Hydrothermal Initiative members

The committee of global experts have been selected for their personal expertise and innovative abilities, experience and willingness to freely invest their time in an industry about which they care passionately.


Don Genders

Initiative Chair and Founder & CEO, Design for Leisure, United Kingdom

CEO of Design for Leisure, a specialist company in hydrothermal spa design and implementation. Don Genders brings 30+ years of experience to the initiative, with a personal passion for the achievement of excellence in this field. Headquartered in London, UK with a wholly owned subsidiary in Austin, Texas, USA, Design for Leisure offers global consultancy services with turnkey supply and implementation capabilities in the Americas, Caribbean and the UK.

Cassandra Cavanah

Initiative Vice Chair and Founder, Cavanah Communications, United States

Cassandra heads up Cavanah Communications, a public relations, marketing and consulting agency with a specialty in spa and wellness. Cassandra is part of the PR team for the Global Wellness Summit (GWS), the annual gathering of international leaders to positively shape the future of the multitrillion global wellness economy, and works throughout the year for both GWS and GWI spreading the word about wellness research and initiatives to the global media. Cassandra spent 10 years living in the UK and served as the Executive Director of Spafinder Wellness Europe for six years. In addition, she co-authored and edited the Guide to Hydrothermal Spa & Wellness Development Standards for the Global Wellness Institute’s Hydrothermal Initiative.

Thorsten Bichler

Director International Sales KLAFS GmbH & Co. KG & Managing Director KLAFS Asia Pacific Ltd, Germany

Thorsten has over 10 years of experience in the spa industry. As Director of KLAFS International Sales, the world market leader in sauna and spa, he and his team are responsible for over 60 partners worldwide. He coordinates direct sales and collaboration with customers and partners, and always keeps a close eye on the market to detect and set trends. Further Thorsten is responsible for the Asian market as Managing Director of KLAFS Asia Pacfic Ltd. Hong Kong, a 100% subsidiary of KLAFS Germany.

Sara Brenninger

Product Manager, TechnoAlpin, Italy

Sara Brenninger is passionate about technology in combination with lifestyle and wellbeing. As a product manager, Sara is representing the “Experts of Snowellness,” TechnoAlpin, a snowmaking specialist that of- fers an alternative, innovative healthy solution for the wellness branch. The snowellness experience uses existing heat applications and combines them with snow, giving individuals a more wholesome and effective spa experience.

Marc Cohen

Founder, Extreme Wellness Institute, Australia

Professor Marc Cohen (aka Dr Marc) is one of Australia’s pioneers of integrative medicine. He is a medical doctor with PhDs in Chinese Medicine and biomedical engineering and has published over 100 peer-reviewed scientific papers and multiple books on wellness topics. Marc is a Board Member of the Global Wellness Summit, Co-founder of the Bathe the World Foundation and Founder of the Extreme Wellness Institute.

Lasse Eriksen

Development Manager, Farris Bad Nordic Hotels & Resorts, Norway

As a coach, trainer and therapist, Lasse Eriksen has spent his last 20 years within the Nordic wellness scene with a true mission to share, develop and embrace the cultural and historical use of European sauna and wellness rituals. Lasse is a member of the Aufguss WM group, jury member in Aufguss WM/EM and professional sauna master at Scandinavia’s leading resort Farris Bad.

Sammy Gharieni

Founder & CEO, Gharieni Group, Germany

Sammy Gharieni founded the Gharieni Group 25 years ago.  The company has emerged as a leading European manufacturer of high-end spa and medical furniture beds and equipment. Today Gharieni exports to more than 70 countries around the globe. Committed to continuous improvement, Gharieni is ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 certified, with production in Germany.

Oliver W. Hasenfuhs

Managing Director, SnowBOX GmbH &  Founder of Snow Industries Network, Germany

In 1997 Mr. Hasenfuhs was co-founder of snow promotion GmbH, the mother company of SnowBOX GmbH. Since 2005 SnowBOX develops and provides snowmaking systems for event, spa and industry. Still new products are developed for the spa market to meet the customer’s expectations in cool treatments. Starting as professional ski&snowboard instructor during his economic university studies in the 1990th, he became one of the experienced experts for special snowmaking technologies in Europe. By founding the snow industries network in 2016 a new milestone is set for customer orientated distribution of snowmaking technologies considering the worldwide market requirements.

