Monday, December 6, 2010


I HAVE SPOKEN AT A NUMBER OF Med-Spa shows on this subject and found that that there is a great deal of confusion and misunderstanding on what it is and who can take advantage of this new trend? First let us just understand clearly that there is a difference between wellness tourism and Medical Tourism. Wellness is generally associated with destinations offering spa and a variety of programs that will enhance wellbeing. Medical Tourism is a purely medical opportunity to receive medical services of many kinds while sometimes combining it with a vacation, but often only for the purpose of having access at Medical procedures at either a lower cost from what can be found at home or /and in a more agreeable environment and with better services or to have access to procedures that are not offered in one’s country.

At most of the venues where this subject is discussed we find that many medical organizations or individual doctor’s group try to explain the phenomenon through a medical filter only. They would like us to think that their quality of care is so exceptional that what Medical Tourism is all about, is for them to set up their own medical practices in foreign lands that are tax friendly, less regulatory and as in the case of the North American continent where liability suits are not the National pastime! If indeed these facts are real, they overlook the main issue: from the customer’s point of view: the cost and, but mostly the quality of Service is the main reason for them to choose to seek medical cares outside of their own country. To export what exists at home to make more money would only be possible if everything else were equal! I will not dwell in the relative quality of medical savvy as in most cases the actual medical intervention whether it is cosmetic, surgery, orthopedic surgery or even cardiology or dentistry, most doctors involved have basically the same training and are for the most part equally competent.
So where is the difference? It is predominantly in the pre and mostly the post surgical care found. The quality of expertise and service in hospitals in the U.S. is less than mediocre; it is not so great in Europe! Quite good in small countries in the middle East, North Africa, Central and South America, quite good in Asia.

As Medical Tourism and Wellness Tourism are becoming a hot ticket in the Healthcare debate, it might be a good time to reassess the status quo and in trying to deal with new givens that will ultimately have a great impact on the future of health and wellness. First, it is advisable to be honest about the quality of services offered! It is not a sound idea to continue to pretend to be the best! When in fact the US Medical services were ranked 37th in the world on the last comparative evaluation done by the World Health Organization, this was in 2001, other comparative studies places the U.S at 82nd., nothing to brag about! After that report came out the AMA backed by the Pharmaceutical industry pressure the international body not to continue to report on the comparative value of healthcare services in the world! Surely it was embarrassing to have Cuba in the top 5 while little countries like San Marino, or Andorra were in the top three! But to be in denial has never been the answer to solving any problems, and the day of reckoning is fast approaching and Medical Tourism will be one of the catalysts that will make it happen. As medical services are becoming dehumanized, the dissatisfaction of the consumers will grow and soon they will no longer be afraid to travel to foreign lands to find what they will not have at home: Warm, Personalized care, with a smile! at 1/10th. the cost of what can be found at home!

And of course there is the whole cost issue! It has totally gone out of control! The industry has become the cash cow of Pharmaceutical companies, supported by trade unions and litigation lawyers in the U.S. How long will the consumers accept to be raped and abused by people whose sole interest in life is financial gains at the expense of anything else? The internet information highway among others has brought information to the people; no one can justify today costs of 10 to 20 times higher for the same product! When consumers begin to realize this, they will in my opinion not turn the other cheek, but simply turn to other options.

Yes Medical Tourism is going to be a very hot ticket, but not for countries like The U.S, Canada, the U.K. etc. and, what will happen with Medical Tourism is already happening in Wellness when we analyze the results of surveys done in Asia and North Africa among foreign spa goers, who cite clearly their preference for spas in these countries over what they have at home, mostly based on SERVICE quality, but also on technical deliveries (particularly: massages) which we all know represent some 80% of treatments requested at spas worldwide.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Many in the Spa community have been shocked to learn of the demise of the Spa Chakra company? Probably, because they only saw the illusion of expertise that the principals portrayed! When I first witnessed what they were doing, it was during the Global Summit in New-York; I predicted then, their ultimate failure. And for the same reasons there will be many more to follow. The Spa business is first and foremost a people’s business, a human relations business, simply put it is a SERVICE industry, and all those who think that they will be successful by attending a Retail Sale workshop at ISPA, just failed to really understand what the Spa philosophy is all about and in time will have the same failure result of the Spa Chakra fate.

