Tuesday, 20 August 2019 05:04

The Global Wellness Institute and Global Wellness Summit: What They Mean to Our Industry

Written by   Amy Gardner, L.E., director of education at LightStim

Though often referred to as a trend, the quest for wellness is anything but a fleeting and fashionable shift. One can trace wellness driven practices back as far as 3,000 B.C. with Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine. Our industry has been moving in this direction for decades and, in recent years, the subjects of wellness and self-care have become ubiquitous. It seems the more consumers learn about a proactively healthy lifestyle and its documented beneficial effects on quality of life, the more they actively seek treatments and practices that will help them get there.


Several years ago, while doing research for a project, I came upon some industry statistics offered by The Global Wellness Institute. It was quickly apparent that the organization was thorough, focused, credible, and, most importantly, motivated by good. I have used those figures until very recently, when The Global Wellness Institute offered its latest report for 2017 (see graphic).

Gardner image

The Global Wellness Institute is a nonprofit organization with a mission to empower wellness worldwide by educating the public and private sectors about preventative health and wellness. Its research, programs, and initiatives have been instrumental in the growth of the $4.2 trillion wellness economy and in uniting the health and wellness industries.


In 2017, the Global Wellness Institute launched “The Wellness Moonshot: A World Free of Preventable Disease.” This initiative is a call to action to eradicate chronic, preventable disease worldwide by uniting the health and wellness industries. The Moonshot challenged everyone in the industry to go out and promote, educate, and further the advancement of wellness within their respective spheres of influence. Truth be told, this article was motivated by a profound belief in and support of this challenge.



Twelve years ago, the first gathering of spa and wellness industry executives took place in New York – an annual conference that has since become known as the Global Wellness Summit. According to Susie Ellis, chairman and CEO, “Things have changed over the past dozen years. Together, we moved from fragmented, independent entities to a collaborative group of spas and, now, to an entire global wellness ecosystem. By working together, we have become a recognized and valued force. There is a critical need for the work we do.”


The summit is held in a different and spectacular location every year. The most recent event took place in October 2018, in Cesena, a beautiful northern Italian city situated near the Adriatic Sea. The three-day conference presented a wide variety of topics, including “The Blue Zones,” “The Latest Innovation in Light-Based Technology,” and “Should Medicine and Wellness Get Married?” Like-minded delegates were both intrigued and encouraged to hear from world renowned authorities such as: Dr. Richard Carmona, former United States surgeon general and president of the Canyon Ranch Institute Board of Directors, Dr. Kenneth Pelletier, epigenetics expert and clinical professor at the University of California School of Medicine, and Dr. Nathan Bryan, adjunct professor at Baylor College of Medicine and international leader in molecular medicine and nitric oxide biochemistry. The summit is well known for drawing the most innovative and sought-after speakers from the worlds of wellness, academia, and business – all eager to contribute to the advancement of its mission.


The 2019 Global Wellness Summit will be held in Hong Kong, at the fabulous Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, and will usher in the next dozen years of joining together to shape the future. This 13th Summit will take place from October 15 to 17 and is sure to become another milestone.



It seems clear that most people who choose to work in the beauty and spa industries have a keen personal interest in health and wellness. We have been exposed to enough education to know that the choices we make absolutely affect not only the health of our skin cells, but also our bodies and minds. We are respectful of this message on a personal level, but are we doing all we can to extend this philosophy to clients? As it happens, the experts believe we are well positioned to do so. According to the Global Wellness Institute, “Spas are already providing wellness, even if they do not recognize it or claim it. The tradition of spa as a place for healing, renewal, relaxation, and feeling well positions the spa industry as one of the most logical sectors to take advantage of (and help lead) the wellness movement.”


Consumers announce what is important to them through the way in which they spend, and they are speaking very clearly with the figures seen in the Global Wellness Institute reports. They are revealing that not only are they determined to play a more proactive and preventive role in their health, they are also willing to invest in it. They recognize that good health is not entirely about choosing kale over French fries and the treadmill over the couch; it is also about rejuvenation, relaxation, and self-care – something that we in our industry know a great deal about. It is critical that we develop this aspect of our businesses as awareness and interest among consumers continues to grow. It is just a matter of identifying appropriate treatments and services and promoting the message in a clear and effective way.



Industry publications, tradeshows, and educational events can be helpful in uncovering wellness-related treatments that help grow business and help clients expand their awareness of opportunities to pursue better health through self-care. Another source of information is the Global Wellness Institute’s wellnessevidence.com, the first website that provides direct access to the world of medical evidence for the most common wellness approaches – whether aromatherapy, manual lymph drainage, music therapy, or meditation. Depending upon your licensure, some of these treatments may be within your scope and some may not. If not, you may want to consider building a referral network.


According to industry leaders, some of the most promising trends and developments for 2019 are CBD, red-light therapy, IV drips, and meditation. What is essential to keep in mind is that however you choose to respond as a business, authenticity is requisite. Being around you and your staff should be just as relaxing and restorative as any spa treatment.



“Deirdre Strunk of Canyon Ranch on the challenges spas will face in 2019.” Spa Executive. Jan 2019. https://spaexecutive.com/2019/01/03/deirdre-strunk-of-canyon-ranch-on-the-challenges-spas-will-face-in-2019.

“Kick off 2019 with These 4 Wellness Trends.” SpaFinder. Dec 2018. https://www.spafinder.com/blog/health-and-well-being/kick-off-2019-with-these-4-wellness-trends.

 “Spas and the Global Wellness Market: Synergies and Opportunities.” Prepared by SRI International for the Global Spa Summit, May 2010.

 “The Top Wellness Trends of 2019 Are Here!” Well + Good. https://www.wellandgood.com/fitness-wellness-trends.

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August 2022

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