ISPA To Recognize Deborah Szekely as a Visionary Leader During 20th Anniversary Celebration

April 22, 2010

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The International SPA Association is pleased to announce Deborah Szekely, founder and creative director of Rancho La Puerta Fitness Resort Spa and the Golden Door as the recipient of the 2010 International SPA Association Visionary Award. Szekely, known as the founding “godmother” of the mind, body and fitness movement, will be honored during the 2010 ISPA Conference & Expo, Nov. 15-18 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in the Washington, D.C. area. This award is especially significant since the association is celebrating its 20th anniversary at the Conference.

“Deborah Szekely is a true visionary leader who pioneered the spa lifestyle revolution,” said ISPA President Lynne McNees. “She is a champion of many great causes, but the spa experience and lifestyle are always at the forefront of her work. She continues to be a key part of the development of ISPA and the growth of the spa industry, and we are thrilled to show her our profound gratitude during our 20th anniversary celebration.”

The ISPA Visionary Award is given each year to an ISPA member who has made significant contributions to both the definition and positive movement of health and wellness over the lifetime of his or her career. In 1940, Szekely and her late husband, Edmond Szekely, founded Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Baja California, Mexico, one of the first destination spas. In 1958 she alone established the Golden Door, in Escondido, CA. With both spas firmly established, she helped to forge the fitness spa as a major service industry.

Upon learning of this recognition, Mrs. Szekely said, “I am delighted by this award-especially with being called a ‘visionary.’ I feel like I’ve received an imprimatur from the Vatican; a ‘well done’ stamp of approval. I’ve always been a dreamer, and I’ve never been satisfied with the status quo. It’s nice to know that my colleagues in ISPA agree that upsetting the apple cart can be a good thing.

ISPA has evolved in ways we could only imagine many years ago at the first meeting. Yet somehow, looking back, I can see that it was fore-ordained. This is the kind of organization, especially because it is our calling in life, where the famous quote from Margaret Mead truly applies: ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.’ Together we have proven that the health of the world is in our hands. Thank you for this great honor!”

Szekely was awarded the inaugural Alex Szekely Humanitarian Award by ISPA in 2004. The award, previously known as the ISPA Humanitarian Award, was renamed in Szekely was awarded the inaugural Alex Szekely Humanitarian Award by ISPA in 2004 in honor of Szekely’s late son Alex, a tireless spa advocate and ISPA leader. She also serves as an honorary chair for life on the ISPA Board of Directors. Mrs. Szekely has played a major role at nearly every ISPA Conference & Expo by participating in the Visionary panel, introducing keynote speakers and sharing her words of wisdom on the state of the industry.

The 2010 ISPA Visionary Award will be presented to Deborah Szekely during one of the General Sessions at the ISPA Conference & Expo. If you are interested in learning more about the Conference, please visit the ISPA Conference Web site. Registration is open, and the easiest way to register is online.

About the International SPA Association

ISPA is recognized worldwide as the leading professional organization and voice of the spa industry. ISPA advances the spa industry by providing invaluable educational and networking opportunities, promoting the value of the spa experience and speaking as the authoritative voice to foster professionalism and growth. More details on ISPA are available on

Spas are places devoted to enhancing overall well-being through a variety of professional services that encourage the renewal of mind, body and spirit.
A special thank you to our 2010 ISPA Conference & Expo Sponsors


Hay House

Precor Inc.


Iredale Mineral Cosmetics Ltd.

Murad Inc.






Germaine de Capuccini, S.A.


Skin Authority

Sothys USA Inc

SpaSoft/Springer-Miller Systems


American Massage Therapy Association

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