Spa industry voices: inspiration and leadership for 2023

By Wendy Golledge


By Wendy Golledge

26 January 2023

What do the best in the business think the coming year has in store for the spa and wellness industry?

European Spa has already revealed insights from Accor’s Health to Wealth White Paper this month, as well as showcasing the best new spas coming in 2023 and must-attend industry events.

Now we’ve asked spa and wellness leaders to exclusively share their thoughts on opportunities they see for the industry in the year ahead, what they hear people are talking about right now in spa, and how they would like to see spa businesses grow and develop.

Heidi Grimwood, vice-president of ELE|NA

‘We must help guests to live for the now’

“With ongoing wars, the threat of recessions and another pandemic, our guests are living in the future, not in the present. This year, we need to educate them about mindfulness and how to live more in the moment.

“Anxiety will cause more health issues than ever before, which will have a knock-on effect with other illnesses, so guests will need more focus on mental health and coping mechanisms to get them through these tough times. Social media adds to the stress, so I really want to see more digital detoxes on offer, no matter how small.

Educating your spa guests can turn them into ambassadors for your brand

“For me education is the priority in spa and wellness this year. We need to educate our guests – empower them to understand how to manage their health and wellness and, in return, they will become our brand ambassadors.

“We also need to seriously upgrade and upskill our therapists. Wellness has been a buzz word for so long but so few are getting it absolutely right. Not everyone wants to become a manager or go to corporate office and we need healers! So, we need to give stronger career paths for our therapists or we risk losing amazing talent.”

Heidi Grimwood was named Global Spa Leader of the Year 2022 at the World Spa and Wellness Awards

Lasse Erikson, development manager at Farris Bad spa hotel, Norway, and World Wellness Weekend ambassador

‘Looking to the past while creating a sustainable future’

“For me 2023 is about sustainability, energy, deeper love and spirituality and why not also fix that work-life balance, too?

“Energy costs are skyrocketing so when better to upgrade our sustainability goals and become self-sustainable? For many it may be invest or die, for your business and the planet. This is our very best opportunity to take that leap we all should have done years ago.

Sustainability is at the heart of operations at Norway's Farris Bad

“In many countries, bathing culture is awakening and our ancestors’ sacred bathing rituals are seeing a resurgence. I look forward to spas embracing the ways our ancestors accessed physical and spiritual cleansing, offering a deeply sacred journey with the intent to connect guests to nature as well as their own mind, body and spirit.

“Who doesn’t want to disconnect from life and connect to LIFE once in a while?”


Patrizia Bortolin, wellness project manager at Preidlhof and founder of Glowing Flow Spa Consultancy

‘Synergies and innovation alongside empathy and authenticity’

“If businesses and hoteliers want to upgrade from being a luxury hotel with basic spa services, the sector needs to understand that nuances, experience and perspectives matter. People want holistic spa concepts and transformational travel – we need to continually innovate while staying mindful, emphatic and authentic.

Preidlhof offers a transformational wellness experience

“I’d like to see more engagement and new synergies between wellness, travel and food and beverage teams; spa values should be felt in every department.

“And I hope also to see more multi-generational teams. We need the spa environment to be magic every day, meaningful and welcoming both for guests and all team members – going beyond formalities and dated models.”

André Julseth, general manager of The Well Spa & Hotel in Oslo

‘Creating communities to find joy’

“I see the rise in sauna rituals and collective social spa-ing as a big topic.

“Traditionally it’s been about a group shared experience, however this has been reinvented for today – now it’s about building a wellness community. Young and old, men and women are gathering around relaxing, rejuvenating and energising via sauna rituals.

The Well's saunas are a social space for collective experiences

“Here at The Well, we pride ourselves in offering the combination of heat and water therapies, and the health benefits of immersion in nature. Spa-ing is no longer a solo pursuit, we find people arrive alone but quickly find friends and choose to spend time together finding joy in the same spa rituals.”

Belgin Aksoy, founder of Global Wellness Day and creative director of Richmond International

‘Wellness and health are the new adventure’

“Post-lockdown people are craving health, togetherness and sense of community. There is great interest in communal thermal experiences.

“I believe wellness travel will change, as post-pandemic travelers look for adventures. Vodka parties are out, immune booster sauna parties are in.

Health is the new wealth in 2023

“Health is not taken for granted anymore, people are starting to understand the difference between health and wellness. I personally will be very happy once every single person in the world is aware of the fact that wellness is not a luxury, but it is the inherent right of every individual which has been my motto for almost 15 years.”

Davin Jones, international yoga teacher and consultant

 Creating wellness micro-communities

“The idea of wellbeing is changing – it’s about physicality, emotionality and spirituality, working in harmony.

“Spas and retreats offer an escape, but post-Covid guests increasingly want to connect, to meet other likeminded people, to partake in movement practices and to bond as a group.

Movement classes can draw people together

“Spas must harness this need. Yoga workshops can really connect people and create ‘micro-community’, but spas have a duty to hire specialist teachers, who can encourage guests to be fully emersed and open to the changes happening both in their mind and body, whatever their ability.

“In the past yoga teaching has been fairly unregulated – try to ensure your yoga instructor has Yoga Alliance qualifications, preferably a 500 (E-RYT) registered teacher.”

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