Spa Life Ireland 2023: the re-invention of wellness

The popular event brought together industry colleagues for two days of networking, meetings and wellness experiences


By Mark Smith

20 September 2023

Spa Life Ireland 2023, held at Fota Island Resort in Co Cork, brought together industry colleagues for two days of networking, meetings and wellness experiences. Billed as the largest spa-dedicated event in Ireland, 138 delegates attended the luxury five-star resort.

Expert speakers

Session offered the chance to learn about the latest trends and hear insights from world-class speakers.

These included Noella Gabriel, global president and co-founder of Elemis; wellness pioneer Christine Clinton; and Freddie Moross, founder of Myndstream.

European Spa is proud to be the official media partner of this highly focused business event, which provides new opportunities for spa managers and directors to meet in person, often for the first time.

Headshot of Andrew Hammond, founding director Spa Life Ireland

“There was a spirit of celebration and collaboration right from the outset, which was re-enforced through the mixed-group wellness experiences and the fun-filled gala dinner. And the meetings and educational sessions were extremely well received. We cannot wait to do it all again next year.”

Andrew Hammond

Co-founder, Spa Life Ireland

Spa Life Ireland also allows brands and spa suppliers to present their latest launches directly to the decision-makers that count.

“Wow! What an event,” said Andrew Hammond, co-founder, Spa Life Ireland.

“The welcome BBQ was a great icebreaker and set the scene for a relaxed, informal atmosphere for delegates to reconnect with peers from around the country, and the Irish Spa Community fully embraced the opportunity.”

Speakers photographed at a conference in Ireland
Speakers at Spa Life Ireland

Networking at Spa Life Ireland

Spa Life Ireland creates the perfect balance of business and wellness connections. An informal BBQ on the evening before the event opened was a great chance to meet and connect with industry colleagues. The one-to-one business meetings then enabled spa suppliers and spa decision-makers to connect face-to-face.

During the afternoon, a series of wellness experiences were offered in the hotel’s spa, and special congratulations went to Gosia Newell, spa manager at Fota Island Resort, and her team for organising this part of the day.

The first day concluded with a gala dinner and live music.

woman speaking at a lecturn
Noella Gabriel

Noella Gabriel: from treatment room to board room

Day two began with an opening address by Noella Gabriel, global president and co-founder of Elemis. Detailing her journey from treatment room to board room, Gabriel talked about various elements of her life and how each of these paved the way for her to become the leader of one of the industry’s most recognised brands.

As a young child she began singing lessons as a mezzo soprano, and at one point was destined to be a singer. It was at the Cork School of Music that she learnt the art of the breath. She went on to found Acorn Health Food Shop in Cork in 1979 and learnt about retail, nutrition and how to adapt to life’s challenges.

From small acorns…

Gabriel became a CIDESCO-trained beauty therapist and travelled the world before discovering the power of aromatherapy. In 1986 she joined Harvey Nichols, running the beauty department, where she took a deep dive into luxury retail.

It was there that she gained a true understanding of the importance of P&L, profit margins, customer care and the value of listening to the client. She told Spa Life Ireland attendees: “Never lose sight of the client, these relationships are so important.”

Her talk offered insights into her time leading Elemis from its New York office, the challenges of Covid-19 and selling the brand to the L’Occitane Group.

The insightful and thought-provoking presentation was delivered with humility, and she left a reminder for everyone attending: “Listen more, hear more… and women, be kind to other women in business. We are often the harshest critics.”

Woman standing on stage speaking to the Spa Life Ireland conference
Christine Clinton

Christine Clinton: wellness for all

The second speaker, Christine Clinton, posed the question: “Is our industry ready to embrace change to deliver wellness for all?”

A passionate advocate for ensuring full and equal access to wellness for everyone of all abilities and ages, Clinton demonstrated how spas can be family-friendly in a way that improves their bottom line and widens the client base of the business.

She explained how spa therapies can benefit children going through growing pains and from a mental health perspective. She added that there are many other benefits of spa for families, including quiet time together, options for reconnecting without digital devices and healthy options on food menus to enjoy.

Her talk went onto inspire spa managers to embrace wellness for all and to think about how their respective businesses could open their doors to a younger audience.

Woman in green dress speaking at a conference
Erin Lee

Erin Lee: how halotherapy can improve a business’s profitability

Erin Lee, consultant and executive director of the World Halotherapy Association, explained how low-cost, low-tech equipment and ‘therapy stacking’ can create new, profitable opportunities for spas.

She talked about the history of halotherapy and how it has developed into a holistic alternative to many pharmaceutical options, especially for breathing conditions.

Her talk detailed how a return on investment can be achieved in certain timeframes, as well as the options for therapy stacking – bringing several complementary treatments and modalities together in one session. This can be especially important when utilising unused room space in a spa, she told delegates.

man wearing a microphone headset speaking on stage
Freddie Moross

Freddie Moross: the potent power of music

Founder of Myndstream, Freddie Moross spoke passionately about the vital role of music for enhancing wellness outcomes.

His business works with award-winning composers and producers that have worked on leading international film scores.

Taking this to another level, Moross explained how, in hospitality, music can do more than simply set the mood. His presentation also discussed how cleverly curated music can help to drive revenue when integrated into a spa space.

“We want to bring the expertise and professionalism of the music for media industry to the wellness community,” said Moross.

He addressed the importance of music in people’s lives already, and how sleep radio stations are constantly in the top five radio stations globally. People are already using music to relax, he said. It is now for the spa industry to embrace this shift through curated sound experiences.

panel of experts speaking on a stage at Spa Life Ireland conference
MArk Smith hosts a panel discussion with Tara de Courcey and Alana McAtamney

Panel discussion: the case for investment

I had the privilege of presenting a panel on the challenges and opportunities when building a case for investment. I was joined by Tara de Courcey, director and spa and wellness at Cashel Palace Hotel, and Alana McAtamney, spa manager at Roe Park Resort.

According to the Global Wellness Institute’s Wellness Economy Report 2022, international wellness travellers spend 35% more than leisure guests, and domestic spa travellers spend 156% more.

In the session we explored how in an ever-changing wellness landscape, it is important to ensure that your facilities and services are keeping pace with the latest trends.

This enables a business to remain competitive. This vision is important when there are new spas launching locally and when, post-pandemic, guest expectations have increased.

Spas were advised to elevate the importance of spa in the hospitality business and to effectively communicate that to colleagues and managers. It was highlighted that speaking the language of peers and managers is vital to be heard and listened to.

At the heart of this is the need to create a great business plan that is strong on the financials and clear on the ROI.


Sign up here to receive our weekly news delivered direct to your inbox


Read the latest edition...

To stay informed and inspired by reading the new autumn 2023 issue of European Spa magazine, click below


Sign up to our digital edition

Sign Up Now

European Spa Magazine is published by Spa Publishing Ltd    |    Company registration number: 6293825

About    |    Contact Us    |    Privacy Policy    |    Terms & conditions    |    Disclaimer

© Copyright 2024 - Spa Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.