In the lectures that I give worldwide I very often use the Food and Beverage industry as a comparative, here again the analogy is the same: the restaurant business seems simple and many think that without a great deal of experience they can enter this activity and be successful? Nothing is more wrong! Nine out of ten restaurants that open close in failure within two years of opening! The very same thing is about to happen to the Spa would be experts. Yes, the Spa Chakra example is quite characteristic of the failures by not understanding the importance of the human element but it goes far beyond that. For a while, patrons of spas were uneducated and accepted whatever was served to them and were told that they should appreciate what they were receiving! For a time they did! But the planet is shrinking and travel is easier now than in the past, and as spa clients travelled abroad, in Asia, Europe the Middle East, they soon discovered services that were far superior to what they received at home! Little by little they went from Fast food criteria’s to Gourmet food expectancies, and in the process became more savvy and demanding. Unfortunately the service providers did not follow! And the worst of them fell and will fall through the cracks.

Americans have a cultural problem brought here by the first puritan settlers, they tend to view pleasure as a sin, they have a major problem with touch and with nudity, and these traits affect their behavior and are reflected in their attitude towards the clientele in spas. Massages represent some 82% of all treatment sought in spas worldwide! The average massage delivered in the U.S. referred to as a Full body massage does not work on feet, upper thighs, stomach, chest, buttocks and even hands and face! It is the laughing stock of the international spa community! The draping issue is another aberration! Some spas are starting to allow clients to decide how or if they want to be draped during a massage but most simply impose the Mummy wrap! This would be like imposing a bland curry to the patrons in an Indian or Thai restaurant!

Yes the time of reckoning is fast approaching. The stark and cold demeanor of spa workers will have to change to smiles and warmth, the menus in spas will have to reflect the subliminal desires of well-being and pleasure of the clientele rather than a pseudo-medical approach designed to justify the treatments. Of course this is not going to happen easily as there are too many conflicting interests: the massage schools who are more interested in impressing the students by scientific knowledge which they will never use, refusing to accept that the majority of the jobs for massage therapists today are in the Spa Industry, not in hospitals! And therefore teaching their students pseudo medical attitude rather than a service oriented one. The product manufacturers who are only interested in selling their products and offer “free training”? only designed to increase product sales at the expense of customer satisfaction. And adding insult to injury the many institutions of learning who, claiming an expertise in Management techniques pretend to teach management skills, but shunning the technical aspect of the industry which they feel is below their dignity to get involved in; producing otherwise brilliant young men and women who quite academically become an integral part of the Failure of the system.In what has become a Mutual Admiration Society the sentiments expressed above will rattle many but after objective introspection many will recognize the truth in my comments and take steps to correct the down spiral that they may be in. It is with that in mind that I offer these observations.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Branding: what you do not know will probably hurt you!

What do we mean by branding? It is choosing a brand to identify a service. In the Spa World it usually means picking a well-known brand of cosmetics and associating it to the specific Spa one is operating. There are many as most of the cosmetic brands have jumped on the Spa “band wagon”, so you have Clarins Spa, Decleor Spa, Shiseido Spa, Pevonia Spa, Guerlain Spa, etc. The list is long but I think you get the point. The reasons hoteliers or Spa operators do this is quite simple: first they usually choose a well recognized consumer brand that advertises a lot in magazines, T.V. and other media, so as to garner through the label some notoriety. Ideally, they have chosen a luxury brand and thus hope that the quality of the product, or at least the image of quality that the brand spends millions to project, will be perceived as theirs.

There are markets that are more sensitive to brands than others: North Africa, the Middle East, Asia…but overall it is a planetary phenomenon! Often consumers judge the quality of a product by its brand image. This all sounds good, and one would be tempted to think that this is the way to go and in some cases it may very well be. However there is another factor that one must consider first and foremost and that is: what is the subliminal message of the brand? And they all have one! We all know that subliminal messages are a lot more powerful than straight messages. This is why subliminal insertions of images in T.V. commercials, for instance, are prohibited by law in most countries. For instance, everyone understands the underlying messages of automobile brands: Ferrari’s is speed, jet-set, exotic; Rolls-Royce’s is luxury class, expensive; Volvo’s is solid, safe, reliable, etc. When choosing a brand for a Spa, one must understand clearly the message behind the brand and make sure that that message will be compatible with the Mission Statement of the Spa (if the Spa has one. And that is another issue!).

Most cosmetic brands are associated with women’s products! Male Spa clientele in some countries are 75 to 80 % in European hotels 55% in the U.S. 42% and climbing! A large number of men would probably not patronize a product that is primarily identified as a feminine product! The choice of such a brand will appeal to the female clientele but the Spa will probably only attract but a few men and thus not be as successful as it could be otherwise.

