Following spa consultancy Raison d'Etre's ownership re-structure, The Good Spa Guide met new sole owner, Anna Bjurstam, to talk about all things spa over coffee and shortbread at The Goring Hotel, London.
When you're sent to meet the heralded Master of Spa, you're bound to be a little apprehensive. But Anna Bjurstam is about as close to the personification of a spa experience as you can imagine. Welcoming, calm, warm and friendly, you'd be hard-pressed not to like her.
The science of spa treatments
When it comes to spa, there doesn't seem to be anything Anna doesn't know. When we met, she had just returned from the Global Spa Summit in Bali (lucky devil!), and was keen to tell us all about it. One thing that got us talking was the new evidence-based medicine portal for spa and wellness therapies the team had been working on, which went live recently. This free resource gives you instant access to hard, clinical data about spa and wellness therapies and treatments. It presents the information in a way that allows you to draw your own conclusions, based on scientific evidence, as to the effectiveness of various treatments.
Science and spa turned out to be a passionate subject for both sides. We passed a merry half-hour talking about the claims and insinuations that are sometimes made about spa treatments -- and the reality behind them. It's great to know that those high-up in the spa world feel so strongly about the consumer. Anna was very clear in her view of some spa-related crazy claims.
We agreed that the information surrounding infrared saunas needs some clarification. Anna was also pretty adamant that PowerPlate simply wasn't all it was cracked up to be. Other shared bugbears included Hopi ear candles and oxygen facials. We both agreed that their benefits weren't quite what some people claim.
It wasn't all doom and gloom, though. Anna hinted that there is some new equipment in development that combines a range of cellulite-busting tactics (including heat, cold and colour therapies) which is producing some very impressive results.
Anna was keen to tell us about Raison d-Etre's new social spa concept. She plans to develop spa environments geared specifically towards the 20-40 demographic, for whom socialising is a big part of the spa experience. She describes the combination of serenity, silence and socialising as "a Facebook-type spa".
The voice of the people
Another shared passion was that of the power of the people. We both agreed that economic changes and increases in the use of social media have resulted in a much more powerful voice emerging from the public domain. We asked Anna how she viewed this new-found ability to praise or punish a spa for their service. "A bad review is a gift", she told us earnestly. "Deal with a problem correctly and you'll get a loyal customer for life."
We quite agree.
26th March 2014
Instant results; jasmine and frangipani scents; hot steam rooms; a good selection of magazines; modernist decor.
Whale noises (on CD, not in the pool hopefully); hard massage beds; tiny toilet cubicles; being spoken to like a child; lukewarm pools.
Behind the scenes