Dr. Regina M. Benjamin, US Surgeon General

Thanks to Deborah Szekely …

Thanks to Bernie

You may wonder: why a French guy on an Arizona spa? … First, spas are a tradition in Europe, but there is also a personal reason: I love the US, and I am what I define as a “frustrated of the Atlantic”, missing the US when I am in France, and missing France when I am in the US; And today, I have the immense privilege to live with one foot on each continent. More importantly, being from a distant country creates more distance, and distance creates perspective. More than a spa specialist, I am a traveller and a dreamer. And, as a citizen of the world, I am free to know, free to go, free to do and free to be… Isn’t it nice?!

Certain people, and I am one of them, believe that dreams can transform the world. For me, dream and reality constantly cross paths and It was this intuitive belief that led me not into politics, but into discovering the world. If I have been travelling the world for over 40 years now, it is because the world makes one dream. And that’s why today I am at Revolution, trying to disrupt and reinvent the future … Talking about future, what kind of future?

So — Perspective:

Let’s first go back 40 years ago, when I started working. At that time, not too long ago, there was no fax machine, no unleaded fuel, no soft drink cans, no bar codes, no emails, no digital pictures, no internet , no McIntosh, no GSM, no DHL, no Microsoft, no eBay, no Google, and certainly no Facebook or Twitter, nor Leed certified buildings and life expectancy was 7 years shorter than it is today. It went really fast! In the last fifteen years our society has made more progress than during the previous 100, and it will continue to go fast.

Now, after dreams, what are the facts?
We are entering a new age:

• The age of women: We are witnessing the feminization of all human activity. EVE-olution.

• The age of singles: Look around. Who are your neighbors? Increasingly they are single households. Approaching 50 percent of households in most major western cities are people who, for one reason or another, live by themselves.

• The age of cities: Instead of Genoa circa 1600, think Shanghai, China; instead of Venice think Mumbai, India. Cities, not nations, are on the move. Cairo in Egypt, a place we all talked about recently increased from 5.6M in 1970 to 19M last year. 19M, the population of the entire NY State, 3rd state in the US after California and Texas.

Last year, half of the world population was living in cities, first time in human history. In less than 20 years more than 60 percent of the world’s population will live in cities.

• The age of knowledge: Why are you, Americans, so innovative and, as a result, strikingly affluent? One of America’s successes lies in its ability to attract the greatest talent. The brightest minds from China, India, Russia, Brazil and elsewhere, flock to the US. Tacit knowledge rules: cultural hybridisation.

• The age of cheap, not bad, low cost. In fact quality with no frills.

• The age of noice: iPods, mobile phones, cars, voices, music. The relentless cacophony of urban living takes its toll. Think silence. The art of escapology will become the art of survival.

• The age of prevention: Healthcare systems are on the verge of collapse. We need lifestyle strategies. The future is nothing less than the creation of a new culture of health, a shift in health care from disease intervention to disease prevention and health promotion.

… I am sure Dr Regina Benjamin will not contradict me

  • The age of … age: Life expectancy is now 77.9 years in the US (81.1 in France) and still on the rise

And now that we know the facts, what are the consequences?

• We are not at the beginning of a new millennium, but on the threshold of a new civilization. A random selection from a huge list: we are in the age of the robot, the computer, interactive television, undersea cities, and solar-powered automated cars … an amazing evolution. At the same time, with soon (2050) two more billions inhabitants on our planet, almost all of them from Asia, Africa and Latin America, the most formidable challenge of all times: food scarcity, climate and immigration etc.

• A new Intellect: The Gutenberg millennium was the kingdom of the left-hand side of the brain, of reason and logic. In the Net millennium the right-hand side of the brain will prevail, together with intuition, paradox and freedom.

