Thankful for Spas, Thankful for being in the Spa Industry, and most Thankful for our Friends in the Spa World by Susie Ellis
It’s Thanksgiving Eve and I did still want to post to my blog concerning the recent ISPA conference as promised in my last post. As it turns out, that works out just fine. Since I have been to almost every ISPA conference since they began having them in the early 90’s, I can truly say I am thankful for the “family reunion” I enjoy each year at the conference. My own family is quite small – just my twin sister and a brother here in the U.S. – so catching up with this ever-expanding family of fellow spa colleagues is always a pleasure.
With time short for me this year, I was only able to wave to some – Deborah Evans and Jim Root – or enjoy a short chat – Kim Marshall, Lynn McNees, and Andrew Gibson. With some I was able to sit and enjoy dinner – Gordon Taretta, Lisa Hedley, and Jeremy McCarthy. Of course, there are always fun times with our SpaFinder team who joined Peter and I in record number this year, and certainly there are precious moments with a few of my mentors like Deborah Szekely, Sheila Cluff, Juanita and Pat Corbett, Ruth Stricker, Bernie Burt, etc. There are also newer colleagues to reconnect with like Nick of Yelo (the napping spa) and Robert deStephano (Sleep Garden), and Clare West who runs Six Senses Europe.
My favorite moments during these past five ISPA conferences have probably been at the Alex Szekely Humanitarian Award dinners, which we host each year along with Mary-Elizabeth Gifford (love giving parties with her…she has such great taste in flowers and everything to do with entertainment) and Roma Maxwell, the PR director for Rancho La Puerta who represented Deborah Szekely and Peter Jensen in our dinner planning process (and this year put together a beautiful tribute card to all of the past recipients of the award named in Alex’s honor.)
In addition to acknowledging this year’s recipient, Maya Angelou who would be with us on the last day of the conference, we were able to toast Jonathan deVierville for receiving the dedicated contributor award from ISPA (he is amazing and this year even more so, as he is now amazing with fewer words) and Clodagh who received the ISPA visionary award (and very rightfully deserved with her wonderful design work which includes our “spa-inspired” offices in Manhattan.)
And then there are always my cherished moments with Deborah Szekely who has been like a second mother to me. (How is it that all these years later she still remembers my first marriage fiasco? Luckily she gave Peter the OK before I married him 22 years ago). Deborah is 85 now yet in many ways the same today as when I met her over 30 years ago. These days I share some of the sentiments she must have felt all along, growing older, seeing new spa industry attendees who seem so young….and knowing what a wonderful career they have in front of them – that they will be adding their unique talents to shape a hopefully strong and healthy future.
There are of course dozens of others who I had a chance to reconnect with…hearing about new babies, new marriages, new jobs, and new jobs again, etc. And, of course, we all tell each other that we haven’t aged a bit. (OK, yeah)
And so….this Thanksgiving when we go around the table and say what we are thankful for (Peter is not thrilled about this yearly routine but amuses me by playing along), it is really easy for me to recognize that I am indeed very thankful for my spa family.
I know that Peter feels the same. For most of his life he was in the automotive industry. He just joined me in the spa world around the year 2001. Occasionally we drive by large car dealerships and I ask him if he misses the car business. His answer has been the same for the past 7 years. “Not at all….I love the people in the spa industry so much better.”