Jean-Guy de Gabriac, Co-chair Global Mentorship Program, [email protected] 
Kate Sornson, Administration
[email protected] or +1.713.775.8706





BRUSSELS, Belgium (February 6, 2015) – The global spa and wellness industry has made career wellbeing part of its mantra with the launch of the first-ever global mentoring project. The Global Mentorship Pilot Program, spearheaded by a team of spa and wellness experts from around the world, kicked off with 17 seasoned spa directors serving as mentors to spa managers in the spring of their careers looking for guidance and inspiration. The first-ever program is led by Jean-Guy de Gabriac, CEO of Tip Touch international spa training and consultancy, and Deborah Smith, Principal of Smith Club & Spa Specialists, a US-based wellness consultancy. Each mentorship pair will meet twice a month in video conference or by phone over three months to hash out career challenges identified by the mentee. Based on a preliminary survey of participants, the first group of mentees is particularly interested in gaining insights into marketing, finance, leadership, and strategic business planning. Topics are expected to range from serving as an effective leader for spa staff, to brainstorming ways to make retail space more profitable, to tips on introducing a new fitness program. The program was announced at the 2014 Global Wellness Summit. For more on the project visit their Facebook page at

Spa managers with at least two years experience are eligible to apply to the program. The second session, which begins in April, is already filled as well, with applications for the 2016 session being accepted beginning in May. Interested mentees and mentors may contact [email protected]. The program is free for all participants.

This initiative comes on the heels of the “2013 Spa Career Path Survey” conducted by the Global Wellness Summit’s Spa Management Education Committee, which showed 94 percent of spa managers reporting that a good mentor is important to a successful spa career. The survey also found that mentoring was the top contributor to becoming a strong leader and understanding human resource issues.

“The concepts of spa, wellness and complementary healing principles date back to ancient times, with many practices handed down from one generation to the next,” said de Gabriac. “Consider this a modern version of that practice, with mentors giving freely of their time and talent to spa professionals who are early in their career journey.” He went on to say that the exponential growth of global wellness over the past decade has nearly dictated that real-life expertise supplement what is currently offered in the classroom.

“This is one way to reduce the learning curve for these junior spa managers who show great potential yet need and want sage guidance to master the profession,” said de Gabriac. 
To help provide a framework for mentor/mentee discussions, the project committee turned to the International Spa Association (ISPA), drawing from the association’s list of core competencies for development of spa management professionals.

The first group of mentees hails from France, Portugal, Italy, Cyrus, Germany, the United States, Columbia, Costa Rica, United Arab Emirates, India, the Republic of Mauritius, and Australia. They represent many types of spa settings, including hotel and resort spas, club spas, independent day spas, mineral springs spas, even a spa at a health club owned by a non-profit health care organization.

Findings from the inaugural year will be reported at the 2015 Global Wellness Summit to be held in Mexico City, November 13-15. That summit is presented by the Global Wellness Institute.

About the Global Mentorship Pilot Program
The Global Mentorship Pilot Program is the only formal mentorship program of its kinds serving the global spa and wellness industry. Founding project committee members span the globe, representing the Americas, the Middle East, Australia, Europe and India. Leading French skin care brand Biologique Recherche is the exclusive sponsor of the 2015 program. “As a growing international spa brand, we understand the importance of highly trained, educated spa professionals to achieve a successful business,” said Dr. Philippe Allouche, MD, Head of Creation, Partner and CEO, Biologique Recherche USA. “With education and training being a fundamental part of our brand for the past 40 years, we are proud to support this new initiative that offers guidance and advice to up-and-coming spa leaders.”

Organizers hope to grow the program each year, pairing new spa manager mentees with experienced mentors around the world.  

Today the global spa industry is estimated at $94 billion with nearly 105,600 spas around the world employing 1.9 million, according to the 2013 Global Spa & Wellness Economy Monitor prepared for the Global Wellness Summit by SRI International. Details on the summit may be found at

Global Mentorship Pilot Program · 
e-mail [email protected]

(EDITOR’S NOTE: A full list of mentees and mentors for the first session of the project, which runs January through March, appears on the following pages. For photos, contact Kate Sornson at the Global Wellness Mentoring Project, [email protected] or 713.775.8706.)

