Considering wellness is the new “black” and “well-thy” is now a status symbol among consumers, the market for wellness cannot be considered separate from leisure and luxury; a concept that has evolved from ownership to experiences that offer convenience, choice, value, and the ability to share with others.

The growth of these markets is evident in Australians spending far more on experiences, outpacing spending on either discretionary or basic needs consumption. Over $132 billion was spent on leisure and entertainment in the year to March 2017 - an increase of $16 billion per annum over the five years since March 2012, and far more than was spent on either discretionary commodities ($107b) or groceries ($103b).

The global wellness economy is booming too, growing 12.8% in the past two years to reach a market value of $4.2 trillion4, and is expected to continue accelerating by 17% until 2025. The wellness industry now represents 5.3% of global economic output.

“Wellness, for more people, is evolving from rarely to daily, from episodic to essential, from a luxury to a dominant lifestyle value. And that profound shift is driving powerful growth.” - Katherine Johnston, senior research fellow, Global Wellness Institute

Australia’s personal spending on health has mirrored this trend, reaching $28.6 billion in 2016, with an estimated $4 billion of this spent on alternative health therapies like spas, traditional Chinese medicine, mind-body exercise and nutrition. As the publics growing embrace of alternative therapies starts to meet traditional medicine in a meaningful way, further opportunities will continue opening up.

Comparing the spa industry with the tech industry, the spa world has moved slowly to respond to cultural influences and changing customer perceptions. Despite best efforts, much of what has been passed off as innovation in the rapidly expanding spa and wellness industry has been more about clever marketing and getting attention than it has been about true innovation, causing the current day spa model to become unsustainable.

There is an opportunity for a new model of day spa, that draws on its historical roots of social bathing, where it reaches a number of consumer segments across the wellness, leisure and luxury industry clusters, so as to become a highly desirable status “hangout”.

Where ever there is a problem there is an opportunity, which is why we have been working behind the scenes to create a new model of Spa that meets the problems head on and harnesses the opportunities with both hands.

  • Current offerings for wellness remain fragmented, with most players having a limited number of centres that offer disconnected programs, amenities, and itineraries.

  • Existing larger scale models are marketed on natural resources, operating in remote areas with low accessibility for frequent use.

  • Considered a luxury and perceived as too expensive by many people, even those with strong desire.

  • Oriented at the individual - a singular, rather than social experience - and many of the emerging social trends cannot be embraced.

  • Focused on beauty and pampering rather than wellness - Current models are built on telling people, even subtly, that they aren’t good enough.

  • Appeal to a limited demographic and audience - Only 25% of day spa goers are men (usually visiting with their partner).

  • Limited to traditional business opening hours and appointment times.

  • Massage accounts for 75% of treatments booked, yet day spa model is built upon

    delivering beauty therapies, often delivering a poor experience bacause of the global shortage of quality therapists (spa/beauty therapists cannot deliver a quality remedial massage).

  • A typical day spa does not offer a enough value for a membership program and is capped according to the number of therapy rooms it has.

  • A wellness mindset is starting to permeate the global consumer consciousness, affecting people’s daily decision-making.

  • People are more willing than ever to pay for experiences that have the potential to transform the way they live, work, and play.

  • The understanding that beauty is more than “skin deep” is gradually seeping into the global consciousness.

  • Emerging trends in wellness are placing culture (the zeitgeist) at the heart of the experience.

  • Consumers crave something authentic and meaningful — an experience that is in some way transformative, resulting in the improvement of physical or emotional well- being.

  • Healthy over hangover: Consumers across the board are seeking transformational experiences, connection and community. They want to feel happy, healthy and fulfilled.

  • A growing Australian middle class presents a market opportunity to bring wellness services to an unserviced market. Millenials and younger generations are continuing to spend less money on buying things, and more on doing things.

  • Nearly 30% of the adult population is committed to green and healthy living, a market share that has almost doubled in the last four years.

  • Experience customers have come to expect a unified online and offline experience.

