2014 FORUM HOTel & SPA


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.


Results-oriented 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.

Hot Springs

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.

Semi-urban retreats

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

spring bathing.

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

spa performance.

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

International, 2014).

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.


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