The First Global Destination Spa Forum

The Global Spa & Wellness Summit (GSWS) has announced that a dedicated forum for ‘destination spas,’ defined as fully-immersive, all-inclusive spa and wellness retreats, will take place on day one of the seventh annual conference being held in New Delhi, India from October 5-7. This Global Destination Spa Forum will represent the very first time that leaders from the 1,500-plus destination spas worldwide are invited to gather to collectively strategise on how to best solve their biggest challenges and capitalise on their biggest future opportunities. 

With healthy travel, known as ‘wellness tourism’ accelerating, destination spas face a bright and complex future. The Forum promises to provide a preview of what lies ahead for the $6 billion+ spa sector.

‘Although destination spas are a smaller group than resort and day spas, they’re often the leading innovators on the wellness frontier. And this first global ‘think tank’ organized for this critical spa segment is an exciting, much-needed event,’ said Sharon Kolkka, general manager of Australia’s Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat. ‘We, the leaders of destinations spas worldwide, have much to discuss: from how to drive individual business growth; to the possibility of forging a united industry alliance to specifically advance our sector; and, more generally, wellness in the world.’

An Agenda Unique to Destination Spas: 

While destination spas and wellness retreats are becoming ever more diverse, they share a mission of providing comprehensive mind/body/spirit experiences in which all guests participate. The programming, which typically spans fitness activities, nutritious cuisine, therapeutic and beauty treatments, preventative services and wellness education classes, is specifically designed to jumpstart healthy lifestyle changes. And while destination spas represent only 2 per cent (roughly 1,500 out of 72,000) of spa properties globally, they account for a much larger percentage of industry revenues (13 per cent or $6 billion-plus USD) and employment (9 percent).*

A group of destination spa leaders met informally at the 2012 Summit in Aspen, Colorado. And this year GSWS organizers decided that this high-impact sector needed formal space on the agenda to help further an alliance and to collaboratively analyse their unique challenges and opportunities. 

‘In many ways, destination spas are the heartbeat of the industry,’ said Susie Ellis, chairman and CEO of the Global Spa and Wellness Summit. ‘Creating health transformations is their very DNA.’  

Those who are helping shape the Destination Spa Forum agenda include Roberto Arjona, chief executive and general manager of Mexico’s Rancho La Puerta and Alejandro Bataller Pineda, chief marketing officer of Spain’s Sha Wellness Clinic. Other destination spas that have already agreed to participate include Chiva Som, Thailand; COMO Shambhala, UK; Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat, Australia; Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary, Thailand; Lanserhof, Austria; Longevity Wellness Resort, Portugal and Wellbeing Escapes, UK. Top Indian destination spas that are also expected to participate include the iconic properties Ananda in the Himalayas and Soukya, and the all-new Vana, Malsi Estate. 

The Forum is sponsored by the International Health and Wellness Alliance (IHWA). This new organisation is devoted to educating the world about destination spas and wellness centres and encouraging the adoption of sustainable practices and evidence-based approaches at properties worldwide. 

To learn more about the Summit, or to register to become a delegate, visit:

About the Summit: 

The Global Spa & Wellness Summit (GSWS) is an annual event that attracts executives and leaders from around the world with an interest in the spa and wellness industries. Delegates from diverse sectors, including the hospitality, tourism, finance, medical, real estate, manufacturing, technology, consulting and product industries attend this invitation-only gathering. The Summit has been responsible for some of the most important spa industry research, including, the world’s first online portal to the medical evidence for common spa and wellness therapies. The GSWS was honored as ‘Spa Event of the Year’ for the last four years by AsiaSpa magazine’s awards program.

 * SRI International, ‘Global Spa Economy Report’  

Photo Credit: Destination Spa Amangiri

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