From Russia with love!

Moscow, the city that never sleeps. Russians love new things, get bored with what was new a year ago, and when it comes to spa, the key is to have many small brands. Preferably known brand, but not those that can be bought elsewhere. And instant results, that are not only felt but seen.

We have gone around to lots of spas, but to be honest the spa market is just beginning. Mandara has a good spa here, Intercontinental just opened 2 weeks ago (we did the it is of course great), Ritz has an Espa spa, Swiss hotel Purovel spa is really good but there are not so much more. For a city with 17 million people, this is definitely an opportunity IF you understand the market. And the market is complicated, with all its hidden values, rules and of course beaurcratic certificates. The Dominique Chenot spa outside Moscow is beautiful, but the problem is that the presidents wife likes to go there (lives close by), and she calls 30 min before she goes, and then everyone has to leave straight away, no matter if you are in the shower, having a massage or swimming! Not that easy to run a spa then…..

What we LOVED was Madonna’s new club Hard Candy, that recently opened. It was not so much the club, but the atmosphere, great personalities working there – hip but also extremely friendly. The very gay “Stiletto Fitness” (yes fitness and class to walk in EXTREMELY high heels) was to die for, “Belly dancing” so much fun and I have problem walking still since my “Kettlebell Power”. Membership from €4,000/year – and yes, it is worth it!

Also went to Sandya Banya, rented a VIP room to experience the real Russian deal, and there you start with some drinks (we skipped the vodka) and pancakes (it is pancake week here), and then off to the special Banya treatment, where again we were whipped pink by oak veniks (whisks) and then had a superb soap massage. Therapist was excellent and it was like a massage, but with soap and then just a very quick (but hard!) scrub. Loved it!

Perhaps not equally happy with the fish (picture) that I ordered the other day, but at least it caught my attention. Of course, you can’t go to Moscow without going to the Red Square (me on the picture) and learn about its fascinating history.  And seeing Putin passing by really quickly (he closes the road when he is going somewhere and you wait for about 30 min).

Tomorrow on my way home!




A couple of days in Keiv got us all the knowledge we needed to understand the spa market. The problem with the Eastern European states is that spa is a new thing, for them the wellness component has been represented by Sanatoriums (Kur hotels) and beauty by salons. They are not quite sure how to define spas, it is medical like sanatoriums or beauty?

We went to big spa conference, with invited speakers from the US and big exhibition – and it was not exactly what we expected. Empty, no visitors very few exhibitors (who all felt they were losers) and about 15 people sitting listing to the long travelled and experienced speakers (see picture of exhibition). Tragic comic, as we say in Sweden.

Then we went around Kiev to the most famous spas, and well…. It was like travelling back to the 80’s in design and it was more salons than spas. Very colorful design (think bright pink and green) and plastic Jacuzzis. Ok spas are Hyatt and Intercontinental, but there are yet no great spas.

What they do have are fantastic clubs, very exclusive with great gyms, functional training, yoga, dance, treatments, restaurants, spa, hair and beauty salon. We went to train at Favorite Club, and it was excellent and you can become a member for about €2,000 up to €8,000 for the most expensive club (Grand Prix).

Also tested to eat some true Ukrainian food, among those lard (fat) that is a delicacy (see picture), I did have some great trouble eating it….

Kiev, however, is a stunningly beautiful city, with many cultural buildings and activities and it is a great city to visit. They are right now gearing up for the European championship in soccer and we will be gearing up to give Kiev some amazing spas!



Hypoxi – now did it work???


I lost 1kg, which is nothing – BUT between 2-6cm. 2 can be water, but 6 can’t and that was around the stomach. Actually quite good, as it was there I had some “residue” from being pregnant twice.

Having looked into this, tried it and seen that it works – I can actually recommend it.

However, it does not help if we continu to eat the way we did before. A great kickstart!

Now off to Ukraine and Russia for 8 days, will post some interesting news during the trip.


Hypoxi – weightloss that works???

A client of ours heard of Hypoxi, a way to loose fat in desired areas.

Well! Have heard that one before, but as always we are open and said let’s investigate… What their web site say

Hypoxi is the brainchild of Dr Norbert Egger, an esteemed Austrian sport scientist.  Over the course of many years working in the weight loss industry, he noticed that many women struggled to reduce fat in their problem areas of the stomach, hips and thighs despite regular exercise and a healthy diet. As a sport scientist, Egger knew that good circulation and exercise are critical to achieve weight loss in a specific area. With this knowledge in mind, he set about developing a revolutionary training device.

