Editor’s Note: This is the third in an Insider’s Guide to Spas’ series showcasing regional spa groups. The series was inspired by the historic gathering of the nation’s regional spa groups at the Washington Spa Alliance’s Annual Symposium at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. When I first called on all of the various leaders of the regional spa groups [as a founding WSPA Board member and Symposium Chair], I wasn’t sure if they would actually come together—or that it would amount to anything—but it certainly did. Today, I’m so proud to see the regional and national spa groups really working together for the first time.
The Florida Spa Association, founded by Ilana Moses, held its first event at the Doral Golf Resort in the summer of 2010. Since then, the FSA has held a number of successful regional events that are creative, fun, and educational. “I envisioned an organization that could offer value to our spa community in an intimate format, “shares Moses. “In a region covering such a high volume of destination spas, resorts, hotels, country clubs, and day spas, I found it fascinating that an organization solely dedicated to Florida did not exist.” Here’s the story of the Florida Spa Association.
Why and when did you start the Florida Spa Association?
The Florida Spa Association (FSA) came to me as a vision in early 2009, after attending several regional events/socials and experiencing the intimacy of smaller venues and the interaction among spa leaders and vendors. Having been in sales since the 1980s as an independent account executive representing several high-profile skincare brands, the concept of a friendly regional environment—as opposed to large national conferences—was very appealing to me. I believed there was a need to action and to develop this concept in Florida. I envisioned an organization that could offer value to our spa community in an intimate format. Having moved from New York to Florida, and finding myself in the epicenter of the spa industry was eye opening. In a region covering such a high volume of destination spas, resorts, hotels, country clubs and day spas, I found it fascinating that an organization solely dedicated to Florida did not exist. It was at that point that I decided to take on the challenge of establishing an association and to create a platform to unify our Florida spa leaders with our industry vendors and suppliers. After forming an advisory board, consisting of high-profile and well-respected spa directors, we outlined our mission. After a year of planning, we launched our first event at the Doral Golf Resort on June 24, 2010, and over 135 people attended. The event proved to be the perfect start.
What is your mission?
The initial mission for the FSA, which still exists, was to promote Florida as the finest destination in the United States for a spa experience, as well as to build a network based on the trust and professionalism among our spa peers. Our goal also included education for our spa professionals about the value and benefits of spa. Our association aims to encourage membership and participation of resorts, spas, and educational formats and programs in Florida to take part in creating a professional network with common goals. We find that it is beneficial to participate in events and social get-togethers that would be appropriate for our spa industry to achieve intended opportunities that benefit spa business. Finally, our deepest and most passionate mission is to promote health and wellness among the community and spread this message throughout the general public.
I am privileged to be surrounded by passionate, integrity-driven, and talented spa leaders. I owe the success of the FSA to our advisory board and committees who have supported my vision and contributed to our evolution.
How many members do you have, and how do you serve them?
We have approximately 150 members enrolled in the FSA for 2016, and our membership has been growing steadily since the onset of our association. We facilitate both our spas and vendors by addressing their individual needs and goals to assist in improving business practices, and we create professional opportunities and strengthen business relationships. We provide four annual events every year for our members and offer unique opportunities for spas to network with other spas and connect with our supporting vendors. We offer opportunities for our vendors to highlight and promote their brands and engage in meeting with spa leaders. We offer education through the presentation portion of our events, and we provide a monthly newsletter that keeps the spa community up to date on industry news and cutting-edge information. We collaborate with our fellow organizations to offer support in an effort to build and raise awareness for our spa community. We provide a marketing tool called Go-Getters which announces employment changes taking place in our spa community. Being that our industry is very fluid and many changes are taking place on a regular basis, our Go-Getters is designed to keep our community up to date on the status of our spa leaders and vendors. We value our members and followers and want to make sure that they are recognized and appreciated.
Are there any highlights of the association that you’d like to share?
The highlights that stand out for me are the events and socials that have been charity driven and/or have had a purpose. One such event was held at SI Spa, Marriott Palm Beach Singer Island in May 2015, which was focused on educating our spas on the need to provide services for people undergoing cancer treatments, and how a spa experience can make such a difference in their journey. Our featured keynote presenters were Julie Bach, executive director for Wellness for Cancer and Vicky Weiss of Faye’s Light. They both educated and enlightened our spa guests on the need and availability to provide services that would cater to those in need of a special spa experience. Many spas have embraced this education and incorporated these valuable treatments into their menus. This is such a pivotal accomplishment for our community in an effort to promote a sense of healing, acceptance, and compassion for challenging situations and also a path to wellbeing.