Research compiled by Sonja Sorich - Director of Spa Wellness Consulting and Emily King - PR Specialist

Emily King is a marketing specialist with extensive experience in the development and delivery of PR & marketing strategies, supported by strong leadership and project management. Emily has lived in the UK and Europe for five years where she discovered saunas, hammams and thermal spas as a form of relaxation while working in a very demanding role in fashion PR. She had also travelled to Japan many times and was drawn to the Onsen tradition for its relaxing, therapeutic and social benefits.

Returning to Australia in 2014 to be apart of the ‘ideas boom’, Emily has worked on the commercialisation of some of Australia’s most exciting local and international tech start-ups. Having a keen curiosity in innovative businesses, Emily brings a balance of critical thinking together with a personal interest in creative pursuits, lifestyle and culture. Well versed in trends and market opportunities, Emily brings a fresh and innovative approach to Spa Wellness projects.

Posted on February 2, 2019 .


Showcasing a collection of spa awards is a wonderful testimonial for your spa and wellness business. We researched all of the awards that pertain to our industry and share the top 4 awards below.


Spa’s operating within the luxury niche market and with high service delivery can participate. Luxury spas can self-nominate or be nominated by guests or industry experts in order to participate in the World Luxury Spa Awards™. Nominations are then evaluated by a selected global panel of independent spa consultants in 144 countries. Successful nominations are then be invited to participate in the Awards. Further to each official entry the World Luxury Spa Awards arrange an ‘official’ and/or ‘mystery’ site visit to judge the spa. 

Cost: The participation fee per spa is 430 GBP for one category and 215 GBP for every other category. Opening date for 2018 registration is 20 April 2017. 

Other: Winners in a particular year will automatically be nominated to participate the following year. Each year 20 nominated luxury spas will win a complimentary entry into the World Luxury Spa Awards. These successfully evaluated nominations will be randomly selected and will be notified once the official registration poll before the particular year has closed. 



Register your interest online and once submission is open you will receive an invitation to enter via the online portal. Submit entry well before the deadline in June. 

 Finalists will be notified and are then required to provide treatments for a Mystery Shopper and an Official Visitor free of charge. If you are entering the Spa category this may include an overnight stay in your property as well. Shortlisting and visits take place between August and November. Winners are announced in February at The World Spa & Wellness Convention, London.  



Entry to these awards is free of charge and is entered via an online portal. Your entry is then checked and vetted to ensure your nomination qualifies for the selected category. World Spa Awards makes the final decision. Call for entries is between 15 February to 15 June. Finalists are announced on 16 June. Worldwide voting is open to the public and industry professionals (which bear 5 times the weight of a public vote) from 23 June to 13 October. The awards are announced at the annual World Travel Awards on Saturday 9thDecember in Vietnam. Booking to attend this gala event can be made via the website. 



AsiaSpa Awards do notrequire a registration/admission fee. The nomination period is during April. Visit the website in mid-April to see the nominations opening and details. 

 The judges will be listed on the AsiaSpa website by late June or early July. Nominees are encouraged to approach the judges directly in order win their vote. AsiaSpa does not connect the judges with the nominees.

The shortlist and voting process are handled by the panel of judges and lawyer during early September to early October. The shortlist will then be announced on the AsiaSpa website by early to mid-October. The annual AsiaSpa Awards ceremony and announcement will take place in Hong Kong during Cosmoprof Asia on November 14-17, 2017 and then winners will be published in the Nov/Dec magazine issue. 

Visit the AsiaSpa Awards website to reference the previous awards and their categories and criteria’s. Read the criteria thoroughly to ensure you are well suited to the category. See attachment. 




Integrative Medicine is an approach that puts the patient at the centre of care and addresses the full range of physical, emotional, mental, social, spiritual and environmental influences that affect one's health and wellbeing. It utilises conventional western medicine diagnostics and treats with evidence-based complementary functional medicine and alternative therapies.