HYPOXI is the first training concept to combine alternating high and low pressure with exercise to help target fat in those areas which just won’t budge. The simple 30 minute workout is safe, pain free and completely natural –helping your body to tap into stubborn fat stores while you work out.  In just 12 sessions, clients can lose up to 30 centimetres in circumference from their problem areas – more than what you would typically achieve through conventional training. 

Best way to find out is of course to try it myself and luckily Planet Fitness has started just a month ago, and I am not sitting in a vaccum type chamber with some wet suit skirt on and cycling in a VERY moderate pace for 30 min. (NB! It is not me on the picture).

Now, the interesting thing is that we have studied it, Patrick – who some of you know, is extremely meticulous and even he is saying that it might just wok! I have now done 10 of my 12 sessions and on Tuesday next week it is time to measure the result. They say that I should loose around 3-7cm around waist and buttocks. And there is no diet involved, only not to eat carbs 6-7 hours after, which is logical.

So stay tuned – the report is coming on Tuesday!



Parabens – new research on links to breast cancer

There has been a lot of discussions about parabens in products, and if they are safe or not. Today, many product companies has chosen to take them away, as there are more and more research showing that they can cause a multitude of diseases. A Paraben is a preservative and this then has to be replaced by something else that keeps the product from going off, it is often replaced by phenoxyethanol, which is not all that much better, but consumers today have not yet been used to look out for this ingredient as well.

All we can say, is that read what is on the products that you use, if there is something on there that you do not understand, google it!


Here is the research article!


Parabens in Breast Tissue not Limited to Women who Have Used Underarm Products New research into the potential link between parabens and breast cancer has found traces of the chemicals in breast tissue samples from all of the women in the study. Parabens are commonly used as preservatives in cosmetics, food products and pharmaceuticals. As the research shows that parabens are measurable in the tissue of women who do not use underarm cosmetics the parabens must enter the breast from other sources.

Breast tissue samples were taken from 40 women, with the results showing that all of the women had at least one paraben in their tissue. The research, published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology, was a collaborative study led by Dr Philippa Darbre, University of Reading and Mr Lester Barr, University Hospital of South Manchester.

The research team studied tissue samples from 40 women undergoing mastectomies between 2005 and 2008 for first primary breast cancer in England. In total, 160 samples were collected, four from each woman, covering serial locations from the axilla (nearest the armpit) to the sternum (breast bone). 99% of the tissue samples contained at least one paraben and 60% of the samples had five.

A number of studies since 1998 have raised concerns about the potential role of parabens in breast cancer as these chemicals possess oestrogenic properties and oestrogen is known to play a central role in the development, growth and progression of breast cancer. In particular, a link was proposed between the disproportionate incidence of breast cancer in the upper outer quadrant of the breast and oestrogenic chemicals in that region, maybe from local application of underarm cosmetic products.

“Our study appears to confirm the view that there is no simple cause and effect relationship between parabens in underarm products and breast cancer” said Mr Lester Barr, consultant surgeon at the University Hospital of South Manchester and Chairman of the Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention Appeal, which part sponsored the study.

“The intriguing discovery that parabens are present even in women who have never used underarm products raises the question: where have these chemicals come from?”

Key findings of the study included:

• One or more paraben esters were detected in 158 of the 160 samples studied (99%) and 96 of the samples (60%) contained all five of the most common paraben esters.

• The overall median value for total parabens in the breast tissue was 85.5 ng/g – one billionth of a gram of parabens per gram of breast tissue – ranging from 0 ng/g to 5134.5 ng/g. This level was four times higher than the 20.6 ng/g recorded by a smaller study in 2004.

• Overall median values for the individual parabens were highest for n- propylparaben (16.8 ng/g) and methylparaben (16.6 ng/g), with lower levels for n- butylparaben (5.8 ng/g), ethylparaben (3.4 ng/g) and isobutylparaben (2.1 ng/g).

• There was a disproportionate incidence of breast cancer in the upper outer quadrant nearest the armpit and significantly higher levels of n-propylparaben were detected in the axilla region, closest to the armpit, than in the mid or medial regions. The other four parabens were equally distributed across all parts of the breast.

“The fact that parabens were detected in the majority of the breast tissue samples cannot be taken to imply that they actually caused breast cancer in the 40 women studied,” said Dr Philippa Darbre, Reader in Oncology at the University of Reading, who also led the 2004 study. “However, the fact that parabens were present in so many of the breast tissue samples does justify further investigation.”

