20 Nov 2018 World leisure: news, training & property
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Leisure Management
2016 Review

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Leisure Management - James White

People profile

James White

Managing director, Maruia Hot Springs

White and Hamilton bought the springs as part of a consortium for a reported NZ$2.26m

Hot springs research and development consultant James White is the managing director of New Zealand’s Maruia Hot Springs and has promised a world-class bathing and wellbeing attraction, as well as a “total renewal of the Southern Alps bathing experience which fits harmoniously into the surrounding mountains.”

South Islanders White and his partner, Kim Hamilton, are planning extensive revitalising and expansion of the open-air hot pools that will help Maruia Hot Springs “become the blissful New Zealand nature escape that it should be” he says.

While this is the first property White has co-owned and managed, he’s no stranger to the industry. He headed up research for the Hot Springs Alliance Group between 2013 and 2015, which identified best practice in bathing industry.

His research analysed how global natural hot springs create, deliver and capture value. And it involved him visiting 20 countries and 122 hot springs sites, as well as conducting more than 180 interviews.

White’s findings concluded that Australia and New Zealand are well-placed to be premier destinations for wellness activities.

The people behind Australia’s Peninsula Hot Springs (PHS), which is also undergoing a major expansion, are co-investors in the development which was acquired by a consortium for a reported NZ$2.26m (US$1.6m). PHS founder and CEO Charles Davidson sits on the board of the Australasian Spa and Wellness Association with White.

White and Hamilton have been rejuvenating what was a Japanese-style bath house at Maruia Hot Springs into two communal indoor bathing experiences. Other soon to be developed facilities include thermal massaging showers, heated stone beds, new changing facilities, relaxation lounges, a sauna, steamroom and more indoor relaxation experiences.

The outdoor and indoor bathing pools are fed from a natural 56°C mineral spring and the eco-resort generates its electricity from its own hydro-power station.

“Over time, I’m looking to apply the knowledge gained from the global hot springs research to transform Maruia Hot Springs into an innovative, world-class hot springs experience and destination,” says White. “Maruia Springs will be a multi-million dollar redevelopment to create an experience that’s in keeping with this magical location.”

Originally published in Leisure Management 2016 issue 1

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