Insider's Guide to Spas
Bill Reed, AIA, LEED; Principal Regensis Group & Facilitator of GSN's 10th Anniversary Congress


Get to Your Essence at GSN Congress

Mary Bemis

Bill Reed is a man of many questions and insightful answers. As GSN’s 10th Anniversary Congress approaches, I spoke with him about finding the inspiration and the tools to really make a difference.

Who are you?

I’m an explorer and a change agent. I’ve had some pretty amazing spiritual experiences, which showed the power of love. In my practice of architecture, I first became aware of integrating buildings and nature, buildings and the sun. The beginning of my journey was a revelation that buildings could have free energy from the sun if we oriented ourselves properly. That was almost a religious experience. Then I engaged in understanding how to practically integrate multiple issues in the design process. We call this “Integrative Design.” The question this inspired me to ask is, Where do we stop integrating? The answer is not in any place I can see because the value this question leads to is, How do we illuminate the unity of life? How do we become united as a whole, dynamic, and mutually supporting living system? My purpose is to engage in how to reveal these systemic connections and meaning.

What do you hope to do at GSN’s 10th Anniversary Congress?

I help people get inspired about their personal journey, and how they can be supported in that to achieve real effect in the world. It is first necessary to gently destabilize people, to open the window to see new questions and that invite a journey into new territory. Then I help them ground beyond the woo-woo. The goal is to have everyone leave with something: the basic question: Who are you and what makes you unique? That is what essence is. Knowing that is the key to being much more effective in the world and true to ourselves.

“A spa, it seems to me, is an opportunity to . . . become reengaged and what it means to participate in an evolutionary journey of health.”

What is sustainability to you?

It’s not very hard; people make it hard because we aren’t answering the essential question. The question is, What are we sustaining with sustainability? 

What is the essence of spa-ness?

The essence of spa-ness is wellness. That needs to be unpacked because wellness is actually a whole system of living relationship that is not just about the individual, but about the health of the group and the interchange. Without the group, we don’t survive . . . and the group is healthy when it engages in a value-adding process with the larger systems that we are nested in. If any of those three domains aren’t healthy, the system collapses.

A spa, it seems to me, is an opportunity to reflect on that and to become reengaged and what it means to participate in an evolutionary journey of health. That means, the evolutionary journey is really critical because life is not static. As life evolves, we need to be evolving, and a better world is developing, along with it. The big question is: Do we maintain a static evolutionary stance, or are we evolving, and if so, what are we evolving towards? In other words, Who do I want to become, and what effect do I want to have in the world?

 How can the spa industry be a generator of wellness over time?

THE question for each of us, and the organizations we work within, is What is our role on this planet?The healthiest ecosystems on the planet have been when humans are engaged, co-evolving with that place. We have forgotten how to be in this kind of value-adding relationship. Really the question is, What relationships in our lives and life around us need transformation? What system of thinking needs transformation? As Gregory Bateson said, “The major problems of the world are the result of the difference between the way nature works and the way people think.”

Let’s talk about “spa as a node for the community.”

Is spa a community? People not in the industry perceive spa as a refuge, or insular—and if that’s all it is, that’s perfectly okay, but if you’re talking about sustainability and our role on the planet—what else can a spa be? Can we engage in a transformational process with our clients and the system of life that affects them, and that they affect?

Register for Green Spa Network’s 10th Anniversary Congress, here. 




Mary Bemis

Mary Bemis

Mary Bemis is editorial director of She is an award-winning spa journalist, honored with Folio's Top Women in Media Award, and the distinguished ISPA Dedicated Contributor Award. In 1997, she launched American Spa magazine, and in 2007, Mary co-founded Organic Spa magazine. A pioneer in the sustainable spa and beauty worlds, Mary is co-curator of Cosmoprof North America's Discover Green Pavilion. She sits on the board of Wellness Warrior, is a Global Wellness Day Advisor and a co-founder of the Washington Spa Alliance.