• The consumer society is becoming the information society, our mass society is shifting towards a society of individuals, and our standardised society is moving toward a hybrid society. This is what we are witnessing in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and others

• Too many crises, too much stress, too much passion, too many doubts, too much food, too much sugar, too much greed, too much everything will ultimately give us back to ourselves. We are moving away from a period of excess of passion, into a period of more reason. Excess starts to be seen as an issue. We are anticipating the end of a long period of “Irrational exuberance”.

All of this has significant consequences on the way we all behave: We have done some work trying to understand trends and select those key for the future of our Revolution companies, including first of all, Miraval, but also Zipcar, Exclusive resorts, Living social etc. They are not exhaustive.

The key ones:

• Jobs are the New Assets. Americans are rediscovering the job as the most valuable asset a person can have. More than a house and more than stocks. As a consequence, Relationship to ownership is going to change drastically. For a home, a car, an equipment which you use a portion of time, rental is not the solution (too rigid and expensive); Sharing is.

• Consumers are dropping out altogether from buying non-necessities. Value versus Frugality; Why pay for a wonderful flacon/package with 1 once of cream vs 3 ounces in a fair package. Why pay for ridiculous flowers in the lobby I do not need, and pay $20 for wifi which I need and free mini bar Why pay for a full day rent a car with only 2 or 3 pick up places in a city when you can rent it for an hour, at the corner of the street? Pay for what YOU have decided has value. Not what a company has decided is value for you.

• A new luxury: Luxury is becoming more personal and authentic, and less formulaic. The new luxury is about having things the way that YOU want them, not what the Michelin guide tells you that you should want them. More and more restaurant chefs refuse to receive a second or a third star for that reason. Today, many travelers’ vision of the perfect luxury vacation isn’t about ornate lobbies and staff in white gloves … it’s a picture of yourself in a spa, or a family sitting around a large table for dinner … on their private, outdoor terrace with the ocean as the backdrop …grandparents, parents, and children gathered together — laughing loudly …enjoying a gourmet meal in their beach clothes … with no maitre’d in a black tuxedo waiting in the wings.

And today, more and more of us want the luxury of a great-tasting meal prepared by with healthy, organic ingredients …. According to an authentic, regional recipe … with a tip or two from the chef about how we can make the dish at home ourselves.

• Ease of access: When you want — where you want Payments (Revolution money / bump / micro payment): you can read the Washington post wherever you are, whenever you want. VinFolio; Zipcar; available right here, delivered right away etc

• Authenticity: Consumers want authentic experiences that are intimate, unique and meaningful. People are starting to say “no” to too much perfection, or to an exaggerated excellence, “no” to the constant desire for still more, or still better. They are even starting to claim the right to imperfection, to approximations, to things done more instinctively. The years dominated by order are followed by years of controlled disorder. Yesterday’s culture was based on beautiful sites and excellent facilities. Tomorrow’s culture will be based on cultural, aesthetic and moral discoveries, rediscovering authenticity and simplicity. At Miraval, we prefer deep comfort to artificial Luxury.

And obviously Nature & sustainability: Consumers want to connect with nature, local culture, and the environment. Less what-about-me, more socially conscious

• We are also witnessing the birth of cultural hybridisation. The new destinations will be ideas and concepts, not only physical destinations. Those new destinations obviously include wellness and/or destination spas.

• Togetherness: We will find more value in other people, but we will do different things together. Yesterday’s free time meant conviviality, kindliness, a festive spirit, a chance of scenery. The free time of tomorrow will mean discovering oneself and other people: more emotion, doing things together, giving and receiving, taking part in things.

• Personal growth: Consumers expect to achieve a level of fulfillment during vacations that carry forward into everyday life (i.e. wellness, wellbeing, discovery, learning and mindfulness). Also, Mental recuperation, the recovery of creativity replaces recovery of the energy devoted to work because stress has replaced fatigue. Stress is heavier than fatigue: stress demands everything of you: your body, your mind, we all know that, but also your aesthetic sense and your intelligence. 40 years ago, we were tired, today we are stressed.

As a summary: Away from “look at me” wealth, more towards “life better lived”. Away from correcting, more toward preventing. Less about owning possessions, more about great experiences.

