The conference kicked off Monday morning with an address from dynamic ISPA Chairman Ella Stimpson, spa director of Wynn Resorts in Las Vegas. Stimpson reported on some of the organization’s accomplishments this year, highlighted a new consumer study (just released and made available to ISPA members) highlighting positive spa-going trends across the country, and discussed various liaison opportunities between spas and the media.
Stimpson then introduced this year’s ISPA Visionary Award Winner—a very deserving Susie Ellis of SpaFinder as well as the Global Spa & Wellness Summit. Ellis has single-handedly done an enormous amount to raise the profile of spas, and spa and media pros the world round anxiously await her insightful annual trend reports at the start of each year. Upon accepting her award, Ellis said, “I can’t believe I’m getting an award for doing something that I love doing every day.” She proceeded to thank spa industry pioneer Deborah Szekely, who gave Susie her start in the spa business at Golden Door Spa many years ago, as well as ISPA and its leadership staff. Last but not least, she thanked husband Pete Ellis for being a totally supportive spouse and enabling her to focus on her work.