Functional Medicine views the body as one integrated system and addresses the underlying causes of ill health, using a systems-oriented approach and engaging both you and your team of practitioners in a therapeutic partnership. It is a personalised approach to preventative care and wellbeing with an understanding that every individual is different; genetically and biochemically unique. 

Through the lens of functional scientifically based medicine the question posed is: “What is the cause of this health challenge?” and “What can be done to restore function?

Lifestyle Medicine is a new branch of evidence based medicine in which comprehensive lifestyle changes (including nutrition, physical activity, stress management, social support and environmental exposures) are used to prevent, treat and reverse the progression of chronic diseases by addressing their underlying causes. The underlying cause of disease can stem from a variety of imbalances. 

The importance of healthy lifestyles in preventing and treating chronic disease is undisputed. Retreat environments provide a unique living laboratory where all aspects of lifestyle can be controlled and studied. Retreat experiences provide a unique opportunity for people to escape from unhealthy routines and engage in healthy practices and activities that lead to immediate and sustained health benefits. 

A health retreat creates an environment with a daily schedule of habits that support optimal wellness. Guided by experts from various modalities, guests are holistically supported towards harmony and homeostasis on all levels - physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. 

The body is intelligent and has the capacity for healing and immense vitality when given the right care - this is what a health retreat can provide.

A health retreat or wellness centre provides a holistic living laboratory that supports; 

Gut Health : Emotional Wellbeing : Detoxification : Nutrition : Exercise : Mental Health : Brain Health : Sleep & Rest : Relationships : Spiritual Wellbeing : Social Connection & Community : Digital Detox : Clarity of Purpose

Specific therapies, treatments and consultations address; 

Stress & Anxiety : Inflammation : Digestive Dysfunction : Hormonal Imbalance : Structural Imbalance : Physical Toxicity : Cognitive Health : Toxic Emotions : Trauma : Immune System Imbalance 

I have been an advocate for health retreats since my early 20s and I have witnessed the power and transformation that can take place when staying on retreat. There is no better investment than that of your health, and as one wise yogi said - “health is wealth and peace of mind is happiness”.



Wellness lifestyle real estate is poised for growth that is faster than the overall real estate sector over the next decade, driven by many factors ranging from ageing societies to the changing desires of younger generations, and the need to protect the environment and open space. 

Here are some eco-certifications that you might want to pursue when developing your project.


WELL works in conjunction with global green building ring systems like LEED, BREEAM. GreenStar and Living Building Challenge to enhance building performance for human health and the environment. 


LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the most widely used third-party verification for green buildings globally. Projects pursuing LEED certification earn points across several areas that address sustainability issues. Based on the number of points achieved, a project then receives one of four LEED rating levels: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum. LEED-certified buildings are resource efficient. They use less water and energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As an added bonus, they save money.


BREEAM is the world's leading sustainability assessment method for masterplanning projects, infrastructure and buildings. BREEAM inspires developers and creators to excel, innovate and make effective use of resources. The focus on sustainable value and efficiency makes BREEAM certified developments attractive property investments and generates sustainable environments that enhance the well-being of the people who live and work in them. BREEAM measures sustainable value in a series of categories, ranging from energy to ecology. Each of these categories addresses the most influential factors, including low impact design and carbon emissions reduction; design durability and resilience; adaption to climate change; and ecological value and biodiversity protection. Within every category, developments score points – called credits – for achieving targets, and their final total determines their rating.


The Living Building Challenge is the world’s most rigorous proven performance standard for buildings. People from around the world use our regenerative design framework to create spaces that, like a flower, give more than they take.


Green Globe is the global certification for sustainable tourism. It is a structured assessment of the sustainability performance of travel and tourism businesses and their supply chain partners. The Green Globe Standard includes 44 core criteria supported by over 380 compliance indicators. The applicable indicators vary by type of certification, geographical area as well as local factors.


Green Star is an internationally-recognised sustainability rating system. There are four Green Star rating tools available for certification of design, construction and operation of buildings, fitouts and communities. Green Star certification is a formal process during which a building, fitout, or precinct is awarded a rating by an independent, third party assessment panel of sustainable development experts through a documentation-based assessment. A Green Star certified rating provides independent verification that a building or community project is sustainable.



