In this issue, we celebrate the disruptors – innovators who are coming into the leisure industry with new ideas which are innovative enough to bring about radical change in the way things are done in their sector – whether it be spa, health and fitness, sport or hospitality.
Amen Iseghohi brought lessons and inspiration from his African childhood to bear when he launched his gym chain, Amenzone Fitness, from a site in Scottsdale Arizona, US in 2008. The gym eschews many standard practices, with no weight machines, no headsets allowed, a strong social approach and the aim of working as much on members’ self esteem as their bodies.
Instructors at Amenzone use a selection of different sized tyres and members’ bodyweight to create a wide range of workouts – classes include ‘primal fitness’ and a ‘yoga and rebel workout’. In a break from the silent, plugged-in gyms which are the norm, members are encouraged to talk to each other, while instructors shake hands with members after workouts and mentor them.
You can read about Iseghohi’s visionary business and how he’s growing it as a global brand on page 36.
The potential of the spa sector to attract the huge numbers of consumers who don’t visit spas is attracting attention from investors and operators and on page 40 we talk to Nic Ronco – a Frenchman living in New York – about his growing day spa concept, YeloSpa.
Yelo sells time by the minute, has multiskilled therapists and offers sleep pods as well as treatments. Ronco piloted his concept in New York City and is now rolling it out using a franchise model.
In the resorts market, many global operators parachute Western-style operations into developing and third world countries, then charge Western prices and employ cheaper local labour to create a huge profit margin. It’s a model which can be found all over the developing world.
In the Caribbean, entrepreneur Val Kempadoo says this approach is “not dissimilar to that of the plantation model of yesteryear: one of maximum extraction and exploitation.” He says, “It’s very sad that after 500 years we’re still doing pretty much the same thing.”
Kempadoo has embarked on building a business on the island of St Kitts that breaks this model and sets a new direction for resort development by being owned and operated by locals. His upscale, sustainable resort – called Kittitian Hill – will open in phases through this year and next and will be aimed at wealthy New Yorkers and Londoners, as St Kitts has direct flights from both cities.
Kittitian Hill has already attracted the attention of other Caribbean governments keen to do similar projects. You can read our interview with Kempadoo on page 46.
Innovation is the lifeblood of this fast-moving, fashion-conscious industry and sharing news of disruptive thinking enables the industry to benefit from insights into the inspiration, work and passion of others. I hope you enjoy reading about these visionary disruptors.
Liz Terry, editor @elizterry