revealed to Mathilde Thomas by Professor Joseph Vercauteren, an expert in polyphenols, in 1993. The pair met on Thomas’s family-owned Château Smith Haut Lafitte vineyard in Bordeaux, France, and two years later, along with her husband Bertrand, she founded Caudalie.

The ethically run vinotherapy brand now partners with prestigious spas right across Europe and North America and has recently launched its own line of urban boutique spas. Caudalie’s distinct treatments include Crushed Cabernet Scrub, Pulp Friction Massage, Honey and Wine Body Wrap, Barrel Bath and the Vinosource Facial which utilises not only extracts, but also fresh grapes.

The company remains true to its roots, investing in ongoing research to develop products at its own laboratories, based in Saint Jean de Braye and Montpellier, France. We asked Mathilde about the brand’s origins and what it can offer its spa partners.

What makes Caudalie special compared to other vinotherapy brands?
Caudalie’s philosophy is to have a small number of spas which combine innovative, sensorial and natural approaches with our patented Vinothérapie Spa concept. We have spas all around the world, which are renowned for their individuality and exceptional quality, including Les Sources de Caudalie in Bordeaux, The Yeatman in Porto, and l’And Vineyards in Montemor-o-Novo, Portugal.

Why should spas partner with Caudalie?
Caudalie Vinothérapie Spas are world-renowned destinations where clients can discover the stimulating, restorative benefits of the vine. A Caudalie Vinothérapie Spa has real resonance in terms of treatments, quality, and luxury.

What’s next for the Caudalie brand?
We continue to develop our boutique spas, which offer customers the high quality of Caudalie treatments and a truly sensorial experience in the heart of cities around the world. We recently opened locations in Malaysia and Brazil. This year we will launch a collection of four masks that combine the power of active ingredients extracted from the vine with highly indulgent textures, so that time out for a face mask will become a glamorous and relaxing ritual, both for the skin and the mind.




Sammy GharieniSources of Joy

European Spa talks to Sophie Benge and Alla Sokolova about their spa journey 
from the Baltic to the Black Sea, detailed in the new book Healing Sources

A plush, coffee-table book that travels to the very heart of wellbeing, Healing Sources is a journey through the rich and varied wellness cultures of 12 European countries from the Baltic to the Black Sea. We asked author Sophie Benge and researcher Alla Sokolova about their European healing odyssey.

How did Healing Sources come together?
Sophie Benge: It started as an idea between Alla and myself when we were cycling along the beach in Jurmala, Latvia, where Alla lives. My passion for indigenous healing cultures combined well with Alla’s knowledge of the health traditions of this part of the world.

What was the creative vision behind the book?
Alla Sokolova: Three main aspects guided our journey and helped us decide which locations to include. Firstly, we looked at the magnetism of their healing sources and how they have made people feel stronger and better. We also looked at their historical significance, including the famous and acclaimed people who generated stories of fashion, romance and art after being inspired by them. Finally, we looked at resort towns and spa hotels that are relevant and interesting for today’s wellness travellers, offering authentic, potent treatments.

As a result, we visited 12 countries and more than 50 spa resorts and hotels, as well as compiling a photo library of over 23,000 images and a series of short films that can be used for various wellness related content within the industry and beyond.

Can you give us a taste of what is in the book?
Sophie Benge: We had some very interesting experiences. We slept 350 metres below ground in a cavernous salt mine, where the atmosphere generates a 
high humidity and has a bacterial purity rich in micro-elements which stimulates the passage of oxygen in lung tissue. This offers relief for people with breathing conditions and the air’s purity made us ‘high’ and giggle, but it was chilly.

We also visited the Valley of the Roses in Bulgaria during harvest. It takes 3,500 kilos of dainty rose petals to distil just one kilo of rose Damascene essential oil. The oil from the petals we saw distilled goes into Chanel No.5 perfume. No wonder pure rose oil is the queen of essential oils and is so expensive.




