Spafinder 25th Anniversary

Spafinder: Through the Years

Spa Nostalgia Slideshows

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Spafinder: Through the Years

Twenty-five years ago, at the dawn of the spa boom, Spafinder was started as a travel agency dedicated solely to spa. Now it"s the go-to company for the spa industry and includes the most visited web portal for spa and wellness information. See how its grown through the years.


Spa Finder Ltd. debuts as spa travel company

Upon learning that some five million Americans of all ages, genders and income levels visit spas every year, Jeffrey Joseph decides to turn his then-40-year-old travel agency into a niche agency that specialises in booking spa vacations. He also publishes the first comprehensive spa guide.


Spafinder Magazine launches

After nine years immersed in the spa market, Jeffrey Joseph creates The Spa Finder, a spa and resort magazine, filled with descriptive articles and spa listings from around the globe.


Gift voucher programme begins

Spafinder becomes the largest retailer and wholesaler of gift cards for the spa/wellness industry. Today Spafinder cards/vouchers are accepted in 79 countries and sold at nearly 100,000 retail locations, including ASDA, Boots, Costco, Debenhams, Sainsbury"s, Tesco and WH Smith as well as online.

1999 goes live

The successful launch sets the tone for what the site is today: the world’s most visited website for spa and wellness information, trumping Google.* (*Coyle Research Report, May 2011.) Highlights of the website include a directory of thousands of worldwide spas, fitness, yoga and Pilates studios, wellness businesses and salons, the Club Spa blog, and a dedicated travel agent portal. The site also becomes available in six different local domains: UK, Germany, France, Japan, Italy and Spain.


The Ellis Family Trust becomes majority shareholder

The following year, Peter Ellis takes the helm as company chairman CEO. He and President Susie Ellis reinvigorate the brand and begin the transition to a Web-based business model.


Readers" Choice Awards debut

Spafinder announces its first annual Readers" Choice Awards, the only awards to honour spas in unique categories, from cuisine to hiking to accommodations. Each year readers vote for the spas they feel deserve to be christened the crme de la crme of the spa industry, resulting in the most comprehensive consumer assessment of the global spa industry. Today the awards recognise favourite spas on six continents, in 35-plus countries/regions and in 31 categories.


Spafinder presents its first Visionary Award

To recognise pioneering vision in the spa/wellness fields, Spafinder presents its first Visionary Award to Bruce E. Katz, M.D., for his trailblazing work in developing the concept of medical spas and for encouraging the spa industry to meet consumer demand for medical spa services.

Spafinder compiles its first Spa Trends Report

Fully acknowledging spa and wellness as a growth industry that is continuously evolving, Spafinder creates a report that anticipates upcoming developments in the spa world based on its ears-to-the-ground research. The report still remains the go-to resource for the spa industry and is published every January.

Photo credit: Juva Skin & Laser Center


Spafinder Europe and Spafinder Japan joint ventures form

Expanding Spafinder"s reach on the global stage, both Spafinder Europe and Spafinder Japan offer regional spa marketing and gifting programmes, including localised websites: and


SpaBooker commences

Spafinder"s software division, SpaBooker, creates an online, 24-7 booking system used to book treatments and spa services, manage contacts and appointments, and streamline business. Participating international properties include Spa Chakra and Hilton Hotels Corporation. In three years SpaBooker becomes a separate company named GramercyOne.

The Global Spa Summit holds its first meeting

Spearheaded by Spafinder CEO Pete Ellis and Spafinder President Susie Ellis, the Global Spa Summit (GSS) becomes an historic event at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, New York. The annual international gathering brings together leaders and visionaries to positively impact and shape the future of the global spa and wellness industries. The 2011 Summit, held in Bali, Indonesia, attracts a record 275 executives from 35 nations; the 2012 GSS will take place in Aspen, Colorado.

Melanoma Awareness, a cause near and dear to our hearts

After our spa industry colleague and friend Alex Szekely, former president of the Golden Door and Rancho La Puerta, died of melanoma at just 44, Spafinder launched its Melanoma Initiative to educate others about melanoma awareness and prevention.


Spafinder acquires SpaWish Gift Card business

The purchase expands its spa gifting programme in the US, to include the immense salon market, estimated to be a $40-billion industry. Spafinder renames, brands and operates this new division as “Spa & Salon Wish” and grows the network of thousands of day spas and salons that accept SpaWish gift cards and vouchers.


Spafinder Instant Gift Vouchers become available

Spafinder Instant Gift Vouchers commence, allowing spa enthusiasts the ability to email or print for immediate delivery.

Spafinder enters into agreement with Sandow Media

Joining with the leader in high-end online and print-media properties, Spafinder and Sandow publish NewBeauty Spafinder Guide to Global Spa, Wellness & Beauty, found on more than 20,000 news stands and 12,000 leading spas and hotels worldwide. The Spafinder Supplement appears in every issue of NewBeauty magazine, beginning in fall/winter 2010.


Spafinder launches Glambition

The ultimate makeover & beauty experience! Appealing to today"s new fashion- and style-focused demographic, Glambition gift cards and vouchers can be used at over 650 locations for beauty, nails, hair, tanning, makeover and photo shoots nationwide.

Spafinder goes mobile

Spafinder launches the first iPhone app for the spa industry that allows customers to easily find spas and book appointments on their smartphones. The phrase "search, book, spa!" has never been so easy.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Mariel Hemingway


MINDBODY and Spafinder sign an exclusive agreement

MINDBODY and Spafinder sign an exclusive agreement, bringing 12,000 spas, yoga and Pilates studios, health clubs, private trainers, fitness clubs and salons to Spafinder websites.

SpaEvidence makes its mark

A highlight of the 2011 Global Spa Summit is the unveiling of the world"s first online portal dedicated to the medical evidence supporting 22 spa and wellness therapies:

Photo credit: MINDBODY


Spafinder"s 25th Anniversary

As Spafinder celebrates its 25th anniversary, it also celebrates the thousands of businesses and professionals, and the millions of wellness-enthusiasts, who have helped the company grow to become the world"s largest spa and wellness resource. Spafinder would like to thank you for your continued support and inspiration!

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