It was a pleasure to attend
the 7th edition of the
Forum HOTel & SPA, this
past June (2014). Created
by Madam Vladi Kovanic,
and held at the Paris Four
Seasons George V Hotel,
this year’s forum was such
a great success that they
have already scheduled the 2015 event.
I was fortunate to have an opportunity to chat
with both Madam Vladi Kovanic, and their featured
guest of honor, Mr. Ingo Schweder, CEO
and Founder of both GOCO Hospitality and
Horwath HTL Health & Wellness.
G&L: It was a pleasure to attend the 2014
Forum HOTel &SPA in Paris this past summer.
You’re now preparing for the 8th Annual
Forum. Could you give us an idea what to
expect at the 2015 Forum?
VK: With the number of delegates strictly
limited to 120 people, The Forum offers each
delegate the opportunity to gain valuable
market insights, as well as a wealth of highend
networking and information sharing.
The theme for 2015 will be “Perfection”.
We expect it to be the year’s “must attend
event” for European Spa Directors and
Managers. We are inviting the top industry
specialists from all over the world.
G&L: How did you get your start in the Spa
& Wellness Industry?
VK: In Paris during the year 2000, I created
“Aqua Expo”, the first water exhibition and
water bar in France. As water is the “blue
gold” of our planet, we also note that everywhere
water brings the energy.
Aqua Expo was for me a logical way to develop
events where professionals could exchange
their knowledge in the field of wellness and
spa. Along with the current Forum HOTel &
SPA, I am also working as SPA consultant. lifestyle into their daily lives once they have
left the destination spa.
Given the new, always-on work model,
more people aren’t just stressed out, they’re
burned out. As people are looking for ways to
relax, yoga and meditation has become
increasingly popular. This trend has brought
an interest in more traditional medicine such
as TCM and Ayurveda that focus on preventative
medicine as opposed to disease treatment,
which is more common in western medicine.
Destination spas have recognized this demand
and created new programs that help guests to
reconnect with themselves and nature but also
learn new ways to relax.
Thirdly, MediSpas have innovated their
services significantly over the past five years
and are now offering a vast selection of noninvasive,
results driven treatments.
G&L: What trends do you see in wellness for
VK: Each country has its own specificity. In
Europe there is a growing focus on holistic spas
and anti-aging (the European population is
rather old). We see also development of cryotherapy,
music therapy parallel to classical spa treatment.
For me the most important phenomena in
the industry are still water and water treatments.
Evidence-based wellness is becoming more important,
i.e. consumers need to know that the treatments
and wellness programs that they are receiving
have been adequately researched and are safe
and beneficial. Wired wellness supports this trend
as people continue to track their food intake, exercise
and sleep pattern via apps; for destination spas
this means that they have access to months of valuable
data, which they can use to develop personalized
treatments and wellness programs.
Natural healing assets (e.g. healing waters)
will (re)gain popularity as evidenced by the
growing interest in CAM, Ayurveda,
Traditional Chinese Medicine and other non
invasive approaches to healing and wellness.
This fuels the demand for more thermal/mineral
spring resorts that offer not only bathing,
but a luxurious holistic wellness experience.
The increased development of semi-urban
retreats is a good example of the industry
responding to changing consumer trends.
These tend to be 20-40-60 miles out from
major cities like Beijing and New York and
present a great model for people who are
sometimes too busy to travel to remote locations
or don’t want to spend valuable time on
stressful air travel. GOCO Retreat Niutuo,
which we are opening at the end of 2015, is one of these examples as it is located 50km
outside of Beijing and provides a holistic wellness
experience together with natural hot
G&L: Is it an industry that can be profitable
in Europe and worldwide?
VK: Yes, and I think it can be highly profitable
– if you hire good spa experts and invest
properly. It is also important to mentor members
of the spa teams to succeed and optimize
IS: Yes, the industry can be profitable across the
world. I have seen a tremendous growth in wellness
tourism over the past years globally; it
already represents a US$439 billion market (14%
of world tourism expenditures) and is predicted
to grow by 9 percent annually through 2017, 50
percent faster than “regular” tourism (SRI
Recent research published by SRI
International (2014) has shown that Europe
leads the way based on spa revenues with $29.8
billion, but Asia still dominates with the highest
number of spas. Europe still enjoys a healthy
growth by 62% but emerging markets such as
MENA (134%) and Africa (186%) are predicted
to show the highest growth.
G&L: At the 2014 Forum, there were presentations
on the role the industry can play in the
“exchange in humanity”. Can you discuss
how Spas can play a role in humanity, including
corporate social responsibility?
VK: We are going back to about 500BC with
the Greeks and Romans, where the spa is not
only a place where guests entrust their body to
therapist and relax, but also where they can go
for healing nutrition and a cocoon for their soul.
I am member of CEWF, where in past 5
years we have provided over 90,000 hospital
patients with about 185,000 beauty treatments.
With these treatments we give
patients hope in beating various diseases. Spas
can give guests a positive mindset; we simply
need to get them there.
IS: Destination spas and wellness retreats are
usually located in remote areas and therefore
have the opportunity to add value to and
enhance the community that they exist in.
Companies can do this through a selection of
activities such as creating jobs within the spa,
developing employees through training programs,
supporting local producers and businesses
through sourcing local building materials
and produce. But also through providing
cultural programs for guests who can learn
from and interact with the local community.
Other activities include the protection and
enhancement of the surroundings and the support
of local charities. Fundamentally, destination
spas can impact the health and life of
their communities through educating their
employees but also through extending services
to their families such as a weekly free visit
to a health clinic in the retreat.
Gaming & Leisure Magazine would like to
thank both Madam Vladi Kovanic and Mr.
Ingo Schweder for their participation in this
discussion. We would also like to invite spa
specialists to join the Forum HOTel & SPA on
May 28, 2015 in Paris.
Based in Bali, Bill Healey has been consulting,
installing, and supporting solutions in the global
golf and leisure industry since 1982. He has
been involved with over 1,000 systems installations
in 40+ countries from North America to
Africa to Asia and Australia.