Sammy GharieniCreating a sense of community

Wellness business consultant Anni Hood says wellness is becoming integrated into social, economic and governmental affairs, placing a new emphasis on spas to offer an authentic experience

There are a myriad of different approaches anchored to, or evolving from, the concept of wellness. In its most essential form, it is about feeling better and valuing personal growth; physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Finding wellness does not depend on age, gender, sexuality, race or beliefs. Its apolitical nature and consumer demand for wellness-based approaches mean the concept is becoming entrenched in both public and private sector thinking – it can’t not be.

The Global Wellness Institute says the value of the global wellness tourism economy grew by 13% to $494 billion between 2012 and 2013 – faster than any other tourism segment. Wellness-related travel and tourism has a multi-faceted impact both socially and economically, and its success requires a foundation of integration and inclusivity – if ever there was a ‘people’s strategy’, this is it.

There has been a vast increase in lifestyle-related physical illnesses and a broad decline in mental health, with people living longer but often more lonely lives in urban environments that exert relentless pressures. Thankfully, the concept is now prominent on more agendas and strategies right across the globe. A collaborative strategy of ‘inclusive integration’ is crucial to putting wellness at the heart of life, spas, corporations, communities, tourism and governments. It is less a change that is needed and more of an evolution; the key, as ever, is communication.

Of course, spas offer the perfect environment in which to teach and demonstrate pure wellness and the pedigree that is now demanded of them must be taken seriously – the ‘same old’ won’t do. The dawn of global wellness integration is a rebirth opportunity for the entire spa sector. There is more research, support and demand than ever before but spas must offer an authentic and effective experience. People want to feel that they are a part of something. A sense of community combined with quality delivery and results is the new baseline.




Sammy GharieniThe power to go deeper

Director of training and education at Décleor, Fiona Brackenbury talks to European Spa about the power of aromatherapy and its enduring appeal in the spa and wellness market

Aromatherapy has grown in popularity since Décleor launched over 40 years ago. As the brand expands its range of beauty oils and begins clinical trials to demonstrate the efficacy of its hero product, Aromessence Neroli Oil Serum, Fiona Brackenbury, director of training and education at Décleor, explains the enduring power of essential oils.

Why is aromatherapy effective in skincare?
Essential oils have an identical structure to hormones found in our blood, so the epidermal junction allows essential oils to pass through into the dermis, deep down in the skin, where they can really start to make a difference to the texture, appearance and behaviour of our skin. Essential oils are one of very few ingredients able to do this, which is why aromatherapy skincare is so effective.

What has changed since Décleor launched?
For 40 years Décleor’s visionary approach to beauty has made it an expert in professional aromatherapy skincare. The brand has stayed true to its original vision to create clinically proven skincare to deliver unrivalled results, using one of the most powerful ingredients in the industry; essentials oils. What was true then is still very true today.

What is unique about Décleor? We were the first to use aromatherapy in skincare. Our pioneering spirit and knowledge of incredibly powerful essential oils with clinically proven results remain at the heart of the brand today. The high concentration of active ingredients in our advanced formulations, coupled with our scientific expertise to select and blend the exact molecules we want from these potent plant ingredients, really makes us stand out from the crowd.

Our philosophy has always been to be ‘more than skin deep’ and we are still committed to an holistic approach to beauty and wellbeing. We believe in taking a look at the whole body to really help our customers, which is why our diagnostic back massage is such an integral part of our facials, there’s no better place to get a clearer understanding of what’s happening on the inside.




Sammy GharieniSustainable evolution

European Spa talks to Voya’s entrepreneurial founders Kira and Mark Walton about the brand’s success

When Voya launched in 2006, it was one of the first certified organic seaweed-based ranges on the market. Offering a customised approach to spa, the brand has since capitalised on its position and is now sold in over 36 countries around the world.

The award-winning range, founded in Sligo, Ireland, has been nurtured and expanded by founders Mark and Kira Walton, partners in life as well as business. With a growing international reputation, the brand remains a family-run enterprise committed to providing the best organic and sustainable spa products.

Voya traces its inspiration back to the heyday of the Irish bathhouse. “There were around 300 seaweed bathhouses in Ireland at the beginning of the 20th century and nine in the small town of Strandhill alone,” explains Kira Walton. “However, Hurricane Debbie hit Ireland in 1961 forcing all the baths to close and the industry declined.”

