The final day of the Summit arrives, and it’s always a surprise that it’s almost over. So much to learn, so many people to meet, and not enough time to fit it all in! Breakfast meetings before the 9 a.m. conference programming starts, networking lunches, Kaffee conversations going until past 11 each night, and yet still more to do, giving the last day a sense of urgency. And of course, the previous evening’s gala dinner had the entire delegation up even later than usual. Although I couldn’t attend every single presentation, here is an encapsulation of what I did catch (click here for roundups of Days One and Two and the Gala).
Day Three opened with the finals of the student competition. This year’s “Shark Tank of Wellness” theme was a revised approach to the annual contest; instead of coming up with a spa concept, the students were challenged with devising a new and innovative idea for use in the broader wellness industry. Over 60 submissions were received, and the three finalists presented their ideas to the judges’ panel on the first day, with the winner being announced onstage on the last morning. The judging panel included Simon Casson of Four Seasons, Sheila McCann of Chiva-Som, Tracey Chappell of ESPA, Frank Pitsikalis of ResortSuite, Jane Iredale of Iredale Mineral Cosmetics and Frank Strobel of Klafs. The winner, Shahrin Ali of North South University in Bangladesh, was unable to attend in person, but her idea for a sustainable sanitary napkin addressed something that is actually a huge issue in the developing world, and she received the $5,000 top prize.
Economics is not often a humorous topic, but Oxford Professor Jan-Emmanuel De Neve gave an entertaining session on the Economics of Happiness and Wellbeing. Needless to say, the positive effects of happiness on society and culture are far-reaching and indisputable. Yes, money is important, but happy employees demonstrate high performance standards, and improve employee recruitment, motivation and retention for their companies.
Another Oxford man, the highly regarded Professor Gerry Bodeker, chatted onstage with Susie Ellis on the topic of Mental Wellness; The Far Horizons. Bodeker maintains that future efforts on managing mental wellness will encompass physical and nutritional approaches, as well as mental. CG Funk shared a personal “passion moment,” telling the story of taking the last year off from work to “slow down, and notice the moments.” Belgin Aksoy shared a wonderful video, shot on Global Wellness Day earlier this year, showcasing how the event has taken hold across the world. Economist Thierry Malleret gave a brief talk entitled Macro Economic Changes Underway Affecting Wellness; less humorous than our earlier economics lesson, Malleret pointed out that paradoxically, “un-wellness” is rising. The double threat of a still uneven global economic situation and the fact that hyper-connected societies take a toll on personal health will force countries to make wellness an “obligatory option,” in his opinion.
Ellis came on stage to announce that the previous nights’ auction had raised $108k, which will go towards additional research for GWI. Four of the chairs of the 16 GWI Initiatives gave brief updates on their progress; Jean-Guy de Gabriac of the Career Development Initiative announced their new app, Don Genders of the Hydrothermal Initiative introduced an updated edition of the Guide to Hydrothermal Spa Development (available on the GWI website), and Julie Bach of Wellness for Cancer updated the group on her global progress in training spas to properly handle guests who are currently or were previously in treatment for cancer.
Chair of the Wellness Communities Initiative, Mia Kyricos, accompanied by Samantha Foster and Brooke Warrick, shared photos and updates of the many wellness communities that are open or under development globally, including Serenbe in Georgia, Bedzed in the U.K., Q’in Wellness in Hainan, Avira in Malyasia, and Yamani Healing in Mexico, among others.
Global Wellness Awards were awarded to the following:
- Dr. Fikry Isaac, former VP of global health services for Johnson & Johnson, was given the “Leader in Workplace Wellness” award for his pioneering workplace wellness research
- Belgin Aksoy, founder of Global Wellness Day, took home the “Leading Woman in Wellness” award for creating this movement that has reached over 90 countries
- Balthasar Hauser, owner of Biohotel Stangl-Wirt, was given the “Leader in Sustainability” award for his innovative Tyrolean hotel
- Richard Schmitz, CEO of H/S/M Hotel and Spa Management, was honored as a “Leader in Innovation” for re-naming the iconic Baden Baden resort “Brenners Park Hotel & Spa” in 1983—adding the “and Spa” to the title and changing the face of the spa industry.
- Jeremy McCarthy, Group Director of Spa & Wellness of Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, won the first-ever Debra Simon Award for “Leader in Furthering Mental Wellness.”
After sealing up a time capsule with contributions by many of the delegation, to be opened in 10 years, it was time for the big announcement; where will the Summit be next year? Chairman Susie Ellis set off from the stage to find the flag of the next host country, from among the 45 countries represented, and it turned out to be the U.S! Future hosts Denise Bober and Amy Retay of The Breakers in Palm Beach took to the stage and expressed their excitement about being chosen as the host location for the 2017 event, which will be held from October 9-11. They were then joined on stage by the 2017 Summit Co-Chairs, Clare Martorano, Gerry Bodeker and Maggie Hsu. Champagne was poured all round, and the 2016 Summit was a wrap!—Lisa Starr