This paper is published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology. To request a media copy contact or +44 (0) 1243 770 375

Effectiveness of Massage Therapy

I don’t think anyone would question the benefits of massage, we all know what a good massage can do for us. Even though we know this for sure, it is still very gratifying to read studies that outline the benefits of massage. A joint team from RMIT University and The Australian Association of Massage Therapy (AAMT) has published a report; Effectiveness of Massage therapy, which states that massage can – and should- be used to treat a number of ailments. The report is a review of 740 Australian and international evidence-based academic research papers published over a 30 year period.

The report concludes that doctors and nurses should be more active in including massage as a part of treatment plans for illness ranging from back pains, anxiety to nausea and stress, as well as chronic disease management.

Tricia Huges, Chief executive of AAMT says; “Among the key findings of the report was that there is a growing body of research supporting massage therapy as being an evidence based therapeutic modality”

“This groundwork provides remedial massage therapists, complementary and alternative medicine practitioners and the broader allied health community with a basis to pursue evidence-based practice.”

The report also shows that massage can be used to delay the onset of muscle soreness (DOMS) and increasing pulmonary function. The research is systematically done with randomized controlled trials and comparative studies as well as case series/studies. All research covers a number of different massage techniques such as acupressure, lymphatic drainage reflexology, tuina, rolfing, shiatsu and Swedish massage among others.

So if you need more proof why you should treat yourself with massage this upcoming holiday season, get your hands on this study, or just book a massage right away…and ENJOY!


Books that can be life changing

As Christmas is coming up we thought it would be nice to share a list of our favorite books of the year. If you lack ideas for Christmas gifts, one of these books can be a really good choice for someone you care about, but be aware, they might have a life changing impact… 🙂

One of Raison d’Etre’s core values is to GROW PEOPLE, and we try hard to walk the way we talk. So every month we read a book on the theme; Personal growth and Personal development. During our monthly meetings we dedicate some time to discuss the book we have read, and talk about what we can learn from the book and how we can implement it to our lives.

Here is a selection of books that we have read during the year and that we highly recommend if you wish to improve the quality of your life:

Patrick’s favorite book:

Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson

I really like this book since Mark presents a straightforward and really basic system based on science and evolutionary/paleo principles in a very non-dogmatic way. If followed, the Primal Blueprint will increase a person’s health and fitness level more than any other system, philosophy or training schedule I have come across so far, and I have read it all ;-). The Primal Blueprint incorporates diet, exercise as well as lifestyle factors. Also it is really for everyone: the super athlete as well as the ordinary couch potato. Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint is a pragmatic and result oriented system than a person can follow for his/her entire life, not some crazy low calorie or low fat diet that will result in a crash and burn/adrenal fatigue after a couple of months. This book does not explore into depth the very complex biochemical pathways in the body nor does it go very deep into the nutritional science (even though it is science based). But let’s be frank, most people do not need that, understand that or even want that. Most people need and want an easy system or way to live a better, fitter, leaner and healthier life full of energy. This book is a must for anyone wanting to become exactly this, working with health or just wanting to have some basic knowledge about the major health contributing factors. Furthermore, Mark Sisson is someone really walking his talk! Good luck!” //Patrick Wahlberg

Anna’s and Michael’s favorite book:

168 hours -You have more time than you think by Laura Wanderkam

There are 168 hours in a week—this is a new approach to getting the most out of them It’s an unquestioned truth of modern life: we are all starved for time. With the rise of two-income families, extreme jobs, and the ability to log on to the world 24/7, life is so frenzied we can barely breathe. But what if we actually have plenty of time? What if we could sleep eight hours a night, exercise five days a week, and learn how to play the piano without sacrificing work, family time, or any other activity that is important to us? According to Laura Vanderkam, we can. If we re-examine our weekly allotment of 168 hours, we’ll find that, with a little reorganization and prioritizing, we can dedicate more time to the things we want to do without having to make sacrifices

“It is one of my favorite books, not because the writing style, but the message, it really made me re-evaluate how I look upon time and realize that I have massive of time. Almost life changing…” says Anna.

“For those with families this would be an INVALUABLE BOOK. For me it came down a lot to prioritising and focusing on what is important to me and MY LIFETIME GOAL – BALANCE!!  Working on that Work and Life balance” says Michael.

Anna and Maria also have another favourite, among the books we have read during the year:

Many life many masters by Brian L Weiss
“We really enjoyed reading this book because it is spiritual in a scientific way, it heightens that we are always supported and guided in life”.