In 1996, Mark’s brother, Neil Walton revived the Irish tradition in his home town of Strandhill, opening the Voya Celtic seaweed baths. Using hand-harvested organic seaweed, the baths proved a hit with locals and the creation of a product line seemed a natural progression. Originally intended solely for use in the family-run baths, the popularity of the products sparked interest from the wider Irish spa market. Soon Voya was supplying The Bathhouse at Bellinter House and many of Ireland’s other top spa resorts.

International expansion was not part of the initial business plan, but as the reputation of the brand increased, overseas enquiries came flooding in. “Within the first year of trading we were exporting to five or six countries, just because there was a demand,” recalls Mark. Now, Voya is found in some of the world’s premier international spas and hotels including Canyon Ranch, Ritz Carlton, Waldorf Astoria and Four Seasons.




Sammy GharieniA REAL opportunity is knocking

Industry pioneer Donald B. Ardell, Ph.D reveals how an advanced wellbeing concept could transform the spa industry and those who rely on it

Panaceas, utopias and black magic are, thankfully, not much in favour these days. However, people still give too much credence to the idea that doctors, medications, treatments, miracle cures, diets and ‘game-changing’ breakthroughs can rescue them from years of mediocre or even destructive lifestyles.

Forget about it. Good health must be earned. However, the true nature of health is actually little understood and this fact, combined with a new approach to wellness promotion, presents attractive opportunities for spas.

Spas, much like medical systems in developed countries everywhere, offer many beneficial treatments for a variety of dysfunctions, concerns and stresses. Such programming is beneficial for the industry and its patrons, but educational programming for REAL wellness is creating new opportunities.

By REAL wellness I mean a concept focused on advanced states of wellbeing, not prevention or risk reduction. REAL wellness stands for the dimensions in programming for advanced states of functioning, both physically and psychologically.

The best way to pursue life, liberty and happiness is to consciously appreciate that your health depends on what you do every day. The great American orator Robert G. Ingersoll said: “Nobody should fail to pick up every jewel of joy that can be found in his path”. That is ultimately what REAL, positive health is all about – experiencing life in full, every day – and spas can show people the way.




Sammy GharieniIt's only natural

Founder of Sodashi, Megan Larsen talks to European Spa about the changing market and how the brand has been embraced in the UK at Sense Spa, Rosewood London

A pioneer in the world of natural skincare, Sodashi’s award-winning chemical-free products and treatments are found in bespoke rituals at spas around the world, including the Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris and the Landmark Oriental Hotel, Hong Kong.

With an uncompromising attitude towards the quality of its ingredients and formulations, Sodashi has benefitted from a growing demand for chemical-free skincare, reflected in its recent launch at the Sense Spa at Rosewood London.

“We are delighted to be aligning with the exquisite Sense Spa at Rosewood London,” says Sodashi’s New Zealand-born founder Megan Larsen. “It is a spa that shares our values and our passion for wellness.” Sense Spa’s zen philosophy and urban retreat concept has been complemented by treatments that are detoxifying, rejuvenating and nurturing to provide stress relief on a physical, emotional and spiritual level.

While the high-end city spa provides Sodashi with the perfect platform from which to attract new devotees, Larsen is confident that her brand offers something special in return. “With Sodashi, Rosewood London is well equipped to capitalise on the growing demand for clean beauty,” she states. “Our partnership gives Rosewood a unique offering in the UK capital.”




Sammy GharieniPerfect Balance

Master teacher and healer Yamuna Zake discusses how her concept of Body Sustainability can be integrated with different spa menus and locations

As more and more people look to wellness as a way to improve their lifestyles, spas have evolved and adapted to meet the ever-increasing knowledge base of their guests. While beauty treatments are still popular, wellness is now driving the industry forward; people want to be pampered, but they also want information and tools they can use to keep themselves healthy after they leave the spa.

Most people think their body’s needs can be satisfied through regimes of fitness, fasting or diet, but a more holistic approach is required to achieve full health. This is where the concept of Body Sustainability comes in, offering people a way to identify possible weaknesses and help them to approach their bodies intelligently. As well as helping people to avoid common fitness-related injuries, it fundamentally helps people get stronger with each decade rather than submitting to a perceived inevitable decline with age. Body Sustainability can produce new revenue streams for spas in the form of group and private classes, as well as sales of products for home use.

