First Global Thermal Think Tank event brings hot springs industry leaders to Germany
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First Global Thermal Think Tank event brings hot springs industry leaders to Germany

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The first ever Global Thermal Think Tank took place 13-14 October at the Toskanaworld Hotel and Therme in Bad Orb, Germany, bringing together leaders in the hot springs industry from around the world for a packed agenda of presentations, networking, and the exchange of ideas.

The conference began with representatives from around the world giving short presentations on their hot springs culture, the types of hot springs in their market, and current and future trends.

Mike Wallace, brand manager for Danubius Hotels Group – which operates wellness hotels in Hungary, Great Britain, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Romania – introduced the session, saying: “If we want to be truly global, it’s important to look at things from outside our own country” – a theme that permeated the spirit of the conference, which focused on collaboration and open dialogue.

Wallace – and many others throughout the event – mentioned the need for clinical trials backing the health effects of thermal waters as an important factor in growing the industry.

James Clark-Kennedy, a hot springs researcher based in Australia, presented on bathers’ characteristics, motivations and experiences, looking at data from peninsula hot springs in Victoria. Clark-Kennedy’s research looks in part at the effects of hot springs visits on guests’ mood, sleep and mental health.

“If we can provide potential for reduced reliance on medication, that’s massive,” he said.

Ingo Schweder, CEO of GOCO Hospitality, which bought the Glen Ivy Hot Springs Resort in California this year, shared some of the things his company has done to boost both visits and guest satisfaction since taking over the resort.

These include extending opening hours into the evening, bringing in healthier food and an additional cafe, adding art and pottery workshops, and creating a summer evening ‘twilight concept,’ with films and entertainment.

Charles Davidson – founder, CEO and owner of Peninsula Hot Springs – detailed his plan to create a hot springs district in Victoria, and how he is coordinating packages for tourists that can include activities like biking, walking, swimming with dolphins, and horse riding in combination with stays at different hot springs resorts.

“It’s great for community-building, but it’s also great for our business,” said Davidson. “That collaboration is really important, and hot springs have the ability to be the magnet for an area.”

Professor Marc Cohen – who leads the Wellness Discipline in the School of Health and Biomedical Sciences at RMIT University in Australia – spoke to the audience about the importance of starting research into the ‘Bathing Biome’ to understand the bacteria in water – both good and bad – in much the same way as we’re studying the gut biome.

“Hot springs are the origin of life,” said Cohen. “...They can (also) contain the most varied living conditions on earth.”

And yet, he said, “As far as I know, no one in the world is studying the bathing biome. We have to look at water as a solution to many of the ills of the world. This group of GTTT – we can come up with innovations that don’t just help this industry, but that have global impact.”

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The first ever Global Thermal Think Tank took place 13-14 October at the Toskanaworld Hotel and Therme in Bad Orb, Germany, bringing together leaders in the hot springs industry from around the world for a packed agenda of presentations, networking, and the exchange of ideas.
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