The book is the true story of a prominent psychiatrist, his young patient, and the past-life therapy that changed both their lives. As a traditional psychotherapist, Dr. Brian Weiss was astonished and skeptical when one of his patients began recalling past-life traumas that seemed to hold the key to her recurring nightmares and anxiety attacks. His skepticism was eroded, however, when she began to channel messages from the “space between lives,” which contained remarkable revelations about Dr. Weiss’ family and his dead son. Using past-life therapy, he was able to cure the patient and embark on a new, more meaningful phase of his own career.

“Reading this beautiful book gave me lot’s of thoughts; There is always a reason why we act and react in the ways we do, but maybe the reason for this can’t always be found in this lifetime. I’m sure we carry on experiences from another life times, and challenges we have in life is to be seen as learning opportunities. This book is a beautiful story for those who wish to know more about things that are not always visible for the eye…” //Maria

SpaFinder’s annual forecast report: feet, ice and gaming among top trends for 2012

Healthy feet treatments, cold and ice therapies and online gaming are among the top spa themes for 2012, according to the ninth annual trends forecast by global spa and wellness resource SpaFinder.

Charting the year ahead, the report also predicts that health coaching at spas will become more popular while there will also be consolidation between hotels’ spa and gastronomic offerings and an increase in “spa, wine and dine” packages.

The full list of trends for 2012:
1. Healthy Feet Treatments
2. Cold and Ice Treatments
3. Wellness and Beauty Coaching
4. Online Wellness Gaming
5. Spa, Wine and Dine Packages
6. Vibration, Sound, Music, Light and Color Therapies
7. The Glam Factor
8. Spa Evidence
9. Spa Becomes a Family Affair
10. Spas Aim for the “Wow” Factor

The list is based on analyses from SpaFinder Research and its team of experts who visit hundreds of spa and wellness businesses around the world every year.

SpaFinder also conducts interviews with leading industry analysts and takes into account data and feedback collected from SpaFinder’s partnerships with more 15,000 spas, yoga, pilates and fitness studios, wellness practitioners and salons worldwide.

For a comprehensive outline – and examples – of each trend, please click here for the full press release.

Eco Glam for the skin

Gabriela Lexmyr Lindström, the distributor of Nvey Eco, organic makeup in Sweden, talks to us aboutwhy you should go all organic, even when it comes to makeup.

What are the main advantages of using natural and organic makeup?

G: First of all it makes your skin gorgeous, natural makeup will take care of the skin and is very gentle for the skin, and of course it is also good from an environmental perspective as well. You should choose organic makeup for the same reasons you go for organic food.

What does natural makeup contain compared to more “traditional makeup”?

Natural makeup contains of totally natural pigments from the earth, instead of synthetic pigments. The natural makeup is based on organic oils and natural vitamins which is there, not only for their skincare benefits, but also to act as preservatives. “Traditional makeup” is using more and more natural ingredients, but usually the products are still based on petroleum.

Would you say that natural makeup is as efficient, and gives the same result as ”traditional makeup”?

G: If I’m going to talk about natural makeup brands in general, I must say the quality varies between the brands just as much as between the more traditional brands, but it is important to know that organic makeup brands can reach up to the same results and performance as the more traditional brands. An excellent proof for this, is that Nvey Eco is used by many makeup professionals, among them makeup artists working at the Royal Dramatic theatre in Stockholm, as wells as makeup artists working for  national TV channels.

Is there something special you need to consider when working with natural / organic makeup, when it comes to technique?

G: No, not really. If you choose a range with good quality it is as easy to use as any makeup brand. Just play with the makeup and have fun! And when I say there is no special technique needed I talk about organic make up, not mineral makeup, which obviously needs a specific technique when applied. And many people mix natural and organic makeup with mineral makeup, which is something else, and not always as natural as you may think.

Can you find water resistant natural makeup?

G: Nvey Ecos creme de luxe foundation is water resistant and will stay on the skin no matter which snow storm will hit us this winter. Completely water resistant and natural mascara that can stand a swim in a pool does not exist. Natural mascaras do have a high quality, but to make them 100% water resistant you need to add ingredients that are not organic. So it is a choice you have to make. I also try to remind people that the eye is sensitive and can easily absorb what is applied nearby the eye, so you should be careful and avoid harsh ingredients especially around the eyes.

You have chosen to work with Nvey Eco and be the distributor for the makeup brand in Sweden, why did you go for Nvey? *)

G: I’m always looking for what is best. We call our concept exclusive organic skin care, which means that we wish to offer the best quality and the highest feeling of luxury. And it does not have to be expensive. Nvey Eco is a brand that is used by many makeup professionals which, for me is a guarantee that it is of good quality, and as a beauty therapist I’m also very concerned about what is applied on the skin; Ingredients that are not harmful for either the skin or the environment is an absolute must for me!

