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Spa People: 20th anniversary issue

Ingo Schweder

Traditional spas are being disrupted by the rise of social wellness clubs

Ingo Schweder, GOCO Hospitality Photo: GOCO Hospitality
Residences at Glen Ivy Hot Springs are an example of the flourishing wellness real estate movement photo: Tierra Design

What are your pivotal career moments?
I was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in 1993. The wellness industry was still in its infancy, but I turned to yoga, meditation, detoxing and macrobiotic cuisine/targeted supplements in my two-year survival battle. I travelled the globe meeting academics such as Marc Cohen, Gerry Bodeker and Robert Thurman, learnt about the vast cosmos of complementary alternative modalities and experienced environments such as banyas, rasuls, hammams and bathhouses. The cancer-related downtime and healing regimes ultimately changed the direction of my career – for which I’m grateful.

What key innovations can you identify?
There are so many! Those focused on mind and emotional health, tapping into binaural and solfeggio therapies, are particularly interesting. Examples include Mindsync, the Biohacking Orb, Sensync’s Vessel and Gharieni’s Welnamis.

What do you wish had been invented?
The use and application of technology for diagnostics is already having a tremendous impact on personalised healing journeys. These often enable consumers to take charge of their own health. However, there’s a gap for devices and wearables to offer real-time advice to counterbalance the strains of everyday life – ‘your stress levels are too high, you need to take 10 minutes out to meditate’, ‘cut down on your carbs today, you’re not doing enough to burn them’.

Who are the biggest industry influencers?
Gen Z continues to have a profound impact on wellness and leisure travel. They’re more concerned about sustainability in travel, accommodation and products than others.

They want elevated experiences off the beaten track and they’re big advocates of social wellness, shirking traditional spa experiences centred around solo, quiet-based activities.

What business models are the most exciting?
Wellness real estate ventures, centred around healthy lifestyles, are prospering and influencing the wider communities around them. Our project in Appenzell, Switzerland, for example, will open early next year.

Traditional spas are being disrupted with the rise of social wellness clubs such as Remedy Place, Next Health, The Well and the one we’re developing in Four Seasons Bangkok. Based in cities, they’re leading the charge in making preventative medicine more accessible with their biohacking and high-tech modalities such as hyperbaric oxygen, cryotherapy, IV infusions, photobiomodulation and pulsed electromagnetic field therapy.

How can the industry realise its true potential?
I applaud a more democratised global wellness economy. But I would like to see operators offering ‘sister’ models with a more accessible price point to ultimately offer wellness to all.

Birthday message to Spa Business

"I’m a regular reader and fan of Spa Business. It’s the go-to magazine for spa professionals. It ventures past the superficial to help us all stay attuned to global happenings and wider sector movements"

More from spa industry leaders...

In celebration of Spa Business’ 20th anniversary, industry leaders take a look at how far the sector has come since the magazine’s inception in 2003, share personal career highlights and reveal their plans and ideas for the future.

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Originally published in Spa Business 2023 issue 3
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