The Ins and Outs of Participating in the Global Celebration
by Jamison Stoike

Founded in 2017, World Wellness Weekend has rapidly become one of the premier global celebrations of spa.

This year’s event will take place on September 21 and 22. Despite beginning in just two countries—France and Belgium—in 2017, last year saw participation in 88 countries. It’s anticipated that this year’s event will be celebrated by approximately 2,000 spas in more than 100 countries worldwide. Many of the participating spas collaborate with other businesses or local government for the event, and the two-day format allows for spas to host multiple activities touching different aspects of wellness, if they choose.

Many of the largest organizations in the spa industry—including Massage Envy Franchising, LLC, Canyon Ranch, Hilton Worldwide and Marriott International—will participate in this year’s event.

Beyond being a celebration of spa, fitness and wellness, World Wellness Weekend is an opportunity “to kick the industry in the behind” and inspire fresh ideas, profound community involvement and deeper employee engagement, says founder Jean-Guy de Gabriac of Tip Touch International. In addition to focusing on the goal of improving global wellness, de Gabriac sees the weekend as an opportunity to make the world at large (and the media) take note of spa.

To participate in World Wellness Weekend, your spa will need to register online for free and devise a unique wellness activity that lasts at least one hour. The more unique, the better: one of de Gabriac’s favorite examples from last year’s event came from a spa in Mozambique that hosted a yoga and meditation session on a small, coastal sand bank that washed away at high tide. Another activity from 2018 noted by de Gabriac was a “Yopera” class that combined yoga and opera. Outreach to local media, government officials and businesses is another important aspect of participation, according to de Gabriac.

Lastly, de Gabriac notes that engaging with your employees is critical to the event’s success and beneficial to your spa’s long-term workforce development. By creating a unique activity through employee input and “sharing a higher purpose with them” beyond the bottom-line, your team will feel a sense of pride in their work, says de Gabriac.

Todd Hewitt—corporate director spa, health clubs and recreation for Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts—is an advocate for the impact of the event. “We think that it is important to continue to increase the awareness of wellness through fun activities,” said Hewitt, who also noted that Shangri-La especially values World Wellness Weekend’s emphasis on community involvement. Last year, Shangri-La’s events ranged from glow-in-the-dark Zumba in Jakarta to rooftop yoga in Bangkok and Sydney. Hewitt says that Shangri-La plans to do even more for this year’s event by “coordinating real-time competitive activities between five of our largest fitness facilities.”

Whether you’re a day spa, a destination spa or anything in between, there’s no activity too big or too small for World Wellness Weekend, says de Gabriac. “It’s all about having fun,” he says, “It’s a time when we can all come together to do something amazing and elevate the profile of wellness.”

No matter where you’re located or what you do, that’s a mission that all ISPA members can agree on.


To make the most of World Wellness Weekend, you’ll need to plan ahead and have a strategy to maximize your spa’s exposure, both to customers and to the media. Here’s a rundown of tasks you may want to complete before the event begins on September 21.

REGISTER ONLINE: Visit to register your spa online for free; this gets you on the official World Wellness Map and provides access to free resources like logos, posters and activity ideas.

REACH OUT: Part of World Wellness Weekend’s mission is to make spas active in their own towns. Reach out to possible partners in your area, as well as your local mayor or chamber of commerce, to find out how you can work together to raise the profile of wellness in your community.

GET CREATIVE: A cool, unique activity is key to a successful weekend. Brainstorm with your team for ideas and do research online. Ask other area businesses for help. Think of offers and promotions you can use to attract people to your spa before, during and after World Wellness Weekend.

COMMUNICATE: Prepare a communication and marketing plan; write a press release and send it to local outlets; develop a social media campaign for your World Wellness Weekend activity. A robust communication plan that builds up to the event itself will help get people excited.

PRACTICE: Depending on the complexity of your activity, you may want to practice it beforehand. This can also help you discover small details you might still need to make it successful—signage, a post-activity survey or even an additional session.