The Magazine for spa and wellness in Mexico, the Caribbean and Latin America​

Global Wellness Summit 2019 Singapore

The Global Wellness Summit for 2019 was held in Singapore, where a group of more than 500 industry leaders gathered.

An impressive Chinese Dragon performance opened the summit as vibrant shades of red brought the stage to life. Susie Ellis reminisced about the inception of the summit, the evolution of the agenda and growth of the event and its importance globally.

Research has defined and quantified the industry and its global expansion where just over a decade ago there was none. The GWI has now been invited to participate in the World Economic Forum, a huge achievement; “Mission accomplished” Ellis states, “wellness has become a global force, what’s next?”

Ellis posed some challenges to the industry:

• We need to do a better job of emphasizing sustainability, let’s add the words ‘and planet’ when talking about personal wellness

• Wellness must be for all

• Mental wellness is extremely important

• Commit to workplace wellbeing in all of our companies

• Strengthen our resolve, commit to our values

The Global Wellness Economy is now valued at 4.5 trillion USD

Katherine Johnston and Ophelia Yeung presented new research on staying well and healthy – we need to move our bodies and be physically active throughout our lives. The iconic wellness economy chart has been redefined and ‘fitness and mind-body’ has been replaced with ‘physical activity’.

The updated chart now shows that the global wellness economy is valued at 4.5 trillion USD. The Global physical activity economy is a 828 billion USD market (2018).

A brief insight into the 2020 trends

1. The circadian traveler

2. Slow wellness, flying less, staying grounded, walking

3. The urban wellness resort is sky-rising

4. Switching on the belief mechanism – spiritual seekers

5. Forest everything

6. The future is female, a fierce feminist wellness

7. Aging will be rebranded at cool

8. The wellness sabbatical; extended wellness travel

Sustainability: Part of Every Conversation

Finally, the focus has shifted towards sustainability – in spas, hotels and resorts, clothing and fashion, architecture and design, wellness travel and tech.

Bill Bensley, of Bensley Architecture, has written a set of environmental hotel design standards that can help the thousands of hotels due to be built to reduce their impact on the environment. At one location, a bottling plant was set up to eliminate single-use plastic bottles, the investment was paid back in just 1.2 years, making good business sense and reducing plastic waste!

Dervla Louli of Compare Retreats surveyed their top 500 clients and found that sustainability was the strongest motivating factor when booking. Jessica Jesse of BudhaGirl presented her new concept, LANA, Look Around Not Ahead. As fashion is cyclical, what can we reuse and repurpose? Noel Asmar explains, “When you buy purpose-driven fashion, you seldom throw it away.” The waste caused by fashion is tremendous – just in Hong Kong alone, 370 tonnes of textile waste goes into landfills each day.

It’s time to take sustainability seriously, let’s all consider this with each business decision we make!

Purpose and Passion

Does purpose make good business sense? Patricia Dwyer, The Purpose Business, asks how many of us are inspired and to think about our vision and our ‘why’ in business. In the years to come the market will demand that companies adhere to socially responsible guidelines – so start now and ensure you stay ahead. Do you need to check or update your company vision? If it can be understood by a 7-year-old, you’re on the right track, if not, keep working!

Frederick Chavalit Tsao, OCTAVE Institute, explained that purpose and passion must be at the core of good business in the new era of sustainable development and conscious capitalism. Governments are now appointing happiness ministers and allocating wellness budgets but without clearly defined goals and agendas can they affect real change?

Wellness is BIG business!

The sale of MindBody this year, back to a private investor for 1.9 billion USD (60% higher than its value on the NASDAQ), certainly made the industry sit up and take notice. Susie Ellis interviewed Rick Stollmeyer, asking him to share his insight into the success of the online scheduling platform which caters to boutique wellness and fitness studios and their clients across the globe. The fact that investors are dedicating funds of this size to purchase innovative wellness businesses shows that the future potential of the industry is strong and expansion is expected to continue.

In a second interview on the main stage, Nancy Davis spoke with Neil Jacobs about the acquisition of Six Senses Hotels and Resorts, the wellness-focused brand developed largely by Neil Jacobs and Anna Bjurstam. Sold for 300 million USD, the brand included no physical property. Six Senses have achieved success and recognition by maintaining their principles and ensuring their brand partners align with their vision and mission. This includes a clause in their contract which obliges partners adhere to their sustainable practices in addition to dedicating half a percent of total revenue toward sustainable initiatives.

