Global Spa & Wellness Summit Announces Focus, and Participating Universities, for Its Fifth Annual “Student Challenge”

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Three leading Indian universities will compete to design a spa/wellness concept that encompasses authentic Indian culture, but is viable for global roll-out.

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The focus of this year’s challenge is perfect: India, with so many ancient, effective wellness approaches has so much to offer the rest of the world, and these students will apply their business savvy to freshly imagine creative, new concepts.

The Global Spa and Wellness Summit (GSWS) today announced the unique focus, and participating universities, for its 2013 Student Challenge. While the parameters for each Student Challenge vary each year, it always involves students from major academic institutions competing to create “the spa and wellness concepts of the future.”

With the Summit headed to New Delhi, India in 2013 (Oct. 5-7), this year’s contest involves three top Indian universities – the Institute of Hotel Management, Aurangabad (IHM-A); the School of Management, University of Delhi; and the Indian School of Business – squaring off to design a new spa or wellness concept that integrates authentic Indian culture, but that can also be rolled out globally.

“The focus of this year’s challenge is perfect: India, with so many ancient, effective wellness approaches has so much to offer the rest of the world, and these students will apply their business savvy to freshly imagine creative, new concepts,” said Mary Tabacchi, PhD, professor, Cornell University of Hotel Administration and co-director of the Challenge.

How the Challenge Works:
Students first compete against one another at their respective institutions. Then, as each winning team (overseen by their faculty director) develops the conceptual and financial details of their project, they’re paired with a high-profile professional architect that collaborates with the students to fulfill their designs. The University of Delhi team is working with Prosenjit Banerjee, Associate Principal Architect of Urban Space Consultants in India. The Institute of Hotel Management is assisted by Jeffrey A. Wilkes, Principal, Design Wilkes of Malaysia. And the Indian School of Business is matched to Madhav Raman, Principal Designer, Anagram Architects of India.

On October 6, the three teams present their concepts to the Summit delegation and a VIP panel of judges, who are top executives from each sponsoring company of the 2013 Student Challenge.

The judges are:
Sheila McCann, General Manager, Chiva-Som
Simon Casson, Regional Vice President, General Manager, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts
Sammy Gharieni, Founder, The Gharieni Group
Adrian Egger, Managing Director, Spa Division, Klafs Group
Filip Boyen, Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, Orient-Express Hotels, Ltd.

The GSWS grants all participating students and faculty members complimentary registration to the Summit, along with a travel and accommodations stipend. Competitors are invited to attend all sessions as "student delegates," bringing their own valuable, next-generation insights to the conference.

The students compete for cash prizes (top prize is $1,000), and winning projects will be published internationally and to the industry.

“Given India’s rich spa and wellness heritage, we’re excited to see what modern twists these students will put on authentic Indian wellness traditions, and which concepts could be most practically and profitably rolled out worldwide,” said Susan Harmsworth, CEO & founder, ESPA International and 2013 Challenge co-chair. “And given the eminent team of judges and architects with a wealth of experience, the 2013 Challenge promises to be a lively event.”

2013 Sponsors: This annual contest to discover and support the future leaders of the spa/wellness industry was made possible by the following generous industry sponsors:

Chiva-Som: Located in Hua Hin, Thailand, Chiva-Som is widely regarded as one of the best destination spas in the world, and renowned for fusing Eastern philosophies with Western diagnostic skill. The resort has received numerous accolades, including "Top 5 Best Overseas Spa Retreats" and "The World's Top 25 Spas," Condé Nast Traveler Readers' Spa Awards 2011.

Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts: At Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, spas are a top priority, and more than 60 new properties with luxury spas are slated to open in the next decade. Four Seasons Spas are consistently recognized with prestigious, global industry awards, including multiple wins in 2011 by Travel + Leisure magazine and Condé Nast Traveler.

The Gharieni Group: A leading German manufacturer of high-end spa and beauty beds and exclusive furniture and equipment, Gharieni is well known for its innovation. With branches in southern Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and France, the company exports to more than 55 countries worldwide.

Klafs: Founded over 80 years ago, German-based KLAFS group is a world leader in the field of sauna, wellness and spa. The company’s customers span hotels and resorts, health clubs, thermal spas, cruise ships and private customers. KLAFS is one of the only companies with its own development and production facility to create the highest-quality, individually designed spa equipment.

Orient-Express Hotels, Ltd.: A luxury hotel company and adventure travel operator that seeks to deliver memorable experiences that express each destination's authentic culture. Founded in 1976, the company recreated the celebrated Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, linking London, Paris, Venice and other European cities. Today the brand embraces 46 hotel, cruise and luxury rail businesses in 22 countries, as well as six luxury tourist trains, three river cruise operations and one of New York’s iconic restaurants.

The 2013 GSWS is officially sold out. To learn more about the conference, visit:

About the Summit: The Global Spa & Wellness Summit (GSWS) is an international organization representing senior executives and leaders from over 40 countries, joined by a common interest to drive economic development and understanding of the spa and wellness industries. Delegates from diverse sectors, including hospitality, tourism, health and wellness, beauty, finance, medical, real estate, manufacturing, and technology, attend the organization’s annual Summit, which is held in a different host country each year. After just seven years, the GSWS is now considered the leading global research and educational resource for the $1.9 trillion spa and wellness industry. It is known for introducing major industry initiatives such as, the world’s first online portal to the medical evidence behind common spa and wellness therapies. For more information, visit

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