 *) Nvey Eco can be found worldwide, it is a natural and organic makeup brand (with eco certification) from Australia. For more information

**) Gabriela is a trained beauty therapist, she grew up in a family that worked with complementary medicine and her father taught her reflexology and massage, and when she was younger she used to go out in the forest to pick herbs with her grandfather. She works with her passion; organic skin care and makeup.




Anna Bjurstam on the latest trends in luxury spas and beauty products on CPP-Luxury

Anna Bjurstam is a co-founder of Raison D’Etre, Swedish based consultancy which createsand manages luxury spas around the world.


More luxury hotels are developing co-branded fitness centres with famous trainers or brands. Given your extensive experience, what do you think about this concept? And to what extent luxury fitness centres within hotels can become concepts beyond just mentioning the brand of the equipment. Fitness in hotels is extremely underdeveloped today. In most cases it ends with placing the equipment in the facilities and opening the doors. Many city hotels operates clubs, some do it well, but most attract their membership not because of the offering, but the hotel brand and location.The challenge for hotels is to invest in the right people, systems and education to develop their fitness offering, as it is costly and takes time. We have seen the challenge for hotels when it comes to spa, where it is about building a whole team and not a one-man-band, as it then becomes very subjective. Both the spa and fitness industries are very subjective industries, where, for example, one spa person in charge of a hotel chain spa loves natural products and the next one hired is an advocate for chemical products, and that completely changes the spa strategy. The same with fitness and it therefore makes sense to bring in outside help with a proven track record may it be a brand or a B2B consultant.

Which has been the most sophisticated organic product based treatment you created? Why? I think that we have given it all at our Grand Hôtel Nordic Spa, by Raison d’Etre in Stockholm, where we have a Nordic concept and we have developed our own product brand with hand picked organic ingredients from the Nordic countries, which means that we have to book the framers crops for next season and sometimes have to make adjustments to the product due to farmers availability of herbs and flowers. The products are so pure and potent, that they speak for themselves. We have then put them to use in three 2 hour treatments, for example Arctic Detox, which uses the above products to greatly heighten the result, with a variety of techniques using lymphatic, connective tissue, cupping, warm stone bead bags and various other techniques. Together with proper food and advice, the result has proven to be profound.

What do you think is, nowadays, the key competitive advantage for a successful SPA brand Authenticy and quality. The spa brands that are and do what they say they do, and do this at a very high quality, are the successful ones. Today, this is still not implemented to the degree we would have hoped for, for example massage – the number one treatment in any spa – is rarely quality controlled or even trained(!). Product companies do not train in massage, and it is normally the product companies that conduct all the treatment training there is.         

Luxury hotel chains have created their own SPA concepts and dedicated teams. Do you regard this as competition or a challenge for SPA operators? It depends on how you look at it. It is definitely a competitive advantage for the hotel chains, but the implementation is not always that successful, and it then instead becomes a disadvantage. We see that brands are introduced everywhere, but the authenticity and quality does not follow. This is not true for all, and those who do introduce an authentic spa brand, and delivers these with great quality are indeed successful. Hats off to for example Andrew Gibson and Mandarin Oriental, who has truly succeeded in all of the above.

How can consumers rate or evaluate the quality of SPA products, especially since nowadays there is a growing confusion between organic, bio, natural and cosmetic. What are the ingredients SPA product manufacturers should avoid placing in their products and why?It is indeed difficult, this is the case that “the more you know, the less you know you know”. Natural and organic is not the same, although a selected few are both natural and organic. Then there is the labeling where it is written “natural ingredients, natural, ecological” etc. where you are free to write that even if you only have 1% of natural ingredients.To have a list with you, for example on your phone, with ingredients to avoid, for example-parabens- mineral oil, paraffin, petrolatum- SLS or sodium laureth sulfate- Acrylamide- Propylene glycol- Phenol carbolic acid- Dioxane- TouleneThese are all ingredients that you find in many of the product brands today, for example SLS Found in over 90% of personal care products and they break down the skin’s moisture barrier, potentially leading to dry skin with premature aging. And because they easily penetrate your skin, they can allow other chemicals easy access. Others are cancerogenic, linked to organ problems etc.  More and more diseases are linked to the chemical cocktail we nowadays carry in our body, and there is no reason to increase that cocktail with so many great more natural, safe yet still very active product brands there are out there today.