Optimize your Body

The hot topic between those traveling from the Americas and Europe as we all arrived in Singapore was Timeshifter. This app , built to help prevent jet lag, creates a personalized plan based on your chronotype (are you an early bird or a night owl?), regular sleep patterns and travel plans. Using a combination of light, dark, staying awake, napping and caffeine and melatonin, should you wish to include them, your plan will direct you to start adjusting your circadian clock up to three days prior to setting off. The result? I arrived in Asia feeling a little tired from the journey but slept well through every night and woke feeling refreshed each day. Many experienced the same revolutionary results allowing us to avoid jet lag during the first few days in Asia. Those who didn’t have such success with the app likely didn’t adhere to the instructions to see or avoid light at the correct times – exposure to light is the single most important factor in resetting our circadian rhythm. Mickey Beyer-Clausen of Timeshifter explained that their research has also led them to work with elite athletes and track peak performance with the hope of bringing this functionality to the public via the app in the future.

Naveen Jain, of Viome, gave an energetic speech about his obsession – making disease optional. In line with the GWI moonshot, Jain’s company believes that we should all have the information to enable us to choose whether or not we get sick with a preventable disease. Having brought the cost of his gut health check down from $3000 use to just $149 use he explains that if the healthcare (or sick care) system won’t evolve to cure disease, it’s up to entrepreneurial leaders to take the helm. Learn what the 40 trillion microbes in your gut are doing and determine the diet that’s best for your body right now. Bear in mind though, this may change in 3-6 months. Like servicing your car, this practice of checking your gut health can provide valuable feedback helping to reduce inflammation, the root cause of disease and thereby preventing many symptoms from weight gain, insulin sensitivity, poor sleep, acne and anxiety.

Spirituality, Wellness and Spa

In some regions, the spa and wellness industry has shied away from spirituality and therapies focussing on energetic practices. Luckily in our region of Mesoamerica, South America and the Caribbean this has been an integral part of our success. Embracing the heritage of cultures such as the Maya, Aztec and Inca, has brought indigenous experiences to guests visiting the region allowing them unique experiences not found elsewhere.

Anna Bjurstam recounted her experience at age fourteen where she essentially died and was brought back to life, leading to her personal journey with spirituality. She studied energy medicine in a variety of modalities and also became and shaman. Anna openly shared the fact that she has participated in ayahuasca ceremonies and sampled psilocybin (the compound found in magic mushrooms). This is a trend growing rapidly in popularity as wellness tourists seek connection on an energetic and transformative level.

Professor Martin Palmer stated that over eighty percent of the world’s population still follows a faith. He advised that spirituality must be aligned with wellness and that our industry must not be afraid to explore it further. He invited us to imagine that we are all here to be a blessing, what would you do?

Aging is all the Rage

David Henry Stewart, Founder of Ageist, shares stories about a powerful and significant sector of the population. This generation controls 15 trillion in assets and income. Why are brands and media writing them off as insignificant? Motivated by the fact that no one was representing this age group correctly, Stewart redefines the generation of ‘boomers’ explaining that life 2.0 starts at 50.

Wellness features heavily on the website weareageist.com; from eye health to the use of CBD and cannabis, diet and nutritional supplements to skin treatments and saunas. “Wellness has a different meaning at age 60 than it does at age 30, when you’re 60 it’s about staying alive!” explains Stewart. With research always backed by science, the site appeals to intellectuals looking for definitive answers.

Irrelevance ranked as a greater fear than death to the audience of Ageist, to stay relevant, you need to stay up to date with culture. Ageist keeps people up to date with content that is culturally relevant and with 50% of its readers under 50 years old, they are filling the needs of a younger generation looking for role models. The representation of old people with white hair, walking on the beach is not real, Stewart displayed pictures from the dating app Tinder, to show what people aged 50-60+ really look like! In this demographic, women are leading the way! Women over 50 are starting new and successful businesses at every turn. The future will be female-led, Stewart says.

Aging doesn’t need to be something to fear, according to Dave McCaughan, of Bibliosexual, who would like people to be referred to as ‘new life builders’. These individuals tend to have the best outlook on life, they are starting new businesses and tackling challenges.

Wellness woven into the agenda

While the GWS always offers elements of wellness during the summit, such as moments of reflection and appreciation during the presentations, yoga or beach walk in the morning, meditation with Deepak Chopra for example, this year’s agenda really did have wellness woven into it. The evening activities on day one included a silent disco or a gong bath. Luckily for us the gong back was brought back by popular demand with two additional sessions in the evening of day two. The gong bath Also featured in the agenda as we meditated together as a group. The morning activities included yoga and tai chi and breaks throughout the day allowed ample time for meaningful connections and conversations while not feeling too rushed.

The food served at the Grand Hyatt was exceptional in quality and flavor with healthy options such as berries, nuts and teas in addition to more typical carb-rich cookies and sweet treats. The vegan food was some of the best I have ever tasted with a vegan cheese and a vegan curry that impressed even the biggest skeptics of vegan food. The team at the Grand Hyatt were available to help at every turn and looked after every detail of the conference from start to finish as the agenda of activities flowed seamlessly.


By Sara Jones, Editor

Author: Fabiola