New York, New York (Feb. 23, 2011): The Global Spa Summit (GSS), the leading annual event for spa and wellness industry executives, has announced the unique focus, and participating universities, for its 2011 Student Strategy Challenge taking place in Bali, Indonesia from May 15-18. While the concept and parameters for each Student Challenge vary each year, it always involves graduate students from major global academic institutions competing to create “the spa and wellness concepts of the future.”

The 2011 Student Challenge, the “Profitable Spa Design Competition,” involves graduate student teams from business or hospitality management programs working to produce innovative, aesthetically pleasing spa concepts that are also completely functional and profitable. As students develop the conceptual and financial details of their spa project, they will work with a high profile professional architect that will assist, and collaborate with, the students in fulfilling their designs.

The 2011 Student Challenge coordinators are Global Spa Summit Board Members Sue Harmsworth (CEO & Founder, ESPA International) and Mary Tabacchi (PhD, Professor, Cornell University of Hotel Administration). The four universities from across Asia selected to participate are: The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Cornell-Nanyang Institute of Hospitality Management (Singapore), Gadjah Mada University (Indonesia) and Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

“The special focus of this year’s Challenge is very much in keeping with the 2011 Summit theme ‘Engage the Change. The Customer. The Money. The Future,'” noted Susan Harmsworth, Student Challenge Co-Chair. “Students will be tasked with devising a spa concept/business model that is not only imaginative and beautifully designed, but that’s also totally feasible, and, most important of all, profitable. Too often only one element of that equation is addressed, and I think these parameters will generate especially valuable and realizable projects.”

Students will first compete against one another at their respective institutions. Each school’s winning team, along with their faculty directors, will then present their concepts to the GSS delegation and a VIP panel of judges in Bali. The students will compete for cash prizes, and the winning projects will be published locally and internationally. The GSS grants all participating students and faculty members complimentary registration to the Summit, and competitors will be invited to attend all sessions and events as “student delegates,” bringing their own unique insights to the forum.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to discover the future leaders of the spa industry. The 2011 project is both challenging and very educational, given that students have to complete a great deal of research, apply their financial and business acumen, along with conceiving an excellent design,” noted Professor Mary Tabacchi, Co-Chair. “They will have the opportunity to work closely with an architect/designer of real stature. One of the most critical issues for spa operators is that designers, architects and their developers often forget how to construct spas for smooth and profitable operations and return on investment.”

Student Challenge Background:

The Global Spa Summit, with the help of the world-renowned Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (ELH), launched the first Student Challenge at the 2009 Summit in Interlaken, Switzerland. Very popular with delegates, it quickly became a staple component of each year’s agenda. The first Challenge involved ELH competing against Institut de Management International (Paris) to innovate a “spa of the future” that would appeal to younger demographics. Last year’s Challenge involved teams from the University of Southern California (U.S.) and Istanbul Technical University (Turkey) competing to design an environmentally- and culturally-aware new spa/wellness destination in a historic region of Turkey (the venue of the 2010 Summit).

The fifth-annual Summit will take place at the Laguna Resort & Spa in Bali, Indonesia from May 15-18. The GSS is the only event where senior spa and wellness executives come together in a think tank-like environment, and delegates will experience three days of keynote addresses, interactive panels and workshops, research presentations and hosted dining and networking events.

Summit registration is open, and can be accessed at: