Blog. 15 April 2022

Educating hotel General Managers in the concept of Wellness and Wellbeing

Written by Rocco Bova

Educating hotel General Managers in the concept of Wellness and Wellbeing

I have been in this business for over 25 years and it’s only recently that it’s beginning to appear a clearer understanding of what wellness and wellbeing is for me. For the average General Manager to have a gym, a couple of cabins for massage and a sauna was all it was needed to be called a SPA. Really?

My name is Rocco Bova, an international Hotelier with over 25 years of experience in 11 countries and worked with the best luxury brands like Four Seasons, St Regis, Aman and other independent boutique hotels.

So much has happened over the past 10 years that a lot of us (yes, I include myself in the group) had to catch up. The latest trends have brought so many changes in the traditional SPA as one would see it and perceive it.

From micro-dosing to IV Vitamin injections, from cold rooms to salt therapy and from chromo-therapy, to shamanism, are among some of the regular names used today in moderns SPAs around the world.

So, what is a GM doing to ensure he/she is up to date and can talk the same language as its customers?

Continuous education is, in my opinion, one of the answers. Next is to put together a team of experts and let them do their job, give tools and resources, so they can provide guests with unbelievable experiences. And the last is to convince owners and investors that a SPA & Wellness centre, while it may not be the cheapest of the investments when it comes to build and design a world class service and product, it can be, after room division, the most profitable.

My personal journey in the wellness and wellbeing industry has been rather unique. At the beginning of my career in Hospitality, I had absolutely no clue about SPAs and wellness center. To me it was associated with keeping fit (gym) or beauty (salons, skin centers).

Now, after nearly 10 years in managing Wellness Resorts and educating myself in this wonderful and exponentially growing industry, I feel a lot more versed with talking about it, trying new therapies and even venturing in the more traditional and ancestral healing with rituals which go back thousands of years.

Mexico in particular is a special country with a native culture which goes back millennials and deep roots still much alive in the modern culture of many towns and villages scattered all over the huge territory.

Here one can experience from ancestral healing therapies to psychedelic rituals with the use of the secretions from the skin of a particular specie of frog to ‘’peyote’’, a cactus growing mainly in the central/northern desertic area of Mexico.

Indeed, this “extreme wellness’’ practices are not new. From Mexico down to Peru, these practices have been performed by shamans for centuries and often are life-changing. Many, in their mid-life crisis or even youths at a turn of their life, have travelled to Latin America to try this new experience.

But ancestral wellness is not only in the Americas, parts of South East Asia, like Bali and Thailand have their own version of shamans performing ancient rituals where tourists participate.

This, in my opinion is a trend to watch as I see more and more hotels embracing this concept.

Finally, I would like to mention a more modern version of shamanism. Since about 5 years an incredible leader named Chip Conley, founded the Modern Elder Academy, a place where an ‘’elder’’ (generally himself) teaches people how to transition from older to elder and how to take advantage of this transformation from knowledge and experience to wisdom.

It’s incredible how this new form of modern shamanism has attracted many people and now it’s actually evolving into a community where people can live (at the end of the article you’ll find a link to an article about this topic)

I also want to touch on architecture and wellness and how much advancement has been done in projecting and designing places to ensure that people’s state of mind is taken into consideration.

I am sure you have heard about biofilic design, the integration of nature in design which provides spaces proven to enhance cognitive performance, lower stress and reduce toxins.

Well, this and more is happening in the wellness industry today. I guess if we are not keeping ourselves up to date, we will remain behind and won’t be able to take full advantage of this trend, particularly if we are in the hospitality industry.

My last recommendation to my colleagues is to subscribe to newsletters, read magazines, books, participate at conferences and webinars to catch up with this evolving trend or take the risk to remain uneducated and miss this multi-billion dollar industry.




Rocco Bova

Successful hotelier abroad for almost 30 years and delighted with his choice. His education began in London at Westminster College, and continued in Singapore where he graduated from Cornell University.

Fifty-year-old originally from Scilla in Calabria, Rocco Bova has a remarkable career that includes leadership positions in fine dining and luxury hotels in Italy, the UK, the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Mexico. A passionate, energetic and enthusiastic personality, with over 20 years of international experience in 11 countries around the world.

He has worked for the most prestigious luxury companies such as Four Seasons, Hilton, St Regis and Aman Resorts. General manager for 4 years of the Chablé Resort & SPA, an award-winning resort located in the Yucatan jungle in Mexico, today Rocco has decided to take a period of reflection to be next to his family.


Follow Rocco Bova: Linkedin or Instagram: @rocco.bova