At the 2008 Global Spa Summit, Ian Schrager
, who was the keynote speaker for Day One , gave a very inspirational talk. Looking somewhat “hip” himself (although in my opinion a tad older than the age (61) I had read about in a recent article), he began his remarks in a husky voice. I almost got up to get him a glass of water until I realized – that is
his regular voice. Maybe that’s a result of a lot of inhaled smoke from his first brainchild – Studio 54 back in the 80’s. (And yes, since I actually was allowed past the velvet ropes into Studio 54 once back then, I can vouch for the fact that there was plenty of smoke – and all kinds of smoking if you know what I mean.)
Anyway…back to the essense of his remarks which were so inspiring. Here are the five things he said which I remember most clearly:
1. The spa industry needs a lot more creativity…we have started recyclying the same old ideas over and over and we are not coming up with anything new.
2. Looking at other spas for inspiration for new spa design is a bad idea. Rather look outside of the spa industry. See what is happening in fashion for example, or maybe in yacht design, or hip restaurants, etc.
3. Don’t rely on focus groups or asking others for ideas when it comes to innovation…people cannot articulate something they haven’t seen. Rather, rely on your gut – something you want to see that is brand new.
4. Creativity in decor has nothing to do with the color of the carpet. It has everything to do with a new idea that sparks enthusiasm and catches on.
5. Much of his “secret” was how he tapped into people’s natural (and strong) desire to relate to each other. Social, social, social…..that’s where some “nuggets” of creativity will likely lie for spas of the future.
He showed slides of his various creations – all mesmerizing in their creativity and “thinking outside the box.” (It is worth looking at the slides viewable on the Internet.) What really impressed me about Ian’s talk is that every single person I spoke with thought it was terrific. And every slide he showed was of an unusual concept that was universally popular. That is genius.
Post Summit…one of the spa-tours we recommended was having a drink at the Gramercy Park Hotel (right around the corner from SpaFinder). A great finish to a remarkable experience with Ian Schrager himself.
Oh…I should mention…his latest collaboration is a venture with Marriott where a new brand
will incorporate Ian Schrager designs in the rooms of about 100 boutique hotels. Although there were questions about how this could possibly work, after seeing what he has done in the past – I have no doubt it will work beautifully!
“I am still passionate about continuing to rethink things and shake things up.
Coming up with breakthrough concepts and going off into unchartered territory.”
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