Many Spas in resort hotels in exotic destinations such as Tahiti, Morocco, Dubai, etc., have gone the branding way and yet have also missed the point completely! Clients who choose to go to these destinations are looking for dream vacations and exotic experiences and are not at all impressed by sophisticated French, Italian or even Asian lines that in no way represent the exotic environment of the region in which they find themselves! These Spas will (not surprisingly) not do very well with their retails sales! Do you really think that someone going to the Mamounia in Marrakech is going to buy Shiseido products to bring back home, or Decleor products in Brazil, Clarins from Dubai or Phytomer from the Dead Sea? They are more likely seeking to test and bring back local products. It is an interesting and somewhat fun experience that clients seek when they go to a Spa and particularly when they go to a Resort Spa. Therefore, it stands to reason that a brand that they associate with home is not the one that will make them dream!
Cosmetic brands will tell their potential clients that not only do they bring the recognition of the brand, but they will also provide training for the staff! That sounds good to an hotelier, but in fact the training is mainly geared towards trying to sell the products and not towards client service satisfaction. The bottom line is this: the choice of a brand is more complicated than it seems and it requires a good analysis of the hidden messages as well as the appropriateness of the brand to the business. Few consultants even understand this; Aspen Spa Management has always included such research in all its feasibility studies.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Spa architecture

The best architects in the world have at one point in time been asked to design a Spa. Stark, Putman, Garcia and Rochon, just to name a few, all have one thing in common: they are great architects! But they also have another thing in common: they do not know how to design a Spa! They can make them look nice, interesting, even spectacular, but in most cases NOT functional. That is why most of the Spas they have designed are not doing great! It is not their fault, but since they have no clue as to how a Spa operates, they rely upon their clients to tell them. This is where the problem resides: the clients don't know either and most of the consultants that are brought on board know how ONE type of Spa operates. Usually, they started by winging it as a Spa director or manager but do not necessarily have the know-how nor do they know if this particular type of Spa is the one that will be best for this particular project.

Architects have been told in school to obtain from the client the parameters of what they want in terms of utilization of space. With this information, the architect puts together a layout. So essentially that layout will only be as good as the person who identified it and this where the first problem resides. There are no schools to teach specific Spa design so it ends up being an exercise of plagiarism or simply put, let’s copy something that seems to work!

All the main hotel chains have compiled lists of technical parameters for Spa design. Where does this information come from? Usually a massage therapist, an aesthetician or perhaps a former Spa director! If you have any doubt about the lack of competency of these people in designing, change industry and imagine asking a busboy, a waiter or maitre’d to design a restaurant. Certainly they can have an input in the design but surely they do not have the expertise to cover all aspects of designing something which ultimately will have to be efficient in its management. So let us look at the most ridiculous examples of incompetence:

1.) None of the specs available distinguish the vast differences that there are between Spas. They would like you to think that there is only one type of Spa that fits all. The result: I have seen designs of Thermal Spas where there are no mineral or other springs! I have seen Thalassotherapy designs in the mountains hundreds of miles from the sea! I have seen fitness Spas where the clients patronizing the hotel are totally uninterested in physical exercise. I have seen medical Spas designs in Spas managed by high school drop outs that would not be able to perform a medical procedure even if their life depended on it.

2.) Most of the time the program does not identify the types of treatments that will be featured on the menu, but will tell the architect that they want 10 treatment rooms! Yet in fact, the number of treatment rooms is not really that important whereas the number of work stations really is! The result: it is like designing a restaurant indicating the number of seats in the dinning room but not what type of food will be served! No hotelier would ever do that, right? In F&B they would not and yet when it comes to Spas, they do that all the time!

3.) When it comes to the technical aspect of design, clients assume that the architects know. Yes, architects know about plumbing, A/C, ventilation, electricity, acoustics, etc., as it is applied to hotels, houses, office spaces and the like; but here again have no clue about how this applies to Spas. I have not seen a grease trap in any of their designs and in most Spas they are necessary. I have not seen one of the top architects make sure that the acoustic in treatment rooms block any sound above 35 decibels! In fact ignorance at that level is pathetic! For example, in Stark's design of the Spa at the Delano Hotel in Miami, treatment areas are separated by white curtains hanging from the ceiling. Sure, it looks great, but when one sneezes in these rooms, the entire Spa will yell “Gesundheit”!

