Global Spa & Wellness Summit Unveils 2012 Conference Agenda

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Unconventional program designed to ignite industry innovation: from the latest in telomere or “brain” science, to creativity training

Aspen, the place, is a perfect metaphor for what we aim to accomplish this year: to present a bracing, fresh, pioneering ‘wild west’ of new ideas, and help industry leaders climb out of the rut of the ‘already did that,’ and see things anew

The Global Spa & Wellness Summit (GSWS) today unveiled the keynote speaker line-up and daily programming for its conference being held in Aspen, Colorado from June 3-6, 2012. Under the 2012 theme of “Innovation through Imagination,” the three days of presentations and discussions will represent a dramatic departure from “the industry conference as usual.” Rather than rehashing the state of the market or established best practices, attendees will hear from thought-leaders about the cultural, technological and medical innovations poised to transform our world, and that could spark innovations within the spa and wellness industry. Additionally, delegates will not just passively learn; top Fortune 500 consultants and interactive workshops will teach them how to unlock creative processes and “get innovation done” for their own businesses.

And, if the various sectors comprising the health/wellness industry (spa, fitness, medicine, policy, technology, etc.) have tended to exist in isolated “silos,” this year’s agenda will open up a vibrant exchange of ideas between them - as evidenced not only by the Summit’s collaboration with the world-renowned think-tank, the Aspen Institute, but also by the full slate of medical, technology and policy heavy-hitters who will share key innovations emerging from their corners - whether the latest breakthroughs in brain or telomere science - or insight into how Disney’s Imagineers accomplish their magic.

“Aspen, the place, is a perfect metaphor for what we aim to accomplish this year: to present a bracing, fresh, pioneering ‘wild west’ of new ideas, and help industry leaders climb out of the rut of the ‘already did that,’ and see things anew, globally and from on high,” said Philippe Bourguignon, co-Chair of the 2012 Summit agenda. “Spa and wellness businesses that want to own the future must engage their imaginations and innovate, and we all need to get outside our narrow ‘industry boxes’ to accomplish that. So, we plan to check what we already know at the door this June, to take a deep dive into what our industry most direly needs right now: true creativity and imagination.”

While the agenda develops right up until the conference, a near-final schedule can be found here:

Day 1: Innovation – High profile keynotes from outside the spa and wellness industries explore new processes and concepts of “innovation.”

  •     Philippe Bourguignon, Vice Chairman, Revolution Places, “The Global Landscape: Why We Need Innovation through Imagination NOW.”
  •     Dr. Richard Carmona, 17th Surgeon General of the U.S. & Vice Chairman, Canyon Ranch, “Pursuit of Global Health and Wellness: The Value Proposition of the Future.”
  •     John Kao, Famed expert and author on enterprise innovation, “Jamming: The Art of Getting Innovation Done.” A creative presentation (using jazz piano) demonstrating how to practically unlock the innovation process.
  •     The Aspen Institute Health Innovation Project, “Barriers to Innovation and Promoting Innovation.” Featuring Dr. Basit Chaudhry (Medical and Research Director, IBM), Dr. Victor Dzau (Chancellor, Duke Medical Center), with Dr. Kavita Patel (managing director, Brookings Institute’s Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform).
  •     Ted Souder, Head of Industry-Retail, Google. “Let’s Talk About Cutting-Edge Technology and What’s Around the Corner.”

