Well+Good cofounders Alexia Brue and Melisse Gelula

[Day One Keynote Speakers, Well+Good cofounders Alexia Brue and Melisse Gelula, courtesy of Lisa Starr]

Discussions on that very topic will be happening this week, as the 11th annual Global Wellness Summit got underway on Sunday in Palm Beach, Florida. More than 600 people from the fields of spa, wellness, hospitality, academics, technology, real estate investment and development, and product and equipment supply are gathered at the iconic Breakers Hotel for three and a half days of keynote presentations, panels, workshops, interactive roundtables, networking opportunities and inspiration.

Attendees from around the world arrived throughout Sunday, then gathered for an evening opening reception in the warm breezes by the ocean. The theme of this year’s Summit is Living a Well Life, a subject that will be explored from many angles over the next few days.

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Day One opened with a nature video montage by filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg, which ended with the audience dancing—not a bad way to start the day! Summit CEO Susie Ellis welcomed the delegation and introduced former Surgeon General of the U.S. Richard Carmona, MD, who discussed the fact that 75 percent of the cost of chronic illness in the US is lifestyle-related and thus preventable. He also pointed out the unique synergy in the fact that we were meeting in the Breakers’ Ponce de Leon room, named for the famous early 16th-century explorer who discovered Florida while searching for the fabled Fountain of Youth.

The Breakers is the first private host of the Summit, which has in the past always been hosted by a country or region. The company sought out the opportunity to showcase its innovative workplace wellness policies; we were fortunate to be addressed by owner Garrett Kirk, Jr., CEO Paul Leone and VP of HR Denise Bober, who shed light on their efforts. The 100+ year-old Breakers is the only large historic resort in the U.S. still in the hands of the original family owners. But 20 years ago, they recognized that they needed to make some changes to maintain that status, and so began an advanced wellness-oriented program for their 2,100 employees. The story is an impressive one, and backed up by the fact that the hotel enjoys an unheard-of (in hospitality) 82 percent employee retention rate, a Net Promoter score of 73 and ROI of 11 percent.

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Summit researchers Ophelia Yeung and Katherine Johnston gave a sneak peek at the latest research project, centered on Wellness Communities and Lifestyle Real Estate; the full report will be released in January 2018. They noted that demand for this product continues to grow, as consumers want to live, work and play in structures and businesses that support their well-being.

Other Day One keynote speakers included Alexia Brue and Melisse Gelula, cofounders of Well+Good; Mo Gawdat, chief business officer at Google [X] and author of Solve for Happy: Engineer Your Path to Joy (North Star Way, 2017); and Anjan Chatterjee, MD, Elliott Professor of Neurology, University of Pennsylvania, and author of The Aesthetic Brain (Oxford University Press, 2015).

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