4.) Not understanding the trends of the Spa world and more importantly not understanding how a Spa operates as a business is one of the most dramatic result of all this lack of knowledge. Most Spa designs use 50% sometimes more of the available space for locker rooms, when outside of gym-fitness type of Spas, clients prefers to changer and shower in the same room and not with other people! They have been told to separate dry and wet, the vestiges of the Thermal Spas of the past! Doing this will cost 30 to 40% more in operational cost and inconvenience guests by having them trek down corridors to go from one place to the other! And yes separating the services will save a couple thousand dollars in pipes, but will cost twice that much the first week of operation in linen washing expense! And by the way, locker rooms do not bring any income. So by increasing the size of treatment rooms by a portion of what would otherwise be allocated to locker rooms, one would have increased the revenue per square foot of the space.

5.) Many architects that are called upon to design Spas are often interior designers. Most are really good at decoration; some have their own signature on style and colors. For example, Putman's signature design is minimalist with a predominance of black and white. This might be great for a trendy restaurant, hotel or luxury shop; but not so great in a Spa as people who go to Spas react to the vibration of colors, not to the fashion design trends. Black and white do not stimulate the serenity and feelings of well-being that Spas try to create. So it may appeal to the onlooker, but it will make the Spa goer feel uncomfortable! What is more important?

6.) Controls are most important in any business and this is why the manager's office should be located where the Spa director will be able to see what is happening at the reception desk, not buried somewhere in the back!

I could go on and on; but rather than do this, I would like to invite those concerned to attend my seminar designed for architects, decorators and engineers interested in designing Spas in a logical way, which will be featured at the European Spa Summit in Paris during the Beyond Beauty show September 12 to 16 this year.

Monday, May 3, 2010

What kind of Spa is a Spa?

The more I travel and the more I speak and attend Spa events around the globe, the more I am reminded that the Spa World is so different from one country to another and from one culture to another! The only thing that seems similar is that everyone thinks that their vision is the only ONE, the right one! Well some might have a bit of tolerance for a slight variation to theirs, while others, like most Germans and some Eastern European countries, go as far as reneging the very idea that spas could be anything but their version of it!

Some years ago when I was on the board of directors of ISPA I was asked by the then president of the association to attend the European chapter’s annual conference. The chapter was delinquent financially and did not seem to think that it was important to balance its books! In typical European mentality, they assumed that some other entity should pick up the tab, in this a case the US organization! My mission was to make them understand that ISPA was not a government but a business and that it was up to the membership to provide the ways and means to generate funds to operate. This concept just was not understood! It boiled down to a cultural difference in perception between a socialist mentality and a capitalistic approach. So, the bottom line was that ISPA could not continue to financially support the European chapter.
But what brought an end to the European organization as an extension of the US association was altogether another reason: The German and Austrian contingent were trying to pass a law, using ISPA’s name, to make it mandatory worldwide that a Spa Director must be a Medical Doctor! I intervened as a representative of the Board of Directors to stop the motion from going forward and that, along with the other problems we had, finally ended the European representation of ISPA.

If I mention this incident, it is to illustrate the immense gap between cultures, not only of how things should function, but in the very essence of what a Spa is. ISPA claims to be the Voice of the Industry. Well it is the voice of what some in the US perceive a Spa to be through a Kentucky “filter”, which is hardly representative of the WORLD. It is this very nature of everyone wanting to be RIGHT and to consider that anyone who does not share their point of view must be wrong is what is at the core of most problems today. As an international consultant, I try to bring to my clients an international vision of the Industry as a business first and foremost. What is pivotal is recognizing indeed the differences in understanding of what a Spa is in general and what it needs to be in a specific case in point. This is why in all the years that I have been doing this (50 years now!) I have never done the same spa twice.

During my lectures worldwide I often use a comparison of spas to the restaurant business. I find that everywhere everyone understands the analogy and that what is true in the food business is true for spas. Obviously when one goes to a restaurant, one expects to consume food! But what kind? There are probably as many different types of food as there are spa treatments! Not everyone likes fish or Italian or steaks; therefore, they will not go to the type of restaurants that serve the kind of food they do not like, right? Of course! But when it comes to spas, the operators will tell you, “this is the only correct food you should have”…? Once this analogy has been understood with all the ramifications it carries, you can start making some sense of the whole thing!