• ME … Ego-logy. Taking care of myself. Healthy Living

The search for meaning and a quest for spirituality, are increasingly important;

The search for happiness by the blossoming of the body and soul, for oneself is also important; David Cameron, the UK Prime Minister understand it well who wants to create a new measure of Happiness. Happiness is the new GDP.

Let me quote him: “It’s time we admitted that there’s more to life than money and it’s time we focused not just on GDP but on GW — general wellbeing.” Interesting that he has substituted “happy” with “wellbeing”. So much so that David Cameron is trying to get the concept up and running even in the midst of public service cuts and soaring living costs. Speaking recently, he added: “Wellbeing can’t be measured by money or traded in markets. It’s about the beauty of our surroundings, the quality of our culture and, above all, the strength of our relationships. Improving our society’s sense of wellbeing is, I believe, the central political challenge of our times.”

How happy are you?

Questions used by the independent national statistician are likely to focus on “evaluation”, “experience” and “purpose” and could include:

• How satisfied are you with your life these days, on a scale of 0 to 10

• Overall, how happy did you feel yesterday?

• How much purpose does your life have?

  • Are men and women treated fairly in the workplace and home?

the search for Time: the desire to take one’s time.

A quest for concrete dreams: no longer “ENJOY” but “BE”: people want to rediscover themselves, in terms of both body and spirit, AND rediscover others.

And last, a quest for health: from pampering to prevention, from fat food to healthy food, from sun burnt to body care … consumer will leave healthier.

This leads us to wellness.

Combining personal growth and healthy living is wellness. But, Susie Ellis has a better definition: “those things that enhance quality of life, improve health, and bring a person to a high level of well-being”

“Pampering”, she says, “speaks to the goal of most spa-goers of stress reduction and relaxation, and that in itself is preventive”. … Leads us to the subject of prevention.

Prevention has moved front and center in the health field, and the spa industry’s role in prevention-focused health should be greatly emphasized. For years spas have been “doing” prevention; i.e., focusing on exercise, nutrition, stress reduction and Eastern stay-well medical paradigms like Traditional Chinese Medicine or Ayurveda, years before new, cutting-edge hospitals unleashed “integrative health centers,” interweaving traditional medicine with many of these established spa approaches.

As SRI international says, spa is part of the Wellness Paradigm, where integrated proactive wellness oriented approaches are taken to improving the quality of life, as opposed to the conventional medically-oriented reactive approach that is taken to solve problems and is more of a treatment paradigm.

This is what led us to the creation of a Wellness program with Andy Weil and Miraval. We are very proud of this program. We believe that health is not just the absence of disease, but rather a sense of wholeness and balance that creates an inner resilience to meet the demands of living without being overwhelmed. This allows guests to interact with the world around them without succumbing to the pressures it presents. As a result of living this way, optimum health also brings with it a sense of strength, joy, and confidence.

Wellness, as it relates to health, is a series of strategies — personalized and specific to the individual — that allow optimum health to be achieved. An important initial step in creating these strategies involves asking the question: “what is my personal definition of health?”

Miraval provides an environment outside of a person’s reality — away from the pace and the pressures of life — to allow guests to ask questions like: Who am I? What’s important in my life? What are my core needs? Who are the people that are most important to me?

Once that vision of health is known, not all easy, the next step involves developing a plan to get there. Oftentimes it helps to utilize a coach to facilitate the process and guide you through your various options. The coach may also be a motivator and a source of inspiration to get you to try things you might not be comfortable with or have never experienced before; getting you out of your comfort zone. Miraval is the perfect vehicle to make this happen.

We strongly believe that wellness is going to drive the spa market of tomorrow. SRI estimates that there are already 290 M wellness consumers in the 30 most industrialized countries in the world … and it is growing fast … Huge!