What are the latest trends for SPAs at leisure luxury hotels? Maldives, Bali, Seychelles, CaribbeanLocal treatments, outdoor treatments, more wellness-oriented programs, natural products and more and more result oriented alternative therapy coupled with other offerings in the hotel such as food & beverage.When creating a SPA treatment or a SPA menu, for instance for a SPA in India versus a SPA in theMiddle East, which are the key elements you take into consideration? – skin type, weather conditions, pollution, genetics etcWhen choosing products, it is very much dependent on weather, humidity, skin type, and genetics, together with what the market research shows us. There is no one product that fits world wide, and this is why we have chosen to be independent of any product brand and choose freely among the many brands available.In India, for example, there is such a long tradition of sesame oil, which is used instead of more modern product brands (with great results!) and the new product brands therefore had a greater challenge then for example Middle East, which is very brand savvy.When it comes to developing treatments, that as well as depending on the culture, tradition, target market and each country’s healing history, in our spa at Grand Hôtel in Stockholm we have developed a authentic Nordic spa experience, whereas for Taj hotels when creating the Jiva brand, we worked with Ayurvedic doctors’s and chose to work with only Indian treatments. Then again, for Atlantis in Dubai it was more a world wide experiential aquatic theme. We work with a number of strategies, ranging from the more traditional market analysis, to brainstorming, meditating and thinking completely out of the box, creating the perfect fit and further something unique for that exact spa.

Thermal waters and muds are more and more used at SPAs worldwide. What are the main differences between treatments based on thermal waters and treatments based on muds?They have similar properties, their traits are derived from the earth. Whereas thermal water is identified as a hot water with composition rich in salts, iodine and gases, muds are product of natural decomposition of multitudes of plants under special conditions. They work in different ways and are often used in a combination, with great success. The water is good for the respiratory system, skin conditions and the muds strengthens the immune system, improves circulations, and relieves pain.

What projects are you currently working on? Which are their common features?We are working with a number of exciting projects, for example Baccarat Spa in Rabat, Morocco, Away spa for W in Verbier, 2 stand alone 3000sqm day spa and clubs in Riyadh, an Auriga spa in Singapore and another 10 something projects. They all have their different traits, ranging from crystals, moon phases, Nordic avant garde, seasonal to European concepts.The common features are the quality in which the staff is trained. We devote 4 weeks of pre opening training, while also having our Operations Manager on site to support and opening the spa. Thi si about double compared with our competitors, and of course train in massage with the aim of growing people. First we grow the actual staff delivering the experience, and these can then in turn enhance the lives of the guest.

Which is your number one every day motivation which drives your passion for wellness ?The ability that I have by doing my part to enhance peoples lives, simply to grow people. That gives me the absolute greatest fulfillment in life, when I see a person grow either physically, mentally, emotionally and/or spirituality. This is what spas can do, it enhances people’s lives, and there is no one right science, each person is treated differently depending on their needs and wants and the results are astounding.For me personally, to meditate every day is the basis of my wellness, and then try to eat healthy and work out at least 3-5 days a week and couple that with emotional wellness through children, spouse and friends. Spas has taught me to live a more balanced life.


The Season to Detox!

Autumn is an excellent time to detox. The body has been more active and outgoing during the light summer months and is now in need of some attention.

The seasons follow the same pattern as the moon’s phases. And as summer is like the full moon, autumn can be compared with the waning moon, when it turns away from the sun towards darkness. At this time it is natural to become more inward, retreating into a reflective mode.

As the energy of the season changes, the autumn offers us the chance to retreat and cleanse, allowing space for the body to renew and replenish. During this time tensions and toxins are more easily released making it the perfect time for weight loss and fasting.

It is especially important to focus on the following during this period to help cleanse your body and mind:

  • Fasting
  • Dry body brushing
  • Lymph massages / Cupping
  • Reflexology
  • Cleansing and restorative wraps
  • Resting
  • Reflecting
  • Diet – soups, herbal teas, smoothies, nutrients that cleanse and restores, green leafs and veggies, support the kidneys and live
  • r
  • Relaxing and restorative treatments
  • Yoga, stretch and meditation


To welcome autumn at the Grand Hôtel Nordic Spa, by Raison d’Etre we are introducing  2 new treatments

  1. Cupping (60/90min) – This is an ancient therapy which is wonderful for the lymph system as well as detoxing and great for combating soreness and water retention. Definitely a seasonal treat!
  2. Artic Detox Massage (2hours) – cleansing, toning, fights cellulites and water retention, using connective tissue, cupping, heated mung seed pillows and Swedish classical massage

What is happening on the Beauty market this year? Part 1…

The beauty market is continuing to push boundaries and developing new and exciting technologies, products and treatments. So what are the beauty trends this fall, what is the market bubbling about right now?