So what is the bottom line? Simply that rather than trying to impose one concept over another, it is a lot simpler and of course more rewarding to find out the type of Spa that the anticipated clientele will appreciate! How? By doing a Market study; and after identifying the objective of the project, create the type of spa that will meet the targeted clientele’s expectations. This is logical of course, but unfortunately extremely rare, as clients and consultant alike prefer to copy what has been done before, not realizing that in most cases they are copying errors. The Industry is young, at least in its 21st century version, and there are a lot of sorcerer’s apprentices out there; but it will have to ponder and rethink what it should be, if it is to survive.

Friday, March 26, 2010


...The new buzz word in the spa industry? Not really; only for those who are discovering that wellbeing and by extension wellness could be related to what is being done in spas! History repeats itself but when it comes around again it might have a different spin. Spas originally were places where people went to improve their health: Thermal Kurs in Europe, Thalassotherapy, Onsen in Japan, etc. Today, in most cases, the reason people go to spas is to find an environment that will promote wellbeing, improve health and make people happier! Thus, today the experience is more important than the treatment; the ambiance found in a spa, the service, the attention that one gets and is looking for are the formulas for success. All of this in most cases is achieved without the participation of doctors or medical staff! Yes, because people who go to spas are not sick. They just want to feel better in their head, in their body, and for the most part do not want to be reminded of clinics or hospitals! Spas have an avocation of being the conduit to better health through prevention and improved lifestyles. Spas can respond quite adequately to the “ills” of our times: technology in communication, added to a cultural phobia of “touch”, is alienating society! The touch factor so necessary in life for human beings (preemies die if they are not touched!) is disappearing from everyday encounters. Corporations fearing lawsuits forbid their employees to touch or to interact naturally. Schools ostracize children who hug etc., creating a hostile environment that needs to be relieved. Wellness centers, as spas will be referred to in the future, will deliver those necessary ingredients to attain the balance that is the “secret” ingredient to better mental, physical, and spiritual health.

As we look at our American society today there are some evident deviances, some of which have reached epidemic proportions like obesity. As a result we are seeing the return of so called “fat farms” and the introduction of diet consultants, with a number of physical activities aimed at calorie burning. This is not new, of course, but the way it is done now is inspired from the “Made For T.V.” programs usually followed by celebrities! This fascination that the American public holds for celebrities of any kind is indicative of this fixation on fantasy: an attraction towards the “unreal” where one is so estranged from real life that they must live vicariously through what they perceive is the life of others. So as long as the messages they receive go in the direction of better wellbeing, wellness will be achieved! However, those who manipulate the puppets do not necessarily have the wellness of society in mind, but rather their own economic advancement or sometimes even political agendas! So how can you defend yourself from being manipulated in this way? Simply put: DO NOT COPY! Think for yourself, be logical and you will make a giant step towards wellness.

Without a doubt, the inclusion of yoga, Tai-chi and Chi-Kong reflects the East meets West trend, but is also reflective of people’s new perception that Health and Wellness can be obtained by indulging in far Eastern philosophies where energy dominates physiology. Another syndrome of American society seems to be the difficulty to cope with sexuality. Nothing is more natural than the urges of reproduction and sexual energy is considered paramount in most Asian cultures; but Americans have a strong Victorian heritage that forces them to struggle with sexual matters, which cause major psychological and even physical dysfunctions, much to the delight of the pharmaceutical industry! E. D in men and frigidity in women are the results of denial, stress and societal taboos.

There are numerous treatments in Ayurveda, some based on Traditional Chinese Medicine that can take care of these problems. Eventually those treatments will be available in Holistic spas and by all means that is definitely part of wellness and wellbeing.

Wellness also involves being in balance within oneself. Here we encounter the most quacks and charlatans who exploit the naiveté and weaknesses of character of their clients under the pretext of building self esteem! This translates into just lying to them, to make them feel better! One example is telling a morbidly obese young woman that “fat is beautiful”, that her mind is what is important, etc. All the while, she finds that her social life continues to be a disaster and that her health is compromised! The bottom line of this approach is that “lying” is a quick fix to many of today’s societal problems, and it is done at all levels: political, medical, educational, etc.; but in all cases, like a boomerang, lies will come back and bang you upside the head. The lies one is subject to can cause depression and often addiction to drugs or alcohol as a necessary means to escape reality! Wellness is the opposite: wellness needs to be anchored in truth, no mater how painful it might seem to be a first.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Check out Susie Ellis's Spa Blog

Dear Friends,

For more information on the Spa industry at large, I invite you to take a look at the following blog set up by Spa Finder Inc.'s president, Susie Ellis.

