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Winners of the Spa of the Future Challenge Named; Defiant! Teen Spa Takes Top Place

Posted: July 3, 2012

The Global Spa & Wellness Summit recently announced the winners of its fourth annual “Spa of the Future” Student Challenge Competition. Top honors went to the University of Denver for its creative Power Spa for teen girls, while Cornell University, the University of Houston and Penn State University received second and third place awards respectively.

Each year leading universities submit designs for the most innovative and potentially profitable spa of the future, competing for cash prizes and global industry recognition. Student teams are responsible for developing all the conceptual and financial details of their project, and are then assigned a professional architect to bring their ideas to life.

Not only first prize, but a standing ovation, went to the University of Denver’s Defiant!, a spa that rejects the typical “pampering-patronizing-pink-and-sparkly-manicure” teen spa model to tackle the emotional, physical and social needs of real girls. Cornell University’s mente spa & studio, which reimagines the loud, exclusively body-focused gym as a sanctuary of social and intellectual engagement, took second place honors. Penn State University’s greenhouse concept, marrying intense sustainability practices with a southern hospitality approach, and the University of Houston’s ModerNature social spa, revolving around principles from the Slow Movement, tied for third.

“The judges were floored by the quality, detail and creativity in each school’s submission, with many observing these students delivered more innovative, thoughtful business plans than most professional consultants do,” said Cornell Professor Mary Tabacchi, co-coordinator of the Student Challenge. “Numerous delegates said they would employ these students in a heartbeat.”

Sue Harmsworth, Challenge co-coordinator and CEO and Founder of ESPA International also noted, “Given that a major research report just released at the summit revealed that there is a serious industry ‘talent gap,’ with far more jobs for well-educated spa operators and managers than can be filled, these, and other extraordinary students worldwide now pursuing careers in this industry, have very bright futures ahead.”