The Global Wellness Economy Monitor report was released this month at the 12th annual Global Wellness Summit, which was held at Technogym Village in Cesena, Italy. 630+ industry leaders from 50 nations were all holding their breath in anticipation of discovering the latest statistics. Here below is the press release with details.

The global wellness industry grew 12.8% in the last two years, from a $3.7 trillion market in 2015 to $4.2 trillion in 2017. This all-new data on the ten markets that comprise the global wellness economy provides fresh evidence that wellness remains one of the world’s biggest and fast-growing industries.

Economic context:

From 2015-2017, the wellness economy grew 6.4% annually, nearly twice as fast as global economic growth (3.6%).*
Wellness expenditures ($4.2 trillion) are now more than half as large as total global health expenditures ($7.3 trillion).**
The wellness industry now represents 5.3% of global economic output.

The 2018 edition features more global, regional and national data and analysis than ever before – from the fact that Europe is the fastest growing spender on workplace wellness to the finding that China and India are the fastest growing wellness tourism markets. 

Among the ten wellness markets analyzed,*** revenue growth leaders from 2015-2017 (per annum) were: 1) the spa industry (9.8%), 2) wellness tourism (6.5%) and 3) wellness real estate (6.4%). For the complementary medicine market, the definition changed since 2015 (adding traditional medicine sectors like Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine), so a formal percentage growth rate can’t be provided.

“Once upon a time, our contact with wellness was occasional: we went to the gym or got a massage. But this is changing fast: a wellness mindset is starting to permeate the global consumer consciousness, affecting people’s daily decision-making – whether food purchases, a focus on mental wellness and reducing stress, incorporating movement into daily life, environmental consciousness, or their yearning for connection and happiness,” noted Katherine Johnston, senior research fellow, GWI. “Wellness, for more people, is evolving from rarely to daily, from episodic to essential, from a luxury to a dominant lifestyle value. And that profound shift is driving powerful growth.”

Spotlight on 5 Markets (Original GWI Data)

Wellness Real Estate

Real estate that incorporates intentional wellness elements into its design, materials and building, and its amenities and programming, is growing fast as more people want to bring more health into the places where they spend the majority of their time. For comparison, the $134 billion wellness real estate market is now about 1.5% of the total annual global construction market and about half the size of the global green building industry.**** There are now more than 740 wellness real estate and community developments built or in development across 34 countries – a number that grows weekly.

Workplace Wellness

Valued at $47.5 billion, the workplace wellness market remains very small in comparison to the massive economic burden and productivity losses (10-15% of global economic output) associated with an unwell and disengaged workforce. Only 9.8% of world employees are covered by a workplace wellness program (321 million people), and programs are heavily concentrated in high-income countries in North America, Western Europe and Asia.

Wellness Tourism 

The $639 billion wellness travel market’s annual growth rate of 6.5% from 2015-2017 is more than double the growth rate for tourism overall (3.2%). World travelers made 830 million wellness trips in 2017, 139 million more than in 2015 – and these trips now represent 17% of total tourism expenditures. Wellness tourism growth is very much a tale of developing markets, with Asia-Pacific, Latin America-Caribbean, Middle East-North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa all clocking robust gains, and accounting for 57% of the increase in wellness trips since 2015. Over the past five years, Asia is the #1 gainer in both wellness tourism trips and revenues (trips grew a whopping 33% in two years, to 258 million annually). China and India rank #1 and #2 for growth worldwide, adding over 12 million and 17 million wellness trips respectively from 2015-2017.

Spa Industry:

The spa economy, which includes spa facility revenues (now $93.6 billion yearly), and also education, consulting, associations, media and event sectors that enable spa businesses (now $25.2 billion), has grown to a $118.8 billion market. Spa locations jumped from 121,595 in 2015 to over 149,000 in 2017, employing nearly 2.6 million workers. The 9.9% annual revenue growth for spas is much higher than the pace from 2013-2015 (2.3%). From 2015-2017, the hotel/resort spa category added the largest number of spas and revenue, and has now surpassed day/salon spas as the industry’s revenue leader.

Thermal & Mineral Springs:

The thermal/mineral springs market continues to clock strong growth as more people turn to water for stress relief, healing and community. The market grew from $51 billion in 2015 to $56.2 billion in 2017, while facilities jumped from 27,507 (in 109 countries) to 34,057 (in 127 countries) – employing 1.8 million workers. The market is intensely concentrated in Asia-Pacific and Europe, which account for 95% of revenues.

Projected Market Size

“In the face of longer lifespans, and rising chronic disease, stress and unhappiness, we only see growth for wellness ahead,” said Ophelia Yeung, senior research fellow, GWI. “But the wellness market isn’t just growing, it’s extremely dynamic. We believe that the three sectors that represent the core spheres of life will see the strongest future growth – wellness real estate, workplace wellness and wellness tourism – while other sectors will also grow as they support the integration of wellness into all aspects of daily life. And wellness markets will become less siloed and more interconnected, converging to offer solutions and experiences in the places where people live, work and travel.”

For more details on Growth Projections, 2017-2022 please visit:

Posted on October 1, 2018 .


I believe the usual spa and wellness experience as we know it stands on the precipice of major change, one that is a series of linked experiences that capture the imagination, that take our guests beyond the daily realm of life.

This journey into fantasia begins with the design, as is the case with The Red Mountain Resort, which is under development north of Reykjavik, Iceland. The proposed resort, with its dramatic architecture rising out of the wild, craggy volcanic landscape, immediately signals that you’ve entered an otherworldly place. The multi-sensory spa journey casts guests in a heroic voyage within the medieval saga of Bárður. They travel through five emotional states: contemplation, exposure, confrontation, clarity and enlightenment, each one expressed through a dramatic shift in Icelandic nature, replete with wind tunnels, fire baths, rain curtains, ice pools and pitch-black slides. Fear, surprise and challenge are in play, not the usual “comfort zones” of spa. And the goal of this saga-based wellness quest provides transformation through an imaginative journey.

Wellness is by nature a journey, a multi-chapter story, and a personal and emotional quest. Transformation is both elusive and personal. But if wellness over the last decades has too often involved a narrow focus on me, me, me and my betterment and beauty—we predict that concepts that use mechanisms of fantasy and theater or “wellness avatars” will rise, because they switch on people’s imagination and cast them in a bigger-than-me saga.

There are so many potential wellness stories and sagas, and so many wellness traditions across the world that could be meaningfully explored. It is expected that more wellness and spa destinations will inject theatre and fantasy into wellness experiences to create epic-level sagas that can fire up emotion. All in all this is an exciting prospect.

Part of this blog is an excerpt from the “A New Era of Transformative Wellness Travel” Trend, 2018 Global Wellness Trends Report

Posted on August 1, 2018 .


In recent years, holistic medicine has been growing in popularity. With more and more people burning out, many are turning to holistic medicine to seek new ways to manage stress.

Whatever the reason, holistic healing practices are increasing health care options.New-age disciplines like acupuncture, intensive massage therapy, Ayurveda and holistic health coaching are becoming more accessible. This has inspired more people to turn to unconventional healing practices.

Holistic Healing Defined

Holistic healing can be described as aligning the body’s mental and physical state back into its natural “state.” It addresses the imbalances in the body, bringing it back to its natural state of function. Holistic healing focuses on a wide array of healing practices. Each of these practices falls outside the conventional healing treatments. This includes treatments that are pharmaceutical and surgical in nature. Holistic healing is complementary to traditional medicine. Its healing practices are often integrated with conventional medicine, complementing conventional care. With numerous types of holistic healing practices available and new therapies emerging continuously, those starting out in the field of holistic medicine may be a little overwhelmed. Becoming a better holistic medicine practitioner requires a mindful approach. Here are several ways to become a better holistic healer today.

