Hotelier Maldives has hosted the first ever Wellness Summit in the country at Kurumba Maldives on September 6, 2017. The Summit brought together leaders in the spa and wellness industry, both in the country and from around the region, and featured discussions and debate on opportunities as well as key challenges faced by both wellness and hospitality industries alike.

The first keynote address was delivered by Jesper Hougaard, founder and managing director of Serena Spa.

“We have an opportunity to add value to what we’re offering in spas,” said Hougaard. “The global wellness industry is valued at 3.7 trillion dollars. It’s big money and we need to discover how we can tap into that and get a slice of the pie.”

Jesper Hougaard, Founder & Managing Director, Serena Spa

The summit’s first panel was on how wellness can enhance revenue for resorts. Panellists were Herchell Cabrera, Associate Spa Director One&Only Reethi Rah; Ana Marques, Spa Director, Niyama Private Islands and Bradley Calder, GM at Hurawalhi Island Resort. The panel was moderated by Jesper Hougaard.

Hougaard went over different sorts of spa experiences, highlighting ones that aren’t available in the Maldives. Marques touched on the importance of adapting to guests’ needs, saying the main motivation for coming to the Maldives was relaxation and activities.

“We have to cater to all these markets. It has to be done in a professional and genuine way, and it begins with educating your staff,” said Marques.

Herchell added: “We focus on educating staff who’re not only from the spa. If members of our team experiences and appreciates wellness and taking care of themselves, then they’re in a better position to inform guests on such matters.”

The second keynote speech was delivered by Anni Hood, the Managing Partner at WELL Intelligence and Managing Director at WELL Business Solutions.

“Today, in 2017, as we move on to 2020, the interconnectivity, the interdependence of everything that’s happening in the world will have an effect on your business,” she said.

She admitted that technology plays a great role in the business, to do without technology is to be left out. “The currency of wellness is a connection; how we connect to ourselves, to other people, to nature,” she added.

Anni Hood, Managing Partner, WELL Intelligence & Managing Partner, WELL Business Solutions

She also stressed the importance of authenticity, predicting that inauthentic fads, contained within bubbles, are likely to burst. Her speech was followed by a networking lunch.

Following that the second panel discussion focused on wellness trends. Panellists included Anni Hood, Trent Munday, Senior Vice President of the International Steiner Spa Consulting/Mandara Spa; Hussain Zinan, CEO, Total Fitness Group and the panel was moderated by Renate Hermes, Group Spa Director, Duniye Spa.

Panel on "How wellness can enhance revenue for resorts" - Jesper Hougaard, Founder & Managing Director, Serena Spa; Bradley Calder, General Manager, Hurawalhi Island Resort; Ana Marques, Spa Director, Niyama Private Islands; Herchell Cabrera, Associate Spa Director, One&Only Reethi Rah (from Left to Right)

Hermes made observations on the human condition and how it affects the people who seek wellness. “People want to be touched and connected at a deeper level, they want to feel significant. And this provides a lot of opportunity for us as service providers,” she said.

Munday questioned the current conception of the spa: “A consumer 20 years ago didn’t know what a spa was, but now consumers can have a spa treatment wherever they want, at home, at work. I think the whole concept of the spa has to be re-evaluated. Wellness is all around us, it’s in the restaurant, in the bed. If that’s how it is, why do we need a spa?”

Zinan stressed the importance of integrating various elements that contribute to mental, physical and spiritual well-being into wellness. “We have to have a broader focus, and integrate the pillar of rejuvenation with the pillar of activity.”

Once the panel concluded, Hougaard taught the audience a simple meditation technique. “It’s about taking control over your thoughts rather than having them control you,” he said.

Next was a case study on sustainability by two Soneva Fushi personnel, Gordon Jackson, Waste to Wealth Manager and Ahmed Moomin, Community Engagement Manager.

Renate Hermes, Group Spa Director, Duniye Spa

Gordon explained how pruned branches were turned into sawdust for growing mushrooms, composting food waste that goes to organic gardens and reusing Styrofoam with glass to build lightweight bricks to support new structures.

Moomin went over Soneva’s community engagement projects, including holding learn to swim programmes and water sports festivals, beach clean-ups, and the exchange of knowledge between the resort and local communities. “We learn from each other as equals,” he said.

Panel on "Global Wellness Trends" - Renate Hermes, Group Spa Director, Duniye Spa; Hussain Zinan, CEO, Total Fitness Group TfG; Trent Munday, Senior Vice President, International Steiner Spa Consulting; Anni Hood, Managing Partner, WELL Intelligence & Managing Partner, WELL Business Solutions (from Left to Right)

Their presentation was followed by an introduction to sleep therapy by Shosil Mahato, the Spa Manager at Velaa Private Island. “Sleep therapy will enhance your productivity, as productivity depends on a clear mind,” he said, after several minutes of lulling attendees to tranquillity.

On behalf of the organisers, Mohamed Mamduh, Managing Director of Perspective Pvt Ltd (the publisher of Hotelier Maldives) extended his thanks to participants and sponsors, noting that the event had been a success as a number of issues around wellness was covered and would be fuel for further discourse on the subject.

Hotelier Maldives’ Wellness Summit 2017 was supported by Warisan Hospitality and COSMERC as Gold Sponsors. The Silver Sponsor of the event was Scubaspa and Morteza Capital joined the event as Knowledge Partner.