The hot mix of ingredients in your beauty cream this year                                                       

Cosmetic brands promoting stem cells has dramatically increased this year, even though there is a debate if stem cells in skin care actually has the biological effect on the skin that the industry claims. Stem cells in skin care are supposed to stimulate cell growth which would lead to skin rejuvenation. It is said that skin care with stem cells can convert resting adult stem cells to newly-minted skin cells and to “reset” the skin’s ageing clock. However the form of stem cells that is currently used in beauty products (plant stem cells) is mainly protecting the human skin stem cells from damage and deterioration. We can say that stem cells in skin care do provide an optimal environment for your own stem cells, so they can function as good as possible. And who knows, what is just around the corner? Stem cells are big in the medical world and as we all know, a major part of advanced cosmetic ingredients used today, came initially from the medical industry… 

Another “it-ingredient” is peptide. Peptides help the skin to produce collagen and elastin, fibers in the skin that creates the mesh that keeps the skin tight and firm. Peptides (both synthetic and natural) are mainly used to reverse aging and sun damaged skin. Interesting is that some peptides inhibit neuromuscular transmissions and thereby reduce mimic movement that cause wrinkles and lines. A while ago I had the opportunity to listen to Dr Diana Howard from the Dermal Institute and according to her peptides together with antioxidants such as vitamin A, C are ingredients that we can trust when it comes to delivering results in the skin. However one has to always pay attention to the formula, the concentration, the packaging and the mix of ingredients to be sure. (For example vitamin A is very sensitive to oxygen and light, hence it should never be stored in a jar, only in packaging with pumps or tubes, and preferably used at night time).

Advanced Beauty

Maybe it is due to the recession, the fact that people are more hesitant to spend their money, but there is a decrease in the use of cosmetic surgery, and an increase in non-invasive (less expensive?) treatments. Injections (Botox, hyaluronic acids) are still on the rise. People tend to act more preventive, starting to see dermatologists and beauticians regularly and before the actual problems occur. Beauticians and spas are going towards more high tech treatments, using advanced therapy equipment. The well known spa brand Kerstin Florian has recently launched K-lift, a device to treat mature skin and prevent the skin from sagging. K lift is marketed as a facelift without surgery. It uses a combination of kinetic energy, LED light and pulsifying micro current.

Eyes, eyes baby

There is boom in chic eyelashes and eye brows! Eyebrow bars, dedicated only to treatments on the eye zone, can be found in almost all department stores in London, Paris, New York…Treatments like threading (sculpting eyebrows with cotton thread), tinting, waxing, lash extensions and special massages for the eyes area are offered. Blink – eye brow store has just opened at Henri Bendel in New York, and in the menu they even offer a separate section for male grooming; Eye brow Tidy & Trim! Movie star eyes are no longer an unachievable dream. To get those long and intense lashes, Revita lash has launched a high tech product that stimulate lash growth, a nourishing balm that works as a conditioner for the lashes and is said to make a change in 3 – 10 weeks time. In our own Raison d ‘Etre spa we have followed this trend by launching Lash extensions – An effective and yet simple way to have magic eyes for up to 6 weeks. The eyelash extensions are applied one by one for a natural, but amazing look! (Saves us 5 minutes every morning, as hardly no eye makeup is needed anymore!)

At our spa at NK Rosenrummet  our fantastic Agge makes all the diference and are soon to launch eye brow design, threading and style with Nina Asgar, celebrity eyebrow designer  – more info to come! But rest assure, we can make all the difference to your eyes!

Stay tuned for Part 2…!


Chemical vs Natural – Can Plants Stop Wrinkles?

‘Green’ chemistry is progressing at breakneck speed. We are living in an exciting time for skin care formulation, with numerous developments in areas such as natural sugars and synthetic proteins.

 Yet the common perception still remains that chemical products work better than natural ones: if you are environmentally conscious and want to know what you’re putting on your skin, you choose natural skincare products, but if you want a real result you need to use chemical based products.

It seems as consumers we have been pre-programmed to favour chemical products. In the results of an efficiency test I read a couple of years ago, natural and chemical clothing detergents were scored as equally efficient. When provided
with this information, however, the consumers interviewed admitted they did not believe the results, suggesting that mistakes must have been made in the study.

If we are convinced our clothes are whiter when we use a chemical detergent, there is an explanation. Most laundry detergents
contain optical brighteners, chemicals which trick your sensory perception. Optical brighteners work by leaving a molecular residue on your clothes which reflects ultraviolet light. Rather than providing a deeper clean to brighten the fabric, these detergents leave behind a layer of chemicals which merely give the appearance of vivid colour.

