Marjorie Woollacott

[Image: Marjorie Woollacott, courtesy of Healing Summit]

Although the spa business has matured into a global industry with all of the business practices that go with it, many of us have been around long enough to remember when our livelihood was considered a bit of hocus pocus. The ability to touch people, both literally and figuratively, while outside typical mainstream business practices, is what drew many of us to work in the spa and wellness industry. There is now a full calendar of trade fairs and conferences to attend, and any number of business topics to be discussed. But for many spa professionals, the emphasis on business aspects can detract from their original impetus to enter the industry; connecting with people and enhancing the lives of others. Fortunately, events such as the Healing Summit provide the opportunity to revisit those core values.

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The Healing Summit is organized by Healing Hotels of the World, a membership association of hospitality properties that meet qualifications for providing true healing at their locations. The co-founders of Healing Hotels, Anne Biging and Elisabeth Ixmeier, envisioned a gathering of like-minded individuals from across industries, who share an interest in the deeper aspects of human connection. The Healing Summit website asks, “What does it take to live a life filled with purpose, contentment, joy and prosperity? How would it feel, if, by our actions, this dream became a reality for all? What would this new reality look like for you personally and professionally? How can you be actively involved in this evolutionary shift?” These are questions we may ask ourselves, but rarely have the time to examine in depth. The Healing Summit brings together a group of diverse people interested in exploring these and related issues. “The speakers and delegates, from scientists, economists, business leaders and hoteliers to holistic health practitioners and healers, aim to inspire and provide action points for our personal life, for our business and how we should treat our fellow human beings and the world.”

This year, the Summit was held for two days in the Hotel De Rome in Berlin, in a beautiful sun-drenched meeting space. Presenters do not use power points, and delegates were encouraged to put away our phones and stay present, physically and mentally. Over 100 attendees from 23 countries convened to share and learn together how to incorporate healing practices into their businesses and lives. A wide array of industries was also represented; many spa, wellness and hospitality personnel were joined by developers, physicians, principals of companies that supply these industries, and travel professionals, among others.

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Co-founder Biging welcomed attendees and discussed the goal of defining “What is Healing?,” which does not yet have a clear answer. Presenters included Dr. Mariela de Silveira, co-owner of Kurotel Longevity Center in Brazil, Asa Siegel, founder of STAMBA Superfoods from New York, leadership consultant Catherine Parrish and neuroscientist Dr. Marjorie Woollacott. Destination Spa Management’s Samantha Foster and wellness business consultant Anni Hood led a two-part workshop, “Healing The World Around Us.” A fascinating panel, “Thriving Health Communities,” featured Dr. Tanya Pergola, who described her work with tribes in Tanzania, Isabelle Duchesneau of Le Monastère des Augustines in Montreal, and Rupert Schmid, chairman of Biologique Recherche, giving excellent examples of healing behaviors in their respective environments. Margot Esser of Pharmos Natur addressed “The Secret Message of the Plant,” and Gina Preziosa of Shankara described “Creating Products from the Purest Intention;” this included sharing the fact that Shankara products are stored in a room with vedic music playing, and they are all blessed before leaving the production facility!

Celebrity yogi Nikki Costello and meditation and leadership trainer Velleda Dobrowolny provided mental and physical breaks; meditation and yoga interludes throughout the two days.

Many of us may entertain fleeting thoughts about our intentions, in life and business, and whether we are doing the best we can, and taking the time to explore these larger questions is valuable and rewarding, especially in a group setting with high-level facilitation. This conference was light on actionable business-related tactics, but it certainly provided one with the desire to explore what could be done, and to share and brainstorm with like-minded individuals from a variety of backgrounds was rewarding. At the conclusion of the event, we’d all made lots of new friends and acquaintances, and left with a renewed sense of purpose, which can be even better than power points!

–by Lisa M. Starr

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