Why this growth? We see 3 main reasons:

• First, the aging baby boomer population is reaching the point where healthcare is its number one concern. Motivated to stay healthy and maintain a vibrant lifestyle for as many years as possible, these boomers will look to other sources of wellness outside of the traditional western medicine model. They are open to experiencing all the options in the alternative and complementary approaches, and as the spa industry continues to expand into these field, so too will boomers, coming as guests to spas.

• Second, Generation Y, making up about 25 % of the US population, values earth and sustainability. But also, remember what we said earlier: Generation Y is much less reason and logic, but more intuition, paradox and freedom. In addition, like personal attention (Ego-logy). They are the result of (or the drivers for) the transformation from a consumer society into the information society that we talked about earlier: Generation Y is used to getting information when and where it wants it and will seek out healthcare and wellness opportunities beyond the existing offerings: intuition paradox and freedom. This generation has been raised on knowing the benefits of massage for stress management. A manicure or a pedicure for them is as regular a part of their routine care as brushing one’s teeth is to everyone else.

• The third reason wellness will drive the spa market are women. (Remember … EVE-olution!). Women have always sought out preventative measures and are quick to react to their own health issues. Men historically seek healthcare only during a crisis. Prevention is a new term to men and is usually brought to them by their female partners. Because spas primary customers are female, the wellness affiliation is an assumed perfect complement.

Back to Miraval: We think we are the ideal place for wellness to occur: Everything about our place speaks to the notion of becoming more mindful and self-aware, from the mountains and the painted skies to the lushness of the Sonoran Desert; from the artwork on the walls and throughout the grounds to the music of Native drum and flute or the mingling of birdsongs; from the smell of lavender in the spa to the glorious food or the comfort of that amazing bed we have. The place itself has an energy that invites deep reflection and transformation. All of the experiences that Miraval offers to challenge and question our lives — to probe ourselves and discover whether or not we are optimizing our health — allow guests to create a lasting memory and a metaphor for life change.

Add to that the Integrative Wellness program and you have a whole new dimension, with a health coach and a wellness team that can guide you through selecting your personal strategies for optimum health. Now that I know it so well, I wish I had known Miraval when I was 30!… But, never too late!

We will continue to expand quality complementary approaches to health that are cutting edge and benefits mind, body and spirit. Our spa and wellness programs, acupuncture, massage, behavioral health, nutritional counseling, nursing services, sleep enhancement, sexuality counseling and many others all combine treating the whole person, and because Miraval is about choice, we allow our guests to move through the Miraval experience as they wish, for whatever specific needs they have at the time of their stay, to help coach and provide tools to assist them in living better lives, and doing it at their own pace and as they wish.

Just as Dr. Regina Benjamin thinks.

Listen to an interview she gave to the NYT which I love because it really matches our philosophy of living the moment and freedom of choice which are conditions to wellness.

Q- When you were nominated for surgeon general, your critics tried to disqualify you on the basis of your weight, saying you were perpetuating rather than battling it.

A- My thought is that people should be healthy and be fit at whatever size they are.

Q- What sort of exercise do you recommend for people who don’t love it?

A- I want exercise to be fun; don’t want it to be work. I don’t want it to be so routine that you’re bored with it. We used to jump rope a lot and double Dutch and went to a disco to have fun and enjoy ourselves. We didn’t go to the disco because somebody said, Go dance for 30 minutes. 
Maybe we need to dance more as a nation. Yes, I love to dance, and whenever I’m at events and places with music, I will dance. That exercise is medicine. It’s better than most pills.

It cannot be said more simply! And I cannot agree more!

I have the same beliefs … and I love dancing!

Thank you for your attention

Philippe Bourguignon

Philippe Bourguignon is vice chairman of Revolution Places, a company that is creating a new model for travel and tourism that promotes and encourages a healthy lifestyle, Philippe establishes consumer brands that reflect those values. In addition, he serves as executive co-chairman of Exclusive Resorts, a carefully vetted collection of more than 300 privately managed multimillion-dollar residences in iconic destinations paired with highly personalized and intuitive service.

Originally published at medium.com