Almost every spa has a fitness centre and most of us already know the options available in there, but Body Sustainability offers a new category for inclusion here, one that educates guests as to how to truly improve their bodies.

If spas continue to offer the same familiar health, fitness and wellness programmes, guests will get frustrated. They want to experience and learn new things. Body Sustainability in the spa environment sends a clear message that you care about your guest’s future wellbeing. What is more, giving them new information that is useful once they leave makes them really feel they have received something special from their visit – and because the lessons work, the gift keeps on giving.




Sammy GharieniEvolution of the elements

Kristy Cimesa, founder of Elemental Herbology, discusses the potency of natural skincare, her brand’s development and its plans for expansion

A combination of experimentation, intuition, research and hard work goes into each and every product launched by Kristy Cimesa’s award-winning brand. From its beginnings as a retail collection at British cosmetics boutique Space NK, Elemental Herbology has blossomed into a world-class holistic spa line pioneering the concept of seasonal skincare. Packed with nutrients and patented natural actives, its award-winning range delivers results for the skin without compromising on sensory pleasure.

Elemental Herbology promotes a holistic approach to lifestyle and nutrition as an essential part of a good skincare regime. As a niche brand operating in a very competitive spa market, Cimesa knows the importance of creating a distinctive offering. “Because we are a small operation, we have a personalised approach to our accounts,” she reveals. “We are more flexible and can be responsive to our partners’ needs. It’s the personal relationship with all of our spas that makes us unique.”

As well as this personal touch, Elemental Herbology’s extensive product line has been formulated with patented natural actives at therapeutic levels, designed to deliver visible results. “The products speak for themselves,” says Cimesa. “We have 36 different patented technologies that are clinically tested. You would be hard pushed to find another natural brand with equal active levels of ingredients in its products.”

Looking back over the company’s evolution, Cimesa’s reflections are those of a realist and a pragmatist. “Developing brands like this costs a lot of money,” she admits. “I didn’t realise how much capital and how much hard work it would take. From the outset we made ‘green’ decisions; we focused on personal relationships, unique service and providing something different for the customer. That’s what makes Elemental Herbology special in a crowded market.”




Sammy GharieniSetting the standard

Following the recent publication of the first Guide to Hydrothermal Spa Development Standards, we spoke to its creator, Cassandra Cavanah, about the need for an industry-wide hydro-thermal resource

The recently published information resource Guide to Hydrothermal Spa Development Standards was created by the Global Spa & Wellness Summit (GSWS) to help owners and architects make informed decisions about their hydrothermal spa choices. Designed to be the primary reference source when considering the construction of either a public or private hydrothermal space, the guide includes information on global terminology and definitions of hydrothermal areas. Covering everything from project planning to key building considerations, as well as recommendations on both standards and materials, it was created in collaboration with a wide range of companies from across the global hydrothermal industry.

We spoke to the guide’s creator, Cassandra Cavanah, to find out more.

How did the guide come together?
The initial idea for the guide surfaced during the 2009 GSWS in Switzerland, where it was agreed an independent standards manual – a resource to refer to when planning or building hydrothermal bathing facilities – would hugely improve the quality of these builds and benefit the spa and wellness industry as a whole. Because of its recognised leadership in spa and wellness research, GSWS was approached by a group of hydrothermal leaders to spearhead an industry-neutral research document whose best practices could benefit everyone, everywhere.

Why is such guidance needed?
The goal is for the guide to be a consistent and effective means to approach the planning and construction of these unique areas. It’s meant to be the first place people go when building a hydrothermal area and, essentially, we hope it opens a positive dialogue between all the parties that participate in these builds so they can agree on the best way to approach the construction of them. At its core, the guide is intended to help people avoid the costly mistakes that can be made in these projects – mistakes that are easily avoided and yet made far too frequently.

Are any more guides in the pipeline?
GSWS sees a huge opportunity for additional guides to help the spa and wellness industry develop consistent standards and we look forward to working with industry experts to continue the series. However, just as this first guide relied on collaboration with the industry so, too, would following guides.





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