Find Your Specialty

While numerous holistic practices exist, they can often be grouped into five categories. These include:

●      Biological-based therapies (aromatherapy, herbal medicines, etc.)

●      Energy therapies (Reiki)

●      Alternative medical systems (Ayurveda, traditional Chinese medicine, etc.)

●      Mind-body interventions (relaxation classes, cancer support groups, etc.)

●      Manipulative and Body-based methods (chiropractic, massage therapy, etc.)

Becoming specialized in one holistic practice means you are able to arm yourself with a kind of detailed knowledge that holistic clients are looking for. Pursuing a specialty to focus on provides greater opportunity to become a subject matter expert and differentiate yourself. Specialising in education and experience defines you as a quality resource — one that many clients will seek out to address their medical concerns.

The Importance of Continuing Education

Whether you’re a seasoned holistic practitioner or simply getting your feet wet, continuing professional development is important. Remaining competent in your holistic profession is an ongoing process. Throughout your professional career, this will require continued holistic therapy training. To be a successful holistic health practitioner requires a commitment to lifelong learning. There are several ways for holistic practitioners to continue developing their skills in an ever-changing environment.


Volunteering your time and experience can be invaluable in furthering your skills as a holistic health practitioner. Health practitioners are afforded many options when it comes to volunteering. Some can choose to go serve in their local communities, aiding under-served populations with limited access to holistic medicine. Others still can go abroad with agencies like Natural Doctors International or Acupuncturists Without Borders. These opportunities enable holistic practitioners to improve access and promote the use of integrative alternative medicines. Students still on their holistic education path can also commit time to volunteering. Volunteering as a student in a clinic provides practical clinical experience.Volunteers are given comprehensive training from staff and physicians who are involved in this holistic community. These experiences help students realize their full potential, which is crucial for when they seek out professional roles.

Work Based Learning

While many holistic practitioners can choose to become self-employed, there’s something to be said about working in a healthcare clinic. Job opportunities are plentiful in healthcare clinics, from wellness centers to physicians’ offices. These clinical settings create a learning environment that will provide long-term continuous learning opportunities. Such learning environments will be essential further on in your career if you ever decide to pursue your own practice.

Upgrading Courses

Earning a position within a healthcare clinic provides additional opportunities in gaining further certification and licensures. These can be crucial in furthering your specialization in a specific holistic practice. Many healthcare clinics will even support your desire for continuous learning, enabling you to receive ongoing training and credentials through healthcare training courses.

Holistic Medicine and Technology

Another approach to becoming a better holistic healer is to use technology. The dynamics and use of modern medical technology improve the delivery of healthcare. Enhancements provided by technology advocate the prevention of illness and the preservation of health. Holistic medicine can employ modern technology to create a multi-faceted approach to wellness.

Technology-based holistic medicine:

●      Provides better communication between holistic health practitioners and patients

●      Promotes a greater ability to research

●      Promotes a healthier body

●      Provides better treatment options for various illnesses and ailments

Pulling it Together

Taking a holistic approach to your professional career requires more than just examining your current career experience. A holistic approach encourages complete participation, understanding where your career has taken you and where you hope it will continue to take you. A holistic view of your successes, goals and dreams empowers your ability to become a better holistic health practitioner for all of your clients.

Marc Innes is the Owner and Principal of the School of Natural Therapies, a training school for Massage & Holistic Therapies located in London. Marc began his career in the NHS, working in a number of managerial and training roles within the Ambulance Service in London. He spent much of that time educating and coaching medical staff. Over time, he developed an interest in all things complementary to Allopathic Medicine, in particular, Reiki Healing and EFT, which culminated in running a successful teaching and ‘energy healing’ practice. Marc is passionate about the massage and complementary therapy industry.



Loving what you do and being in flow is a key ingredient for happiness, success and fulfilment, and vocational wellness is one of the fundamental ingredients to an overall sense of wellbeing and happiness. Yet for many of us, it can at times, be really difficult to understand what makes us tick at our best. Where are we most in flow? Why do we do what we do? What is our underlying talent? And how do we ensure that we are creating and living the life and work we love?  

Last year I discovered 'Wealth Dynamics', which is a psychometric personality test that identifies your natural talent and tells you exactly which path is correct for you, and what strategy you should follow to build wealth. The clarity I received was just what I needed to understand where I best serve my business and which other profile types can best support me to grow the business in a sustainable and balanced way. 

Wealth Dynamics is a holistic approach that encompasses the wisdom of the I Ching, Chinese Five Elements and classic psychometric testing. A business approach that weaves in all of these elements spoke to me as I highly value 'self enquiry', 'knowing thyself' and 'creating a business and life I love'. 

Upon completing the profile test I was then guided to Genius U, which expanded upon what path I should follow in life. When you follow your natural genius, life becomes a joy. But if you focus on your weaknesses, everything becomes hard work. Again this highly resonated for me. 

A comprehensive series of Microdegree's are attached to Genius U, which lay out the foundational steps for progressing up the Lighthouse, which is another tool that identifies your wealth spectrum level and then explains how to take yourself to the next level. The underlying philosophy is based on the levels of consciousness and chakras. As we expand in our awareness and take action steps to move to next level our business cannot help but grow. 

Roger James Hamilton is a NY Times Best-Selling Author. Futurist and Social Entrepreneur. He is the Founder of Entrepreneurs Institute and the creator of GeniusU, Wealth Dynamics & Talent Dynamics. Roger presents seminars on these principles around the globe and last year I attended his Fast Forward Summit in Melbourne. As a result of this inspirational event I booked myself into iLAB, a two week retreat in Bali.

Joining a group of wonderful business owners from all around the world, we were guided through an educational journey that included personal growth, business learnings, clarities and experiential workshops with various experts. Set in amongst a beautiful tropical resort serving delicious wellness food and with a morning schedule of exercise I absolutely loved that I was able to merge wellness and business in this two week experience. 

For more information visit:



The retreat industry is a niche sector of the wellness tourism industry that focuses on transformative experiences that aim to improve the health of participants through healthy lifestyle experiences, along with providing the skills and knowledge to help maintain healthy behaviours. The findings from the reviewed studies suggest there are many positive health benefits from retreat experiences that includes improvements in both subjective and objective measures. The results suggest that retreat experiences can produce benefits that include positive changes in metabolic and neurological pathways, loss of weight, blood pressure and abdominal girth, reduction in health symptoms and improvements in quality of life and subjective wellbeing.

In addition to facilitating general health improvements, there is evidence that retreat experiences can have a positive impact on chronic disease processes and provide benefits for some people with life threatening and/or chronic diseases. 

The finding that retreat experiences can lead to sustained and significant health improvements long after participants return home suggests that these experiences assist guests in making positive lifestyle changes and adopting healthy behaviours that lead to a variety of positive psychological, physiological, cognitive, clinical and metabolic effects. The ability to influence participants’ health once they return home is dependent on many factors including the type of participants involved, the education and experiences provided during the retreat program, and the provision of follow-up activities such as online coaching, nutrition programs, or follow-up consultations with practitioners. 

While it is not possible to determine which parts of the retreat intervention have the greatest influence, it is likely that improvements in health are due to a combination of psychological and behavioural factors that lead to better coping mechanisms and enhanced resilience to stress, as well as metabolic factors that lead to alterations in gene expression and DNA repair mechanisms.

Despite the potential for retreat experiences to benefit people with chronic and life threatening disease, the retreat industry does not routinely interact with the health care sector with few patients being referred to retreats by medical practitioners and retreat experiences are generally not covered by third party payment schemes or eligible for tax deductions or incentives. The lack of integration between the healthcare and retreat sectors may be partly due to a lack of data with which to evaluate retreat experiences.  

Such data could include a combination of psychological, cognitive, physiological, anthropometric and biochemical measures that together provide a holistic assessment of outcomes. This would allow retreat participants to evaluate and monitor the impact of their experiences and provide data to engage the medical profession and third party payers. It would also be beneficial for the industry to develop a standardised reporting system for retreat activities so that the influence of different types of retreat experiences can be assessed and results meaningfully compared across retreats and studies.

