Leslie Lyon, Chair, Global Internship Program, [email protected]
Kate Sornson, Project Manager,
[email protected]



Mentors guide Mentees towards Spa Leadership
to become architects & builders of a Well World!

by Jean-Guy de Gabriac
Co-chair Global Mentorship Program
CEO/Founder TIP TOUCH International

BRUSSELS, Belgium (October 6, 2015) – Inventories, client databases, and KPI dashboards can be easily managed, but not people!  In order to give their very best, aestheticians, therapists, receptionists, fitness/yoga coaches require the inspiration and guidance of skilled managers whom they trust and admire. Working with Spa teams for almost 15 years now, I have noticed that motivation is a door that can only be opened from the inside.  One of the keys that the Spa and Wellness industry can use to meet its challenge of developing and nurturing Spa Leaders are structured mentorship programs. 

Although mentorship programs can be found in large corporations—and the words “Mentors & Mentoring” grow increasingly popular in the press—structured mentorship programs are rare to find in the Spa and Wellness industry.  The Global Mentorship Pilot Program which officially launched in 2014 during the Global Wellness Summit in Marrakech, Morocco, is an outstanding example of what can be done to pro-actively contribute to a Well World.

In order to make the program “walk, run, and fly!”, I assembled a team of passionate Spa industry professionals who had been part of the ‘Education Roundtable’ that was prominently featured at the Global Spa & Wellness Summit held in Aspen.  Deborah Smith (principal, Smith Club & Spa Specialists) was appointed co-Chair & Regional Supervisor USA, Shahida Siddique (CEO, Altearah) supervised the Middle-East, Geeta Morar (CEO, SVA Spas) focused on India, while I developed the program’s reach in Europe.

Our Committee set out in earnest to let motivated, high-potential Spa Managers with at least two years experience know about our free mentorship program so they might have the opportunity to apply for one of the 3-month long sessions.  Since the program’s intent was to be mentee-centric, we selected ISPA’s “Body of Knowledge” as a contextual benchmark mentees could refer to to pinpoint the top three content areas in which they most desired to improve their capabilities. We next identified and approached a group of distinguished veteran Spa Directors (minimum five years experience) who generously agreed to volunteer their time, and carefully matched each of these with a Mentee from their geographic region.  

Thanks to the pioneering sponsorship of Biologique Recherche, we hired Kate Sornson as part-time Administrative Coordinator.  Kate revealed herself as a true gem, breathing and living the spirit of the program, and ensuring program quality. Then Joanne Berry of the US-firm Spa Remedies hopped on board to help start the buzz on social media and at events.  Thus was launched the first-ever global Mentorship initiative for Spa Managers by Spa Directors in which 32 Mentees and 17 Mentors from 22 countries enthusiastically participated. 

Rather than following some type of “Ask the Expert” format, Mentors were able to develop a relationship with their Mentee over time, encouraging them to dig deep to find new perspectives and creative options to the real-time challenges they faced.   

A detailed post-questionnaire the committee developed demonstrated these successful outcomes:

  • Mentors believed their Mentees needed the most help in Leadership & Management (59%), Strategic & Business Planning (50%), Human Resources (41%) and Priority Management (41%),
  • 69% of Mentees perceived they had great improvement in their Leadership & Management skills,
  • Mentees said they absolutely felt motivated (86%), with a boost in their confidence and also greatly benefited from the program in terms of financial management (analyzing P&L reports),
  • 100% of Mentors & Mentees believe the Global Mentorship Pilot Program benefits the Spa & Wellness industry,
  • After the first session, 73% of Mentors said they would volunteer again in 2016, and 76% of Mentees said they would volunteer as Mentors!

In order to share useful resources about Mentorship & Spa Leadership to as many as the 130,000 Spa Managers across the world, we launched in June 2015 a dedicated website: with articles, profiles of Mentors & Mentees, and online application forms.  The past few months we have been busy exploring ways in which the utility and interactivity of this platform could be expanded in 2016.

With an ardent desire to amplify ‘good to great’ in each of us, we aim to create the largest ripple effect so we can touch the lives of many, rather than just take good care of a lucky few.  That was the spirit that Anna Bjurstam (owner of Raison d’Etre and VP of Spas & Wellness at Six Senses), infused back in Aspen (2012), and that is what we are striving to achieve with patience, persistence, and dedication.  Toward that end, in 2016 the Global Mentorship Program will reach mentees in 30 countries, with about 50 Mentors and 100 Mentees.

We wish to acknowledge of the generous support of our platinum sponsors Biologique Recherche & Gharieni, and also the contributions of Altearah Bio & Tip Touch International.  With their help, the 2016 program will continue to be at no charge for Mentees.  Together, these sponsors—with more to join—will ensure Spa Directors/Mentors paying forward (and learning themselves!), and Spa Managers/Mentees boosting their career so as to become inspirational spa leaders in their own right and active architects & builders of the global Well World. 

We are also extremely grateful for the support of Associations and media who helped publicize the Global Mentorship program, namely:

  • International Spa & Wellness Associations: Global Wellness Institute, ISPA, Day Spa Association, Arizona Spa & Wellness Association, Florida Spa Association, Houston Spa Association, Spa & Wellness Association of Africa, South African Spa Association, ABC Spas (Brazil), Caribbean Spa Association, Cyprus Spa Association, and Label Spas de France.
  • Trade publications: PULSE, Spa Business, Spa Opportunities, Leisure Opportunities, European Spa, Day Spa Magazine, Skin Inc, Professional Beauty Magazine (UK & GCC), Hotel Executive Business Review, Profession Bien-Etre, AQUAE, Cabines (France & Russia),, Spa by Anne Autret.

If you wish to actively contribute about Mentorship in 2016 & make a world of a difference, then reach out to the GMP Committee Members at GWS Mexico or by email: [email protected]