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NEWS
Sue Harmsworth: “I’m starting to hate the word wellness”
POSTED 12 May 2021 . BY Megan Whitby
Industry influencer and founder of ESPA Sue Harmsworth has spent five decades shaping the spa, global wellness and beauty industries, having designed 500+ spas in 65 countries
In the Global Wellness Institute’s (GWI) latest Q&A, spa and wellness icon Sue Harmsworth spoke to VP of research and forecasting Beth McGroarty about the trends and challenges facing the spa and wellness industry.

“I’m starting to hate the word wellness because it’s become so generic it’s utterly confusing the consumer,” she began.

In her opinion, the industry should begin differentiating between light wellness and serious wellness.

“As the spa industry took off, the word and concept of wellness became confusing, and it has to do with what the US means by it, versus the rest of the world.

“In the US, every beauty salon, or every two treatment rooms by a pool, suddenly became a spa. When the spa movement became powerful in the 90s, stress was the overwhelming focus and most spas were built for relaxation – from massages to meditation. What I would call light wellness – with no negative connotations.

“But now, we have a much more complex set of modalities and advanced practitioners at wellness destinations. Plus, we also have more medical or ‘serious’ wellness.

“So, you have light wellness, which spas and hospitality destinations have excelled at and you have medical or serious wellness, but it’s different this time around. It’s preventative, functional medicine and diagnostics.”

Ultimately, she believes the word wellness alone is too imprecise to mean anything and that spa businesses have got to focus on what their consumers want and be clear about what they’re delivering.

Integrative wellness is the future
According to Harmsworth, an integrative approach to wellness will become standard practice due to the prevalence of so many lifestyle diseases in today’s society.

“Mental and cognitive health will be huge coming out of the pandemic, with depression and anxiety having risen exponentially since COVID and now affecting a third of the population globally.

“I’m working on properties now that bring everything together: functional medicine and diagnostics, an aesthetics clinic, and all the traditional wellness, from complementary medicine to fitness to serious meditation,” she added.

In her opinion, functional medicine and diagnostics will be a huge part of this trend and are important because they provide people with tangible results.

“It seems crazy, but you really can significantly impact your blood pressure or cholesterol in one week. What I want to do is to be able to programme individuals on a personalised plan with a very full set of stats so they can see their results over time.”

Growing interest for wellness real-estate
McGroarty next touched on how the pandemic has given wellness real estate new momentum and asked Harmsworth for her thoughts on this.

“COVID has obviously woken all of us up to working from home, and this ongoing reality will drive real growth in wellness real estate and communities. Plus, lots of people are spending a lot or all of their time in their second homes.

“As a consequence, more people will choose a wellness community as their primary (or near-primary) residence.”

Harmsworth believes this demand will naturally drive more projects to be conceptualised with more affordable options.

She illustrated this by drawing on one of her current wellness real estate projects, where the most expensive villa costs US$1mn (€825,000, £708,000) while artisan homes sit at US$300,000 (€248,000, £212,300).

"Now that’s relatively affordable," she said, "it's going to be an interesting community where everything will be grown themselves and have its own Waldorf school for the kids."

She firmly champions that the way forward will be affordable and multigenerational wellness communities encompassing an entire lifestyle of wellbeing.

The need for more intensive therapist training
Harmsworth believes the spas that will thrive in future will be underpinned by exceptional flow, therapists, treatments, design and thermal areas, as well as great hardware, air quality and infection control.

However, she urged that spa therapists and practitioners are going to have to be much better trained with deeper skills because the majority of consumers that walk in now will have some kind of contraindication.

“Therapists need a much broader knowledge set to be able to deal with all the things increasingly coming their way. They’re already being bombarded with more serious issues such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, depression and grief.

“This is why I’m so strong on what we’re doing in the UK with the training ruling bodies, putting modules together so that well-qualified therapists can keep adding extra modules (whether cancer or nutrition training) so they can deliver more 'wellness' than just massages or facials; be empowered to deal with the day-to-day realities they see and be set on a career path of constant skill-upgrading.

“The spas that will take it to the next level will focus on training in a much more intensive way.”

To read the whole interview and hear Harmsworth’s views on why integrative wellness resorts will require a whole new kind of operator, visit the official GWI website later this week.
RELATED STORIES
  SpaFest confirms Sue Harmsworth as keynote for 2021 in-person event


Spa and wellness industry event SpaFest has announced industry legend Sue Harmsworth MBE will keynote its 2021 conference, hosted at five-star eco-resort, Gwel an Mor in Cornwall, UK, from 12-14 October.
  Over 220 spas register for new industry standard for cancer touch therapy, launched by Sue Harmsworth


Sue Harmsworth, industry influencer and founder of ESPA, has recently announced the launch of the Standards Authority for Touch in Cancer Care (SATCC).
  Montara Hospitality invests US$209m into Thai wellness project specialising in cognitive health


Bangkok-based developer Montara Hospitality Group (MHG) is investing THB 6,600bn (US$209m, £165m) into Asia’s upcoming largest destination and most comprehensive wellness residential community, Tri Vananda, in Phuket, Thailand.
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London’s BT Tower to become luxury hotel following £275m deal
British telecommunications company BT Group has sold its iconic BT Tower for £275 million (US$347 million, €321.3 million) to hotel management company MCR Hotels.
Luxury hotel market immune to cost of living cutbacks, reports RSM
While the UK hotel sector ended 2023 on a high, new data shows this was largely driven by the luxury market with a spike in room rates and profits – according to the RSM Hotels Tracker: Focus on Asset Classes.
As the strength training trend gathers pace, researchers highlight the benefits of keeping up the cardio
While strength training gives valuable muscular gains it doesn’t give the heart health benefits of aerobic exercise, according to new research from Iowa State University.
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NEWS
Sue Harmsworth: “I’m starting to hate the word wellness”
POSTED 12 May 2021 . BY Megan Whitby
Industry influencer and founder of ESPA Sue Harmsworth has spent five decades shaping the spa, global wellness and beauty industries, having designed 500+ spas in 65 countries
In the Global Wellness Institute’s (GWI) latest Q&A, spa and wellness icon Sue Harmsworth spoke to VP of research and forecasting Beth McGroarty about the trends and challenges facing the spa and wellness industry.

“I’m starting to hate the word wellness because it’s become so generic it’s utterly confusing the consumer,” she began.

In her opinion, the industry should begin differentiating between light wellness and serious wellness.

“As the spa industry took off, the word and concept of wellness became confusing, and it has to do with what the US means by it, versus the rest of the world.

“In the US, every beauty salon, or every two treatment rooms by a pool, suddenly became a spa. When the spa movement became powerful in the 90s, stress was the overwhelming focus and most spas were built for relaxation – from massages to meditation. What I would call light wellness – with no negative connotations.

“But now, we have a much more complex set of modalities and advanced practitioners at wellness destinations. Plus, we also have more medical or ‘serious’ wellness.

“So, you have light wellness, which spas and hospitality destinations have excelled at and you have medical or serious wellness, but it’s different this time around. It’s preventative, functional medicine and diagnostics.”

Ultimately, she believes the word wellness alone is too imprecise to mean anything and that spa businesses have got to focus on what their consumers want and be clear about what they’re delivering.

Integrative wellness is the future
According to Harmsworth, an integrative approach to wellness will become standard practice due to the prevalence of so many lifestyle diseases in today’s society.

“Mental and cognitive health will be huge coming out of the pandemic, with depression and anxiety having risen exponentially since COVID and now affecting a third of the population globally.

“I’m working on properties now that bring everything together: functional medicine and diagnostics, an aesthetics clinic, and all the traditional wellness, from complementary medicine to fitness to serious meditation,” she added.

In her opinion, functional medicine and diagnostics will be a huge part of this trend and are important because they provide people with tangible results.

“It seems crazy, but you really can significantly impact your blood pressure or cholesterol in one week. What I want to do is to be able to programme individuals on a personalised plan with a very full set of stats so they can see their results over time.”

Growing interest for wellness real-estate
McGroarty next touched on how the pandemic has given wellness real estate new momentum and asked Harmsworth for her thoughts on this.

“COVID has obviously woken all of us up to working from home, and this ongoing reality will drive real growth in wellness real estate and communities. Plus, lots of people are spending a lot or all of their time in their second homes.

“As a consequence, more people will choose a wellness community as their primary (or near-primary) residence.”

Harmsworth believes this demand will naturally drive more projects to be conceptualised with more affordable options.

She illustrated this by drawing on one of her current wellness real estate projects, where the most expensive villa costs US$1mn (€825,000, £708,000) while artisan homes sit at US$300,000 (€248,000, £212,300).

"Now that’s relatively affordable," she said, "it's going to be an interesting community where everything will be grown themselves and have its own Waldorf school for the kids."

She firmly champions that the way forward will be affordable and multigenerational wellness communities encompassing an entire lifestyle of wellbeing.

The need for more intensive therapist training
Harmsworth believes the spas that will thrive in future will be underpinned by exceptional flow, therapists, treatments, design and thermal areas, as well as great hardware, air quality and infection control.

However, she urged that spa therapists and practitioners are going to have to be much better trained with deeper skills because the majority of consumers that walk in now will have some kind of contraindication.

“Therapists need a much broader knowledge set to be able to deal with all the things increasingly coming their way. They’re already being bombarded with more serious issues such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, depression and grief.

“This is why I’m so strong on what we’re doing in the UK with the training ruling bodies, putting modules together so that well-qualified therapists can keep adding extra modules (whether cancer or nutrition training) so they can deliver more 'wellness' than just massages or facials; be empowered to deal with the day-to-day realities they see and be set on a career path of constant skill-upgrading.

“The spas that will take it to the next level will focus on training in a much more intensive way.”

To read the whole interview and hear Harmsworth’s views on why integrative wellness resorts will require a whole new kind of operator, visit the official GWI website later this week.
RELATED STORIES
SpaFest confirms Sue Harmsworth as keynote for 2021 in-person event


Spa and wellness industry event SpaFest has announced industry legend Sue Harmsworth MBE will keynote its 2021 conference, hosted at five-star eco-resort, Gwel an Mor in Cornwall, UK, from 12-14 October.
Over 220 spas register for new industry standard for cancer touch therapy, launched by Sue Harmsworth


Sue Harmsworth, industry influencer and founder of ESPA, has recently announced the launch of the Standards Authority for Touch in Cancer Care (SATCC).
Montara Hospitality invests US$209m into Thai wellness project specialising in cognitive health


Bangkok-based developer Montara Hospitality Group (MHG) is investing THB 6,600bn (US$209m, £165m) into Asia’s upcoming largest destination and most comprehensive wellness residential community, Tri Vananda, in Phuket, Thailand.
MORE NEWS
Raffles to open mountainside retreat in Neom’s Trojena project
Accor’s high-end brand Raffles Hotels & Resorts is set to land in northwestern Saudia Arabia in 2027 as part of Trojena, a brand new year-round adventure sports destination.
London’s BT Tower to become luxury hotel following £275m deal
British telecommunications company BT Group has sold its iconic BT Tower for £275 million (US$347 million, €321.3 million) to hotel management company MCR Hotels.
Luxury hotel market immune to cost of living cutbacks, reports RSM
While the UK hotel sector ended 2023 on a high, new data shows this was largely driven by the luxury market with a spike in room rates and profits – according to the RSM Hotels Tracker: Focus on Asset Classes.
As the strength training trend gathers pace, researchers highlight the benefits of keeping up the cardio
While strength training gives valuable muscular gains it doesn’t give the heart health benefits of aerobic exercise, according to new research from Iowa State University.
New brand, Lunar Health Clubs, is aiming to deliver the UK's most prestigious wellness sanctuary
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FEATURED SUPPLIERS

Countdown begins for World Spa and Wellness 2024 London
The World Spa & Wellness London Convention is back from 3-4 March at ExCeL London and is a fantastic opportunity for spa professionals to network and learn from industry leaders, with lots of chances to develop your business and career. [more...]

The art of high-end wellbeing: Iyashi Dôme, where elegance and technology collide
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Clinique La Prairie

Founded in 1931 by Professor Niehans, a pioneer in the development of cell therapy, Clinique La Prai [more...]
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CATALOGUE GALLERY
+ More catalogues  

DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

 

02-04 Mar 2024

World Spa & Wellness Conference

Excel exhibition and conference centre , London, United Kingdom
03-05 Mar 2024

IBS New York

Javits Convention Center, New York, United States
+ More diary  
 


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