During the Christmas holidays in 2011, we held an event called “Spalidays.” Each guest arrived with a toy gift which was placed under a magnificent Christmas tree. These gifts were donations for the charity Toys for Tots. We had several chapters of the Junior League that attended this event as our guest presenters. We held a cocktail social called “Pure Love” during the Christmas holidays in 2015, at Pure Love Spa at The Pelican Grand Resort. Our theme was “when charity starts at home.” The event was dedicated to raising money for two Florida families that had very young children fighting cancer and undergoing harsh cancer treatments. We raised over $3,000 for these families in four hours and experienced the fulfillment of giving. These events were solely from the heart, with purpose, and were extremely gratifying.
You have become a model of sorts for other regional groups. To what do you owe your success?
I am privileged to be surrounded by passionate, integrity-driven, and talented spa leaders. I owe the success of the FSA to our advisory board and committees who have supported my vision and contributed to our evolution. I value our FSA team and the knowledge we share. The FSA is led by a team of volunteers that are committed to supporting our mission, and is based on passion and dedication to stand behind our goals. There is an amazing chemistry among the FSA team that is so energizing and motivating, and which has evolved into solid friendships and a sense of family. My philosophy is to allow people to flourish through positive reinforcement and have the flexibility to allow everyone to have a voice. We work together as a team and lead by example. Team spirit and the unity of our association have enable the FSA to grow throughout the years.
What does the state of Florida offer in spas that sets it apart from others?
There are so many wonderful organizations in the industry that offer a variety of opportunity for our spa community. What makes the FSA different from these organizations and associations is simply that we are the only association that is exclusive to the State of Florida. With that said, our focus is devoted to the needs of our members and spa community. Education and guidance are key factors. Providing governing laws and regulations that apply to our state are necessary, and we are committed to providing necessary education for our spas. We focus on events that provide opportunity for networking and strengthening business relationships. Our events are unique in the sense that they are themed and each event is different from one another. We make our events an enjoyable experience for all attendees, as we feel that entertaining events provide better results and participation.
What has been your most interesting and successful event, and why?
This is a difficult question to answer because we have had so many. Over the past eight years, there have been a variety of creative, unique, and entertaining occasions. All our events have a theme and we always change it up.
One that comes to mind was a cruise held in June 2011, called “Fire on the Water.” Sponsored by Babor when they launched their Brazilian line, this event was over-the-top and memorable. We had a DJ and Brazilian dancers in costume, and everyone danced the night away, cruising the waterways of Fort Lauderdale and the Palm Beaches.
Our vendors got extremely creative at the event we held at the Seminole Hard Rock Resort in 2012. Called “Game Night,” our vendors offered a unique game at each of their tables. One vendor had a roulette wheel of giveaway products, and where the wheel landed that specific product was given to our spa guest. Each vendor had a distinctive game, and our featured keynote was a presentation by Jessie Cormier of Associated Skincare Professionals themed “Winner or Loser, It’s Your Choice” based on the importance of spa insurance.
One of my favorite events was our 4th Anniversary held at the James Royal Palm in Miami Beach in July 2014, called “Welcome Wellness.” The day started with a choice of either a 45-minute yoga class or a beach walk followed by a delicious healthy breakfast buffet. It was a day filled with networking, mini-treatment experiences, a picnic lunch and ended with an anniversary cocktail celebration with balloons, party hats, and favors galore.
The event that had me at “Wow” was our “Spa Elegance” held at the Breakers this past August. This event was the epitome of luxury, from start to finish, Breakers style. We just ended our year with an event that personified the future of spa at our “Miami Spa Life” event at Turnberry Isle’s newly renovated spa.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I love our industry. I have a passion for the ability that we have, as a spa community, to influence people’s lives to teach them and guide them on how to make their lives more fulfilling. The spa space is a microcosm of life itself. We have a unique opportunity to affect how people live their lives on a daily basis and promote wellness, fitness, mental wellbeing, as well as a state of relaxation and calm to help them cope with today’s hectic world. There isn’t another industry that I can think of that possesses and embodies the quality and passion to make our lives and the lives of others healthier and more meaningful.