ISPA Innovate Awards: Connecting the Dots of Innovation
By Mae Manacap-Johnson

Innovation rarely happens in a straight line.

In fact, in most cases, innovation means connecting the many dots that spark the need for creative thinking – from an untapped market to a big problem and, eventually, toward one brilliant idea. In the spa world, there are many forward-thinking ideas worthy of recognition. through the ISPA Innovate Award, now in its second year, we celebrate groundbreaking innovations in five categories: Experiences, leadership & Philanthropy, treatments, technology & Equipment and Products.

Out of nearly 80 applications, ISPA members cast their vote to help narrow down the top three winners for each category. All winners will be recognized during Wednesday’s general Session on September 26 at this year’s ISPA conference & Expo. In addition, one “ISPA Innovation of the Year Award” winner will be recognized on stage for leading the way in pushing the spa industry toward the future. So who are among this year’s ISPA Innovate Award winners? Pulse turns the spotlight on this year’s deserving recipients:


The Winner: Canyon Ranch in Lenox

The Innovation: Shinrin-Yoku or Forest Bathing

The Unique Factor: Canyon Ranch in Lenox draws inspiration from the long-held Japanese tradition of forest bathing, called shinrin-yoku. The spa introduced this form of nature therapy to afford guests the experience of intentionally reconnecting with nature. “Our approach to creating this 90- minute experience culminated after 18 months of academic and experiential research,” says VP of Experience Development Molly Anderson. To make it an immersive experience, the spa decided to combine elements from spiritual training with a Shaman, breath work with a yogi and mindfulness sessions with a certified trainer to help guests connect with nature using all five senses.

The Success: The experience earned the spa positive feedback from guests. “Attendance and interest have been strong. Guests are willing to put on a rain poncho and go outside—just to be outside,” says Anderson.

The Winner: Four Seasons Resort Lanai

The Innovation: Zenset Horse Yoga

The Unique Factor: Recognizing the power of the human and animal connection, Four Seasons Resort Lanai takes yoga to a whole new level through its Zenset Horse Yoga. To give guests a unique experience, the spa created a yoga session that combines horses, stables and sunsets. “Guests can reconnect mind, body and heart to the natural world—enjoying yoga, meditation and a shared-space experience in the horses’ home environment,” says Spa Director Shaw Cote.

The Success: The introduction of Zenset Horse Yoga has given Four Seasons Lanai a new opportunity to make the experience more memorable for guests, many of whom have never been close to horses until the day they experienced the unique yoga.

The Winner: Salt of the Earth

The Innovation: Custom Blend Bar Experience by Salt of the Earth

The Unique Factor: Sleek and portable in design, the Custom Blend Bar adds a personalized touch to the spa retail experience as guests are able to select seasonal scents, essential oils and 72 trace mineral complexes from the Great SaltLake, which they could add to body creams and detoxifying mineral salt scrubs. “Our fresh, natural ingredients are easily stored and mixed in our sleek, portable wood and steel bar. The best part is, clients can bring back the jar for a refill so it never sees a recycling bin, or even worse, a landfill,” said former CEO Paul Heslop.

The Success: Spas like The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island have found success in using the Custom Blend Bar to help drive retail revenue. “We invite hotel guests to join the spa’s 30-minute educational classes to learn about essential oils and the salt we use in body scrubs. Then, we invite them to blend their own product after,” says Gary Virden, director of spas and recreation at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island.

Leadership & Philanthropy

The Winner: American Spa Magazine

The Innovation: American Spa’s Women in Wellness Awards & Leadership Conference

The Unique Factor: The Women in Wellness Leadership Conference officially debuted in March this year with a mission to create a nurturing and informative environment that provides tangible tools to help women in the wellness space grow personally and professionally. “Like many industries, the spa and hospitality world is one filled with disparities in salaries, leadership roles, mentorship programs, and growth opportunities for women. It’s a place they can feel safe sharing their feelings and experiences while tapping into the expertise of speakers and like-minded colleagues.” says Julie Keller Callaghan, editor-in-chief.