Political Correctness: A Cancer?

So, many have been calling and emailing me to express their satisfaction at hearing the truth and to encourage me to continue to be frank and honest and NOT politically correct. This brings me to address that issue. Political correctness is a “cancer” that is slowly destroying America philosophically and literally! The fact that so many people have sent me emails and have telephoned to manifest their approval to my last entry is reassuring; but at the same time, it is disturbing as they chose not to reply on the blog itself. Is it really because the “P.C.” virus has already contaminated them?

The American spirit exemplified by the pioneers who founded our great country based themselves on truth and frankness; and yet “Honest Abe” would probably not make it in today’s America! How did this deviance occur? It probably started with Dr. Spock, who preached against discipline in child rearing, something he acknowledged was a huge mistake at the end of his life (but not after messing up 2 generations of children!). Then there are those pseudo-intellectuals and psychologists who advocated the importance of developing self-esteem at the expense of truthfulness! Of course, there is no doubt that litigation lawyers hold a great deal of responsibility in the deterioration of honesty, forcing people, companies, associations, etc to lie so as not to be sued!!

Let me give you one example of this gangrenous political correctness. Telling a morbidly obese person that “fat is beautiful” is not only a lie; it falsely comforts those people into thinking that it is OK to be disgustingly obese while not telling them that it will shorten their life by some 20 years, prevent them from having a well balanced life, and have healthy relationships. It also hides the fact that it will even prevent them from getting good jobs, in spite of the anti-discrimination laws that have been put in place but which can easily be circumvented. We are told that about three fourths of Americans are overweight and one third of the population is obese (!); in fact it is probably an even greater number since the A.M.A. has just recently increased what defines overweight and obesity by 10% so as to perpetuate the lie and not make people feel bad! All the while, they are saying that obesity is an epidemic in the US. Go figure!
America is the land of free speech; it is part of the constitution. Yet, all of the sudden, it is no longer acceptable to tell the truth for fear of being sued or being “politically incorrect”?! In our industry, this “malaise” is rampant and to a great extent responsible for the lack of success, not to say failure, of many. I will, in future blog entries, go in depth in pointing out a number of aberrations; but for now, I will welcome the feedback from you, the readers.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Check out the Beyond Beauty Blog

Dear Friends,

I invite you to take a look at the Beyond Beauty Blog( for up-to-date news, trends, reports, and editorials on the Beauty and Wellness industries, including articles written by yours truly.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Why are Spas in top hotel chains NOT better?

I am constantly asked why the Spas at prestigious hotels like the Ritz-Carlton, the Four Seasons, Sofitel, etc…are very average (if not entirely mediocre) and why it is that their financial results range from poor to horrible. Very simply put, these companies know their hotel business and do an excellent job at managing and operating the hotel services, including the Food and Beverage part of their business; but when it comes to Spas they do not have a clue as to where to start!

As these large hotel chains are corporate-minded, they proceed to seek out experts in the field, which sounds good; but in order to identify who is knowledgeable and who is blowing smoke, you have to have a minimum of knowledge yourself…which they do not have. So they end up hiring B.S. artists who know how to play the corporate game and make them believe that they are experts! We have had in our training seminars some of the so-called top Spa directors from these companies. As a rule, since these seminars are custom designed to help these people do a better job in their position, we have them take a general knowledge test of about 50 questions. To this day not one got more than 23% on this test! Hardly what you would call an expert level!

In general, a lot of these people come from F&B, sometimes from the front office staff, and sometimes from the fitness industry; yet none of these fields have anything to do with what a Spa in a hotel should be! Their technical knowledge is at best textbook knowledge. In some cases, the candidate invests in schooling at an esthetics or a massage school in order to feature a professional license on their resume. However, many times they have never really practiced and therefore bring to the table only a vague idea of what these services are all about. As a result, they often carry into their jobs mostly erroneous notions of treatments and managerial skills which can be best described as Mom and Pop level, needless to say totally inadequate. Most of the time they will join an association such as ISPA thinking that the association will give them the clout of expertise that it pretends to have; and, there again, it is the blind leading the blind. These types of associations are mostly self-admiration societies who are happy to refer to the same ill-informed people to set the example and to provide guidance. ISPA claims to be the Voice of the Industry? There are some 300,000 workers in the Spa Industry in the U.S. and there are only 3000 members of the association? Not so impressive; only 1%!