Dr. Bodeker, Part 2 –

The Global Spa Culture -

THE SPAS OF THE FUTURE

“The spa industry is currently the fastest growing segment of the hospitality and leisure industry with revenues exceeding those from amusement parks, box office receipts, vacation ownership gross sales and ski resort ticket sales.” 

This is the second in a series of blogs based on conversations between Dr. Gerry Bodeker and Paul Penders

Part 1 – People We Admire…Dr Gerry Bodeker (see Paul Penders Blog here: 

http://www.paulpenders.com/ppblog/?p=16213 )

Part 2 -- The Global Spa Culture

Part 3 – “Ramuan” -- Malay Traditions for Health and Beauty (to come)

When you go on a holiday, what kind of experience do you want? It used to be a choice between the mountains and the beach but nowadays you can choose to luxuriate at a spa. You can be primped and pampered and return to your daily life refreshed.

For young (and older) people searching for a job, new opportunities are opening up in the spa industry and helping others feel great can be a rewarding career choice.


Dr. Gerard Bodeker of Oxford University and Columbia University, scholar and expert on the global spa industry, recently visited Langkawi. Paul Penders arranged a rare opportunity for me to listen in on their conversation.

“The Spa world  is about encompassing lifestyle approaches and personal journeys. The communes of the 60’s are being repositioned as retreats and intensives,” Dr. Bodeker says.

Seated outdoors in Dr Ghani’s lovely home over afternoon tea, Dr. Gerry Bodeker and Paul Penders discussed the global spa industry – and how Paul Penders products are now being used by spas throughout the world.

Understanding the Global  Spa Industry by Dr. Bodeker has become the textbook for study of the business dimensions of the spa industry. Spas are now “the institutional face of the Wellness industry.” He lists herbal approaches, touch, aroma, nutritional offerings, integrated exercise. “Only spas offer all of those – yoga, nutrition, massage…” 

Leaders from this trillion dollar industry are focused on imagining the “spa of the future.” Healthy lifestyle experiences are now a major trend in international travel and tourism. Luxury resorts have realized that travelers, especially the wealthy elite, want more than just a massage and a comfortable bed.  A holiday should be restorative. Vacationers want to return to their daily lives feeling both healthy and fit. The younger, high end customer also demands something new that benefits their health and lifestyle.

Many spas now offer retreats with courses in diet, exercise, massage, meditation, etc.  Dr. Bodeker explains, “If I can learn and take something home; if I can change direction to something more life-supporting, that’s the kind of place I want to go.” It is a new movement in the hospitality and tourism industry that looks to be the wave of the future.

Dr. Bodeker was enroute to the Mandarin Oriental in Chiang Mai, Thailand, which he describes as “a very beautiful resort, very renowned.” The website for their “Dheva Spa” calls it “Thailand's first world-class destination spa is unique in both concept and design; created under the auspices of health specialists and inspired by an ancient Mandalay Palace.”  It is one of the few spas that also offers a spa training academy. His stay coincides with a one–week silent meditation program, ayurvedic programs, and a visit by a yoga master.

In earlier days, communes and utopian groups fulfilled the needs for political, social, cultural, and educational lifestyles and exploratory journeys. Now, wellness retreats and resorts, says Dr. Bodeker, are fulfilling that need and finding a surprising number of customers.

Sociologists talk about how small groups start and reset everything. Dr. Bodeker mentions the “Cultural Creatives” defined as the strange outsiders -- the fringe -- who come up with exciting new ideas which gain acceptance over time. Like the hippies in 60’s and 70’s, whose ideas are now mainstream. Doctors and scientists now support such “Aquarian Age” ideas as meditation, aromatherapy, and holistic healing.

What is “elitist” now is creating models for the future. Dr. Bodeker predicts the “wellness” approach will become part of mainstream healthcare by the next generation. A variety of cutting edge modalities are being pioneered now at spas and retreats all over the world. He believes that recognition of the importance of wellness will come.

When people start to realize that a truly healthy lifestyle is possible – with a little help from professional spas -- it will be thanks to the handful of real, credible authorities like Dr. Bodeker. What is now marginall is on its way to becoming mainstream.

Recommended Reading:

Understanding the Global Spa Industry: Spa Management edited by Dr. Bodeker with Marc Cohen, “is the first book to examine management practices in this industry and offers a groundbreaking and comprehensive approach to global spa management, covering everything from the beginnings of the industry through to contemporary management and social and ethical issues.”

Understanding the Global Spa Industry: Spa Management, Gerry Bodeker (Editor), Marc Cohen MBB S PhD (TCM) (Editor), Butterworth-Heinemann (paperback - Taylor & Francis, July 28, 2008), UK, pp. 496. ISBN-10: 075068464X  ISBN-13: 978-0750684644

Available as a downloadable (hardcover) e-book from Tower Books at: http://www.tower.com/understanding-global-spa-industry-management-gerard-bodeker-hardcover/wapi/111877612#product_details

Number of Pages: 480

ISBN: 075068464X

WAPI (Tower ID): 111877612