While retreat experiences appear to have positive health impacts, there is no published data on the economic impact of retreat experiences. There is however, substantial evidence that non-residential wellness programs, which share a similar focus on health promotion and lifestyle modification, provide a substantial economic return. A review of 28 studies of corporate wellness programs finds that the economic benefit of participation is substantially higher than the costs of providing the program. Stead reports benefit-to-cost ratios averaging 3.4–1 which indicates that corporate companies receive on average US$3.40 for every US$1 invested in the respective wellness program. In addition to return on investment, employees benefit from participating in corporate wellness programs through experiencing better health, lowered disability payments and reduced health care expenditures, while companies benefit from reduced employee turnover, increased productivity and reduced absenteeism and presenteeism along with intangible benefits such as being an employer of choice and attracting highly skilled employees and creating a positive corporate culture 

While the economic benefits of corporate wellness programs are becoming well established, it is unclear if similar benefits are offered by residential retreats. Future studies that include a health economic analysis are therefore needed to determine the cost-benefits of retreat experiences and the return on investment for participants, businesses, health insurers and policy makers. This may enable retreat operators to advocate for tax benefits, as well as inclusion in health insurance policies, and corporate wellness schemes. 

As the observed improvements in chronic diseases are based on a small number of patients, future research using larger numbers of subjects and longer follow-up periods is needed in order to determine the populations most likely to benefit and quantify any long-term health benefits. Future studies could also benefit from more rigorous study designs including the use of standardized outcome measures, more detailed descriptions of the retreat interventions and study population, and the inclusion of a health economics analysis in order to determine the economic benefits of retreat experiences for individuals, as well as for businesses, health insurers and policy makers.

Excerpt from: 

Researched by: Dhevaksha Naidoo, Adrian Schembri and Marc Cohen

Posted on March 2, 2018 .


January began on a busy note, following a phone call from the soon to open William Inglis Hotel in Warwick Farm, Sydney. The hotel had been in planning and under construction for some time, however the addition of a day spa and fitness centre was only decided upon in November, so by the time I received a call in December it meant this pre-opening needed to be executed with utmost efficiency. 

Fortunately pre-openings are one of my favourite tasks. I actually enjoy rolling up my sleeves and being onsite to bring everything to life. Plus I love visual merchandising and interior styling! However, first things first. I needed to understand the location, guest demographic, hotel concept and owners vision so that I could choose the appropriate spa partner, curate a treatment menu, guide the brand identity and choose styling items for the day spa. Then the phone calls and planning began. 

Waterlily Skin Body and Spa was able to deliver an opening order and training within the tight time frame we had. I pulled together a critical path, delegated out various jobs so we could meet the deadline and began purchasing the most urgent of the 600 or so operational supply and equipment items. The Christmas break was the perfect time to go into creative copywriting for the spa menu, which was then immediately handed over to the Accor sales and marketing team for graphic design. I found the stock image below, which is perfect because it speaks to horses, racing tracks and brides... everything the William Inglis Hotel is about. 

The design of the day spa was mostly complete so no major changes to layout could be made, but a few tweaks in the selection of furnishings and the addition of more retail shelving was actioned. Arriving into what was still a construction zone on January 11th with 7 days to unpack OSE, set up, train the team, implement systems and processes and be photo shoot ready required great communication and coordination. Fortunately we were working with a great Accor management team so this helped us overcome the usual little disasters and defects that happen when construction is still in play. 

Our lovely therapists and spa manager were trained in the treatment protocols and we then ran a soft opening for two days which gave us the opportunity to practice and discover the weak areas we still had time to fix before official opening day. Very important and highly recommended for any new business. 

Overall this is a grand hotel and the spa is a beautiful addition, which I expect will become quite the destination for the Liverpool area. I myself look forward to returning for a spa experience when next in Sydney.