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  • Writer's pictureMatthias Voit

Let us not make wellness a fashion

Updated: Apr 25

"I use the word thoughts, not talks, as sometimes lately, it seems to me that the last thing I want to do, or should be doing, is add more talk.

It is an endless chatter on wellness that we get exposed to nowadays, being a professional from the industry or not.

Whatever media you open, and the un-aptly named social media as a sad front runner, you can be sure that there will be a face and a voice appearing on screen, quite uninvited, to tell you the latest and greatest she or he has accomplished recently, and how this has added greatly to the wellness level of this, our unwell world. Let us not make wellness a fashion.

 

Most certainly, and I mean it, there actually is a plethora of amazing, well trained Spa professionals out there, willing and able to share their much needed wisdom, still these voices seem to be getting lost in that huge, noisy storm of self-acclaimed wellness prophets, self-made experts, and self-centered egos.

Is it simply to easy to jump on the band wagon called wellness nowadays? I don’t know but maybe, the stage is too easy to enter, or the number of amateur actors too large.

 

As for me, I would not dare call myself a wellness expert but then, one and a half decades spent with the industry may make me an insider, who has heard and learned a lot, while he lived through the rise of Spa and wellness.

In my early beginnings, this industry was still trying to find a name and a place ( which is an ongoing process as we speak). Somewhere between fitness, health treatments and century old bathing traditions on one side, and a tourism travel industry in need of a new push and exciting, profitable yet unknown destinations on the other side, wellness and its vehicle Spa found themselves caught in the middle, to both their immense benefit: Whenever the health side did not have an input for a time being , there would always be tourism to jump in for developments. Well known destinations, yet worn out, or out of fashion, or both of this, would get a second wind by adding wellness to their accolades.

Deserved or not, this recipe is still been cooked up daily. With time, the wellness travel industry was declared to be here for good, and has been a staple diet for leisure and business travelers alike.

 

I was not involved then, as my profession and passion were lying in another sector, which still had to discover the virtues of wellness. My occupation was, and has been for most of my working life, the yachting industry, and I remember vividly my first exposure to the word Spa. It was 2009, and the term was still widely unknown, and most certainly ages away from mainstream, as it seemed then. We all did not quite know what do to with it, even less for the maritime industry: A yacht may probably be the most luxurious, personal, beautiful space a person can have designed for himself, so what use would a wellness area have? More luxury yet?


The answers came pouring in quickly, and the Spa these days is an integral part of marine interiors. And it here that it all starts: Who deals with it, when it comes to creating a Spa for an owner, and what should go in? Never more than today, this question has become increasingly difficult to answer. Designing a real Spa is a task not easy because choices are endless, and they are growing as we speak.

We used to have a one-fits-all formula for wellness areas made up from whirlpool/ Sauna/ treadmill/steam and the indispensable décors Buddha statue, Bamboo sticks and Chinese character letters.


A Spa would resemble rather a Thai restaurant for long, and years of scientific development, learning and research were needed to bring about the change to modern, functional wellness realms of our time.

Then, the trend setting started: Remember Telomeres? A huge trend, promising longevity and early detecting of illnesses. The floating tank, the frequencies, Hot Stones, Himalayan salt, to name but a few. All of these have a meaning and reason for being, once they prove their effectiveness and good for the client.


A clever wellness marketing, however, has long turned this process around: Come up with a new idea, make it a big splash, have it on social media, find influencers, and sell it. Eventually, research will be taking up the topic and back up the treatment with science. Or not, as in the case of hot stones, for example. If it concerns your product, and should you be lucky enough, a treatment and matching retail by then may be established enough to not be harmed, again as in the case of hot stone, and will be sold in huge numbers anyway.

 

This is the moment when I am out. A treatment with no proven effect whatsoever is not adding to wellness. Be it simply enhancing the beauty or atmosphere of the space, and I am in. It does not have to be elaborate or fancy but it must be real.

And do not get me wrong: I for once am a tester, someone to try out new ways and approaches. Indian Chanting? I did not know the least bit of it, yet tried it and was hooked from the first time I joined in. Meditation was another matter, as I felt it just would not work for me. It took me a while to find the right mediator, only to discover that my body and soul seemingly had been waiting to let down their guard and dive in deeply.

 

What I am trying to say: Wellness must develop and it does so quicker than ever before, due to bigger networks and the notion that the subject may actually hold the solution to social and medical challenges of our ageing societies but stick to the basics, please:

Wellness is not a lasting or permanent stage, it is a process, a way. As a human being, we are able to make choices to follow this path, or veer off it. A Spa is the vehicle, a helping hand and more importantly, it is not about the hardware, which goes in. A Vichy makes sense, once you can include it into a treatment. A Cryo chamber is valuable for those clients who have a medical disposition, and only then. The right light, changing light frequencies the day over, is not one more fashion or trend you follow but should be a must for everyone who knows it exists.

Add Kneipp to the Spa, train clients on easy treatments, and you will put huge wellness into their own hands. Furniture for a yacht Spa, made from recycled teak deck, like Eva does it? This is taking wellness to a higher level.

 

The list of topics I would ask for goes on and on. Where it may lead to? In an ideal world, the answer would be healing, a stage of wellness for all of your being’s entities. I am not sure, though, on how close we can ever get to this stage, and if it is not too much to ask from wellness. Every time experts tried, and laymen took over, the result has been rather resorting to wellwashing as a quick fix.

 

Translated into my own work, the answer is here, though: A Spa on a yacht is no oasis within an oasis but a part of every day life and rituals. If I can assist with doing it right, and honest, it will adopt to the client’s need and  have a well, long term effect on their lifes. It will remain in use, undergo changes and adaptations with time, refits and changing owners.

This may not sound like much but the prospect of wellness, and maybe even healing in reach to me is enormous."

 

Matthias Voit, Out at Sea, Saarland Germany


Eva Mechler solid wood bath
Eva Mechler solid wood bath

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