Marco Lutz

Export Director, Lux Elements GmbH & Co. KG, Germany

Marco Lutz is Export Director/Sales Director of Lux Elements, a manufacturer of waterproof building materials ranging from wall-lining systems for wet rooms and shower areas to freestanding monobloc building systems and prefabricated cabins and structures within thermal suites. The past 25 years he has not only been responsible for German and export sales but also for company trainings. Furthermore, he is an active member of various industrial unions.

Alister Macdonald

Group Managing Director, Barr + Wray, United Kingdom

As Group Managing Director of Barr + Wray Alister MacDonald is responsible for controlling global operations and formulating the strategic development of the Group. With its Head Quarters in the UK and subsidiary offices in Dubai and Hong Kong B+W is a truly global player in the field of wet spa design and installation with projects completed in over 40 countries.  B+W client list now includes almost all of the world’s finest International Hotel Groups. Alister is a qualified Chartered Accountant and has held senior management positions in a number of engineering businesses over the past 25 years.

Stephan Mayer-Klenk

Managing Director, Kemitron GmbH, Germany

Since 2007 Stephan has successfully managed Kemitron, a family business specialising in the design and manufacture of high quality, hi-tech solutions for the spa and wellness industry. Fragrance and chemical dosing are the origins of the business which expanded this technology to create the globally popular Experience Shower and its many derivatives, both standard and custom, together with ranges of cosmetics. The range of Kemitron products now embraces post treatment sanitising systems, automatic fragrance dosing for saunas and steam rooms and emergency call systems. Stephan’s studies in the USA, extensive travel and a global network of partners continue to expand his wide and diversified knowledge.

Amy McDonald

Owner Principal, Under a Tree Health and Wellness Consulting, United States

Amy McDonald is the owner of Under a Tree Consulting and has designed world class wellness experiences over 30 years that support optimal health and sustainability on an international level. Specialties include turnkey development and operational consulting globally. An advocate of water’s healing properties, Amy has chaired the Hot Spring Initiative for GWI for the past 2 years.

Rainer Rieger

Managing Director/ Co-owner, WDT – Werner Dosiertechnik GmbH & Co. KG, Germany

Since 2002 Mr. Rieger has been working in the Swimming Pool and Spa industry for WDT. The company produces an extensive product range of measuring, controlling and dosing systems for Swimming Pools, SPA & Wellness and Industrial applications for water purification. WDT employs 49 people and exports 75% of the produced systems.

Veronica Schreibeis Smith

CEO & Founding Principal, Vera Iconica Design, United States

Prior to founding Vera Iconica Architecture in 2010 in Jackson Hole, Veronica Schreibeis Smith worked as an architect on four continents. Smith values adventurous experiences that are rooted in culture and landscape, and is passionate about promoting holistic wellness through intuitive design and thoughtful material selection. Vera Iconica, meaning “true likeness,” focuses on creating and carefully designing experiences; the architecture is a means to this end.

Christian Sommerhuber

Managing Director, Sommerhuber GmbH, Austria

A fifth-generation member of the Sommerhuber Ceramic Manufactory, Christian Sommerhuber plays an integral role in maintaining the company’s position as Europe’s leader in heat-storage ceramics for cruise liners, hotels and private spas around the world. The company’s successful focus on design and hygiene garnered nominations for the European Spa Award in 2011 and 2013.

Heinrich Unbescheiden

Vice President, Unbescheiden GmbH, Germany

For more than ten years, Heinrich Unbescheiden is vice president of Unbescheiden GmbH, responsible for sales, development and marketing. The company has been family-owned for five generations and manufactures hydrotherapy and spa equipment with the highest standards: sophisticated technology which harmonizes with clear and stylish design. Unbescheiden ranks among the world’s leading suppliers of units and equipment for the spa sector.

Sascha Bialoian

Channel Manager Consumer, Dornbracht International GmbH, Germany

Sascha Bialoian joined Dornbracht, a renowned producer of high-quality designer fittings and accessories for the bathroom and private or professional spas, over a decade ago. Dornbracht relies on both science and the industry insights it has learned in the over 70 years it has served this sector, to develop evidence-based, health-promoting solutions. In addition, Dornbracht offers comprehensive services, from planning/specification to maintenance. Sascha is responsible for the global consumer channel.

Axel Zadina

Export Business Development Manager, HygroMatik, Germany

Axel has been Export Business Development Manager of HygroMatik, a manufacturer of humidification systems and steam bath generators for long-term operation, for nearly 20 years. Axel has a deep background is international trade and engineering and worked and lived in Asia for several years during his career.  At HygroMatik, Axel’s goal is to expand the company’s distribution network through strategic partnerships in the spa industry.