Day 2: Imagination:

  •     Dr. Daniel Friedland, Medical Director, Barney & Barney & Founder & CEO, SuperSmartHealth,“Let’s Neurovate.” The latest in brain science research and the implications for the spa/wellness industries.
  •     Shelley Berc, Founder & Alejandro Fogel, Director, The Creativity Workshop, “Creating an Atmosphere that Fosters Innovation and Creativity in Your Company.”
  •     Dr. Elissa Epel, Co-Founder (with Nobel Laureate in Medicine, Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn) of Telome Health, “Telomeres: The New Frontier.” The latest from telomere science and its implications for wellness. Telomere length is emerging as one of the best markers of age-related disease risk, and appears to be positively impacted by healthy behaviors like stress-reduction and exercise.
  •     Peter Rummell, Former Chairman, Disney Imagineering & current Chairman, the Urban Land Institute, “Managing the Creative Process.”
  •     Jose Maria Figueres-Olsen, Former President of Costa Rica, newly announced President of the Carbon War Room, and international leader in achieving sustainable development.
  •     Elizabeth Stephenson, Partner, global management consulting firm, McKinsey & Company, “The 5 Pillars of Innovation.”
  •     Philippe Bourguignon & Peter Rummell, “Imagining the Healthy Town of the Future.”
  •     2012 Student Challenge Competition: Cornell University, Penn State University, University of Denver and University of Houston students showcase designs for their “innovative, profitable spa of the future.” Moderators: Sue Harmsworth, CEO & Founder, ESPA International and Mary Tabacchi, PhD, Professor, Cornell University.

Day 3: The Industry Unleashed! Disruptive, innovative developments across the medical, wellness and spa fronts:

  •     Mariel Hemingway, Academy Award-nominated actress & wellness advocate, “Spas, Wellness and Mental Health.”
  •     Jan Frietag, SVP, Smith Travel Research presents the latest spa industry figures (first quarter, 2012). Andrea Foster, Vice President, PKF Consulting presents new research: “Our Travelers’ Health: A Matter of Life and Death.”
  •     Katherine Johnston, Senior Economist, SRI International, shares findings from the 2012 Summit research project, “Spa Management Workforce & Education: Addressing Market Gaps.”
  •     Dr. Gary Schwartz, Professor, Psychology, Medicine, Neurology, Psychiatry and Surgery; Director for the Laboratory for Advances in Consciousness & Health, University of Arizona, “The Science of Energy Health: Embracing Controversy.”
  •     Panel: Shaking Things Up a Bit. Overview, Dr. Andrew Weil, Integrative Medicine Thought-Leader, with Jessica Alquist on “Willpower” (Researcher, Florida State University; associate of Dr. Roy Baumeister, author of Willpower) and Jeremy McCarthy on “Happiness” (Director, Global Spa Development & Operations, Starwood Hotels & Resorts).
  •     Deborah Szekely, Founder, Rancho La Puerta and The Golden Door, “If I Was 18 Again.”

Innovative Experiences: The focus on imagination carries over into the unofficial agenda of social and learning experiences on offer: from optional creativity workshops – to downtime spent in the Summit’s “imagination play areas” or “Innovation Bookstore” – to unusual gala events like a dine-around-Aspen night, or dinner and dancing to a unique live band, “He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister,” atop Aspen Mountain (reached by gondola).

The 250+ delegates from 40 nations expected can also take part in special pre- and post-Summit experiences, including a heavily discounted retreat at the award-winning Miraval Resort & Spa in Tucson, Arizona, or the “Experience Aspen Day” (June 3rd) or Colorado Mineral Springs Tour (June 7th). For info on these opportunities visit:

To register, or to learn more about attending or sponsoring the GSWS:

Note to Editors:

About the Summit: The Global Spa & Wellness Summit (GSWS) is an annual event that attracts executives and leaders from around the world with an interest in advancing the spa and wellness industries. Delegates from diverse sectors, including the hospitality, tourism, finance, medical, real estate, manufacturing, technology, consulting and product industries, attend this intimate, invitation-only gathering. The Summit has been responsible for some of the most important recent spa industry research, including the “Global Spa Economy Report” and “Spas and the Global Wellness Market” (conducted by SRI International) - and recently launched the research tool,, the world’s first online portal to the medical evidence for common spa/wellness therapies. The GSWS was honored as "Spa Event of the Year" for 2009, 2010 and 2011 by AsiaSpa magazine’s awards program.

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Beth McGroarty
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