The Success: The first-ever Women in Wellness Awards & Leadership Conference gathered more than 230 female leaders in the spa and wellness space.

The Winner: Eminence Organic Skin Care

The Innovation: Eminence Kids Foundation

The Unique Factor: Eminence Organic Skin Care founded the nonprofit organization, Eminence Kids Foundation, to partner with clinics, farmers and spas to deliver organic produce weekly for seriously ill children. “As of February this year, more than 60,000 organic meals, an average of 371 meals per week, have already been served to sick children through the nonprofit partnership,” says President Boldijarre Koronczay. The Foundation also helps create awareness on the importance of choosing healthy foods and start the conversation around nutrition and wellness at an early age.

The Success: The philanthropic idea has inspired spas to make a difference. In 2017, a group of 25 spa industry professionals from companies such as Epicuren, Zeel, Live Love Spa and SpaTec, trained for a Half Ironman to help raise $10,000 for the Éminence Kid Foundation.

The Winner: Ojai Valley Inn & Spa

The Innovation: Workplace Wellness

The Unique Factor: After the devastating Thomas Fire forced a fiveweek closure, Spa Ojai reopened with a renewed, five-tiered comprehensive approach to wellness for its team. The holistic approach focused on five elements: Mindful, Physical, Practical, Experiential and Philanthropic. “By investing in the wellness of our associates, we create a team energized and passionate about creating memorable experiences for our guests,” says Spa Director Kate Morrison.

The Success: The renewed focus on associate wellness has helped increase employee morale. In addition, guest satisfaction scores (measured through the UniFocus third-party program) are running two percent higher than this time last year.


The Winner: Canyon Ranch Wellness Resort in Tucson

The Innovation: Rejuvenating Waters – A Native American Healing Ritual

The Unique Factor: To offer a transformative experience to guests, Canyon Ranch introduced the Rejuvenating Waters treatment, a Native American Healing Ritual. Inspired by the sweat lodge tradition, the two-hour ritual combines heat and steam with relaxing bodywork. “The treatment brings together everything spa therapies draw from: ageold healing traditions, the power of intention, deep-tissue massage and the magic of hydrotherapy, steam and ashiatsu massage,” says Corporate Director of Experience Development Aras Erekul.

The Success: With 20 years of stellar guest experience, Canyon Ranch continues to receive positive feedback from guests on inspiring experiences, including its Rejuvenating Waters treatment.

The Winner: Miraval Resort & Spa

The Innovation: A Water-based Treatment that Combines Sensory Deprivation with Thai Massage

The Unique Factor: A unique sensory experience, the groundbreaking treatment ignites the sense of touch as guests wear blindfolds while immersed in water. As a result, guests are taken to a whole new experience from the weightlessness of water, the deep and relaxing stretches of Thai massage, and the pulsations of sound from powerful underwater speakers. “When combined with traditional spa experiences, such as Thai massage, the effects of sensory deprivation can be intensified, allowing guests to have a deeper, more meaningful experience in which they learn to look inward,” says Director of Spas Simon Marxer.

The Success: Booking level for the service is currently at 77 percent of total availability and revenue is projected to reach US$400,000 in the first 12 months since it was introduced.

The Winner: Zents Body Care

The Innovation: Vibrant living Wellness Ritual

The Unique Factor: With a mission to provide wellness treatments to individuals undergoing a health challenge, such as cancer, Zents Body Care introduced Vibrant Living Wellness Rituals. The ritual uses organic, UNZENTED products that are ultra-gentle, soothing and nourishing. “While spas, treatments and products will never claim to be a cure for cancer or other diseases that have a stressful impact on individuals and their families, we can, however, become a much-needed oasis for peace, healing and calm,” says President and Founder Cord Coen.

The Success: Zents Body Care has successfully launched the ritual treatment in 22 countries throughout Asia, the Middle East and Europe with Shangri-La Resorts, as well as its spa partners in the United States, the Caribbean and Mexico.

Technology and Equipment

The Winner: Book4Time, Inc.

