22 Sep 2021 World leisure: news, training & property
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Spa Business
2018 issue 1

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Leisure Management - Russian wellness

News feature

Russian wellness

Nearly 250 spa professionals gathered recently in the Caucasus thermal springs region of Russia for the fourth annual Spa & Wellness International Congress. Lisa Starr was there, and reports on the highlights

Lisa Starr, Wynne Business
The congress was held in Russia’s Caucasus region, which boasts a large number of thermal springs shutterstock
Elena Bogacheva heads up the Spa & Wellness International Congress, or SWIC
The Green Resort Hotel & Spa.
Starr with Toskanaworld’s Marion Schneider and Dornbracht’s Mattias Voit
Spa & Wellness International Congress
Neurobiologist Dr Claudia Aguirre shared her findings on skin and beauty synergies and the brain

Organised by the Spa & Wellness International Council, headed by Elena Bogacheva, the Spa & Wellness International Congress, or SWIC, presents a wide variety of speakers and topics for the Russian and Russian-speaking spa world. November’s event saw 250 people – the largest number yet – from Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Latvia and Lithuania come together for three days of workshops and conferences.

The event served as the test for the Green Resort Hotel & Spa in its soft opening phase. Perched on a hill above a river, the hotel is located in Kislovodsk, one of four thermal cities in this part of Russia. The hotel is a well-designed and modern space that features a large spa and pool complex on the ground floor, overlooking a rose garden. This year, 56 speakers made presentations over three days, covering topics including staff management, wellness tourism, psychology in spas and marketing.

According to the most recent Global Wellness Institute statistics, Russia ranks 8th in the world for the number of spas, with more than 3,000 locations, mostly in large cities, and is also fourth on the list of thermal spring areas, with over 800 establishments. Because of visa and language issues, international tourism to Russia is flat, but domestic tourism is strong, with between 33-36 million annual travellers. According to the Russian Union of Travel Industry, domestic tourism is growing between 8 and 10 per cent a year.

The market is very interested in wellness tourism, and the Russian Ministry of Health reports that only 30 per cent of Russians express satisfaction with wellness visits abroad, feeling that their home market provides a better experience. The Russian Federation has a Strategy of Development of Tourism in place up to the year 2020, which aims to improve the quality and competitiveness of their tourism products for both domestic and international visitors, indicating a growing opportunity in this region for spas and wellness-related businesses.

Some highlights from the myriad conference lectures include a presentation by Marion Schneider of Germany’s Toskana Therme on the economic effect of a therme, with her three current facilities providing a strong foundation for growth and tourism in their villages.

Gennady Bartukhin, president of the National Bath Federation, shared his organisation’s plans for a National Bath Museum in Moscow, and Gayane Suriakhina, director of La Salute Fitness Club & Spa, gave a detailed presentation on the best metrics to create revenue in a club spa.

Neurobiologist Dr Claudia Aguirre shared her findings on skin and beauty synergies with the brain, and local marketing guru Roman Tarasenko gave ideas and examples for current successful marketing strategies.

There was also a small expo with global and local brand and equipment sponsors including Thalgo, Comfort Zone, Sundari and Iyashi Dome, where attendees could browse the latest offerings from these companies, while demonstrations and spa treatments were available in the spa.

The fourth day of the congress offered tours of local sanatoriums and some other cultural activities, including a wine, olive oil, cheese and honey tasting by a local organic grower and vintner. Attendees also had the opportunity to sample local tea and herbs and visit the arcade of mineral waters, where they could try some of the different waters available from fountains. The evening culminated with the Perfect Spa Awards and Gala Dinner, which honoured local Russian spas across a variety of categories, and saw the Doville Hotel & Spa in Anapa, Russia, named as Perfect Spa of the Year.

The next SWIC Congress is set to take place 3-6 November 2018 in Astana, Kazakhstan. “We’re planning to attract more professionals from Asian countries,” says Bogacheva. “Alongside the business topics for spa owners and managers, the agenda will also comprise two scientific conferences devoted to anti-ageing technologies and integrative medicine.”

Perfect Spa Awards winners of 2017

Perfect Spa of the Year
Doville Hotel & Spa
(Anapa, Russia)

Perfect Day Spa
Spa by Anne Semonin
(Minsk, Republic of Belarus)

Perfect Medical Spa
Kluchi Balneo-Resort
(Perm Region, Russia)

Perfect Club Spa
Lavender Club & City Spa
(Tver, Russia)

Perfect City Hotel Spa
Spa by Decleor, StandArt Hotel

Perfect Country Hotel Spa
Espace Chenot, Barvikha Luxury Hotel & Spa

Perfect Resort Spa
Vytautas Mineral Spa

Perfect Destination Spa
Spa Vilnius Anyksciai

Originally published in Spa Business 2018 issue 1

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