Global Spa Summit's 2011 Student Challenge Winners Announced

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The Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s New Franchise Concept - the Modular, Mobile “Yi Spa” - Grabs Top Prize

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This year the challenge was to create a spa business concept that is not only innovative and aesthetically pleasing, but completely feasible and profitable.

The Global Spa Summit (GSS), the premier event for the spa and wellness industries, formally announced the winners of its third annual “Student Challenge” competition today. This year the challenge was to create a spa business concept that is not only innovative and aesthetically pleasing, but completely feasible and structured for profitability.

With the Summit traveling to Asia for the first time, four leading universities from across the region were selected to compete. Student teams from business or hospitality management programs developed the conceptual and financial details of their spa project and collaborated with an assigned professional architect to help realize their designs. Then, on May 17-18 at the Summit in Bali, Indonesia, the student team that had won their individual university’s competition presented their concept before a distinguished panel of judges and the Summit delegation, competing for cash prizes and global industry recognition.

The VIP judging panel was comprised of Sharilyn Abbajay (VP, Global Spa and Retail, Marriott International, U.S.), Filip Boyen (COO, Orient Express, U.K.), Christopher Norton (Chair, Global Spa Task Force, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, France), Niamh O’Connell (VP, Spa Operations, Hyatt Hotels, U.S.) and Krip Rojanastien, (Owner, ChivaSom, Thailand). The 2011 Student Challenge coordinators were GSS Board Members Sue Harmsworth (CEO & Founder, ESPA International) and Mary Tabacchi (PhD, Professor, Cornell University of Hotel Administration).

“Each competing project this year was executed at such an extraordinarily high level, combining real creativity with detailed business plans and financial analyses,” noted Mary Tabacchi. “The judges deliberated long and hard, praising every project, and the competition has never been so close.”

2011 Student Challenge Winners:

The student presentations/project images are available at:

1st Place: The Hong Kong Polytechnic University School of Hotel and Tourism Management. ($1000USD prize)
Student team: Tommy Gu, Kitsun Lau, Joyce Ng and Carol Zhang
Faculty Advisors: Dr. Ada Lo and Dr. Xiao Qu
Partner Architect: J Lee Rofkind of Hong Kong-based BUZ Design Consultants

Spa Concept: Yi Spa
Yi Spa represents an entirely new spa franchise business model (a hot topic at the 2011 Summit), targeting stressed-out, time-crunched urban spa-goers. It’s comprised of two components: a fixed-locale day spa and “Yi Spa on the Go,” a mobile spa van that travels to central business districts on weekdays and to beaches, parks, etc. on weekends/holidays. Modularity, adaptability and mobility are Yi Spa’s hallmarks and guarantors of profitability. For instance, the day spa features movable cubicles, where the lightweight, soundproof, bamboo-covered walls are easily expanded into spa suites or retracted to provide more treatment rooms - and the spa is easily dismantled and reconstructed if a change of locale is needed.

2nd place: The Chinese University of Hong Kong ($500USD prize) Partner Architect: Angelene Chan, Director, Singapore-based DP Architects

Spa Concept: SPArmony
SPArmony marries ancient Traditional Chinese Medicine with a strategically positioned, modern, 4-star hotel spa concept. Important components of the concept: design that “brings the outside in” (utilizing natural materials like bamboo) and diverse strategies (such as yield management) to reduce spa operations, design, human resources and marketing costs.

3rd place (Tie): Gadjah Mada University (Indonesia) ($250USD prize) Partner Architect: Jeffrey Wilkes, Design Wilkes, Malaysia

Spa Concept: Spice of Life Spa
Every aspect of the “Spice of Life” spa concept reflects Indonesia’s indigenous culture and its heritage as the Spice Islands: from the menu featuring treatments/products from across the Indonesian archipelago – to the “integrated tropical-Balinese architecture” – to the local hiring policies.

3rd place (Tie): Cornell Nanyang Institute of Hospitality Management (Singapore) ($250USD prize) Partner Designer: Chris Singer, WATG, Singapore

Spa Concept: théaven
Part chic tea lounge, part contemporary, social spa, the “théaven” concept invites customers to belong, hang out and relax together. The overriding focus is new ways to drive customer engagement through the “social,” whether that’s achieved through social media, its versatile design or its innovative use of technology.

“The Student Challenge has quickly established itself as a crucial and popular component of each Summit,” noted Tabacchi. “The top-level executive delegates really look forward to hearing the fresh new ideas from the students, and this dialogue between today’s and tomorrow’s industry leaders is absolutely invaluable.”

For more information, contact: Beth McGoarty, +1 213 300 0107 or beth (at) rbicom (dot) com

About Global Spa Summit: The Global Spa Summit (GSS) is an annual event that attracts executives and leaders from around the world with an interest in the spa and wellness industries. Delegates from diverse sectors including hospitality, tourism, finance, medicine, real estate, manufacturing, technology, consulting, product and other related industries attend this intimate, invitation-only gathering focused on advancing the spa and wellness sectors. The Summit has been responsible for some of the most important recent spa industry research, including the landmark “Global Spa Economy Report” and “Spas and the Global Wellness Market: Synergies and Opportunities” (both conducted by SRI International). The GSS was honored as the "Spa Event of the Year" for both 2009 and 2010 by AsiaSpa magazine’s awards program.


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