The Innovation: Guest Intake Platform

The Unique Factor: Aside from cost savings and increased operational efficiencies, the Guest Intake Platform is compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), which requires companies to store data collected from clients for up to seven years. Guest Intake provides intuitive, mobile-friendly forms that can be easily personalized and shared with guests for completion upon or prior to arrival at the spa. “Storing paper forms and going through compliance is very costly. Spas [that] haven’t completed a HIPPA audit are operating with huge risk,” says Founder and CEO Roger Sholanki.

The Success: Shortly after launching Guest Intake, Book4Time Inc. partnered with MindBody to provide Guest Intake to their client base consisting of more than 50,000 clientele.

The Winner: Living Earth Crafts

The Innovation: Club LE

The Unique Factor: The Club Chair LE is Living Earth Crafts’ newest space-efficient mani/pedi combo chair, featuring a motorized, retractable and fully plumbed pedicure bowl. “The chair’s versatile footprint makes it an incredible space-saver, while the electronic adjustments enable perfect client and technician ergonomics,” says CEO Jim Chenevey. In addition, the hidden pedicure unit features a quiet, easy-to-plumb and reliable pipeless hydrotherapy.

The Success: Living Earths Crafts has pioneered the use of mani/pedi combo chairs and successfully introduced the innovative models to spas like Bliss, Elizabeth Arden, Gadabout and The Woodhouse Day Spa.

The Winner: Technogym

The Innovation: SKILLRUN

The Unique Factor: SKILLRUN features an innovative MULTIDRIVE TECHNOLOGY™ that offers a well-rounded cardio and power training solution. SKILLRUN features Parachute Training, Sled Training, Cadence Training and Bio-Feedback. “Through agility, strength, endurance and programming embedded in the solution, spa professionals can work with their result-driven clients and allow improved strategic conversations with the fitness teams to improve the balance and overall health of their guests,” says Technogym Sales Director Jay Muller.

The Success: Technogym has established itself as the benchmark in the sports world, serving as the official supplier of fitness equipment to seven Olympic and Paralympic Games, from Sydney 2000 to PyeongChang 2018.


The Winner: Dazzle Dry

The Innovation: Dazzle Dry Nail Care

The Unique Factor: As a nail lacquer system, Dazzle Dry’s competitive edge is its quick-drying feature. The nail polish completely air-dries in five minutes, eliminating smudges and rework. It does not use UV light, has no reactive or harmful ingredients, and does not damage nails as it can be easily removed with a nail polish remover. “Spas can see an increase in profit, schedule nail services with more flexibility and service more clients with this vegan, non-toxic, healthier alternative to UV gels,” says Dr. Vivian Valenty, Dazzle Dry President.

The Success: A Dazzle Dry client, which runs a 20-location salon chain, was able to introduce a US$10 upcharge fee for a traditional polish service after using the Dazzle Dry nail lacquer system. As a result, the salon chain earned an additional profit of US$865,000.


The Innovation: Athleisure-Inspired Noel Asmar Uniforms

The Unique Factor: Inspired by the growing athleisure trend, Noel Asmar’s latest collection of spa uniforms are infused with sustainable/recycled fabrics. The collection features the durability, functionality and comfort of sportswear with a sophisticated twist. “This improved uniform comfort and functionality will reflect positively on the company’s team atmosphere, thus helping to increase staff retention and overall career enjoyment,” says CEO and Founder Noel Asmar.

The Success: This new innovation was first tested with the Noel Asmar Compression Fit Leggings, designed to battle muscle fatigue and varicose veins in spa professionals caused by prolonged periods of being on their feet.

The Winner: RAD

The Innovation: Self-Myofacial Release Tools

The Unique Factor: Emphasizing the importance of self-care, RAD’s selfmyofascial release tools are known to help improve mobility, prevent injury, augment performance and aid in recovery from exercise. In spas, RAD tools can be used as part of a spa service, back bar and retail. “Combined with its brain-based mobility education, RAD products have served to enhance the knowledge and skills of therapists. As a result, therapists have successfully assisted spa guests in creating consistent massage and recovery care plans,” says Founder Mike Mallory.

The Success: Over the past two years, RAD products have successfully been introduced into more than 200 spas across North America.