January – March 2015 – Mentee and Mentor Pairings 

Mentee: Jeannine Bourque, Spa Supervisor, Ciel Spa at SLS Hotel, CaliforniaUSA, Hotel/Resort Spa
Mentor:  Angela Cortright, General Manager & Owner, Spa Gregories, CaliforniaUSA, Day Spas

Mentee: Elodie Dailland, Spa Manager, Domaine de Cice-Blossac, France, Hotel Spa
Mentor: Morgan LeFrancois, Corporate Spa Business Development Manager, Clarins, France, Hotel/Resort Spas

Mentee: Veneta Dimitrova, Assistant Spa Manager, Ayii Anargyri Natural Healing Spa Resort, Cyprus, Destination Spa
Mentor: Paris Kounoudis, Director of Spa, Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Abu DhabiUAE, Hotel/Resort Spa

Mentee: Dr. Smita Dsilva, Spa Manager, Park Hyatt Hyderabad, India, Hotel/Resort Spa
Mentor: Geeta Morar, CEO, SVA Spas, India, Hotel/Resort Spas

Mentee: Virginie Fliegans, Wellness & Spa Manager, Hotel Royal Palm, Mauritius, Hotel/Resort Spa
Mentor: Kent Richards, Area Director, Six Senses,&nbsp
;Asia Pacific & China, Hotel/Resort Spas

Mentee: Concetta Francavilla, Spa Manager, Club del Bien Vivre at Grand Hotel Sestriere, Italy, Hotel Spa
Mentor: Fabrizio Palmitessa, Spa Manager, Arthotel & Park by Clarion Collection, Italy

Mentee: Patricia Fuertes, Director of Operations, Rio Perdido Hotel & Thermal River, Costa Rica, Hotel/Resort Spa
Mentor: Jennifer Wayland-Smith, Spa Director, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Atlanta, GeorgiaUSA, Hotel/Resort Spa

Mentee: Franziska Haala, Spa Director, Bernardus Lodge, CaliforniaUSA, Hotel/Resort Spa
Mentor: Jim Croghan, Director of Spa & Recreation, The Grand Del Mar, CaliforniaUSA, Hotel/Resort Spa

Mentee: Afrah Hamdy, Director of Spa, Al Ghurair Rayhaan by Rotana, DubaiUAE, Hotel/Resort Spa
Mentor: Christian Kiefer, Spa Director, San Regis, Abu DhabiUAE, Hotel/Resort Spa

Mentee:Barbara Maddox, Spa Director, Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort, CaliforniaUSA, Destination Spa
Mentor: David Erlich, Spa Director, Glenwood Hot Springs, ColoradoUSA, Hotel/Resort Spa

Mentee: Shamma Nasser Al Nuwais, Founder & Owner, Anahata Wellness Spa, Abu DhabiUAE, Day Spa
Mentor: Francisca Atunes, Area Director, Six Senses, Middle East & Africa, Hotel/Resort Spas

Mentee: Vyara Nikolaeva Tosheva, Spa Manager, Mizan Spa & Fitness at Hilton Capital Grand, Abu DhabiUAE, Hotel/Resort Spa
Mentor: Neil Hewerdine, Vice President Spa Services, Kerzner International, Atlantis The Palm, DubaiUAE, Hotel/Resort Spa

Mentee: Nitesh Ranjan, Spa Manager, Aman Spa at Amanbagh Aman Resort, India, Hotel/Resort Spa; 
Mentor: Geeta Morar, CEO, SVA Spas, India, Hotel/Resort Spas

Mentee: Sara Josefina Sampaio Santos, Spa Manager, Caldas de Felgueira, Portugal, Medical/Hydrothermal Spa
Mentor: Adilia Oliveira, Spa Director, Caudalie at The Yeatman, Portugal, Hotel/Resort Spa

Mentee: Henrik Schuster, Spa Manager, Ayurveda and Nature Resort Seschlosschen, Germany, Hotel/Resort & Medical Spa
Mentor: Hans-Peter Veit, Spa Development Director, Oetker Collection, Germany, Hotel/Resort Spas

Mentee: Karen Smith, Spa Manager, SoSPA & Fitness at Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Hotel, Columbia, Hotel/Resort Spa
Mentor: Karin Cofino, Director Spa & Retail, Ritz-Carlton Spa, Aruba, Hotel/Resort Spa

Mentee: Mark White, Spa Manager, Peninsula Hot Springs, Australia, Hot Springs Day Spa
Mentor: Mark Sands, Area Director, Six Senses, Thailand & Vietnam, Hotel/Resort Spas