This in turn creates a health risk. The ultraviolet-reactive molecules can cause your skin to become photosensitive and more susceptible to burn in sunlight. Increased exposure to ultraviolet rays can also increase the risk of skin cancer; one very good reason to avoid detergents containing optical brighteners. 

Similarly, in years gone by we used skincare products containing mineral oils, paraffin and other petrochemicals which gave
the skin a lovely soft feeling by clogging the pores. We know now that these chemicals actually break down skin particles and speed up the ageing process. Quite the opposite effect of what we were hoping for.

I urge everyone to read and learn about natural products so that you can make an informed choice about what products are best for you. Having used both natural and chemical products extensively, I regard The Organic Pharmacy’s certified natural and organic product range the best in the world. Not only do they please my environmentally conscious side, they are also the most efficient products I have ever used. That’s two very good reasons why we have chosen them for our spa.


PRESS RELEASE: Raison d’Etre Launches Unique SOS Spa Solution Service

6 September, 2011: Spas looking to improve performance in specific areas will now be able to beneift from Spa Operational Support (SOS), a unique support service launched by leading spa consulatancy Raison d’Etre.

The service provides spas with support on specific opperational areas including recruitment, audits, trouble shooting, revenue & profit maximisation, product consultation and training. This means clients can benefit from Raison d’Etre’s wealth of knowledge and target specific areas for improvement rather than buying into a whole package.

SOS expands on some of the successful services that Raison d’Etre has conducted for their clients previously, such as recruitment. “We have successfully recruited spa directors and spa managers for many spas around the world, tailoring each placement to reflect different spas, markets and cultures. We will now broaden the scope of our recruitment services to include any hotel, resort or day spa that is looking for senior level staff to take their business to the next level,” explains Anna Bjurstam, Managing Director for Raison d’Etre.

Over the years, Raison d’Etre has built a strong database of spa management professionals and developed a solid spa specific interview process. They will offer permanent spa management placements as well as short term solutions. This will benefit spas in need of a replacement for a shorter period of time, such as maternity leave, and will ensure the continuous smooth operation of the spa.

“We often find we are more suited as owners, operators and consultants to evaluate and chose the right spa manager, as a result Raison d’Etre has not used a recruitment agency for any of our spas in the past ten years. We are confident we can find the right spa manager for any spa, which is why we decided to offer this service to the market,“ says Michael Clarke, Operations Director for Raison d’Etre.

Another area where Raison d’Etre has excelled is turning around underperforming spas. Through their trouble shooting package, which includes an in depth audit, action plan and execution, spas have increased profits between 30%-200% during the first year following the programme.

Raison d’Etre has developed one of the most comprehensive spa audit systems in the world, which includes a 3-4 day on site assessment. “This proven system allows us to assess every aspect of the spas operation from which we compile a detailed audit report, complete with an action plan for improvements,” says Bjurstam.

SOS is part of Raison d’Etre’s strategic growth plan to deliver ongoing support an opportunities for clients. To find out more about SOS contact

Raison d’Etre’s Spa Management course provides the opportunity for talented professionals to grow in this industry

Our medical systems are failing to keep people healthy by focusing solely on those already sick and as a result the spa and wellness industry have the exciting opportunity to bridge this gap by offering enhanced health in a preventative and sustainable framework.

In the aftermath of the recent financial crisis we have seen the spa business evolve from championing pampering and luxury to focusing on wellness and results. In addition, the spa consumer has become more demanding as value for money is crucial now more than ever.

2 happy graduates, Camilla and Sara

2 happy graduates, Camilla and Sara

The people ready to step up to the plate and lead this change are the new generation of Spa Managers and Directors and Raison d’Etre’s Spa Management course together with Yrkeshögskolan för Spa & Skönhet in Stockholm, provides the opportunity for talented professionals striving for more knowledge and tools to grow in this industry. A common weakness in the spa industry is that often gifted therapists are placed to manage a spa without any education or experience in managing staff, finance or increasing value for their owners.

“The leaders in a spa must be equipped with the right tools. Every spa should have a Business plan, Human Capital Management Plan and Marketing Plan and understand how to use these proactively and efficiently. I believe that maybe 1% of the spas actually have these tools”.

In addition to a Business Plan, spas – where consumers chose from word of mouth – also need a Human Capital Management Plan (HCM). We already know why good human resource management matters but until Spa managers know how to manage talent, knowing why does not help. HCM is a strategic approach to people management that focuses on the issues that are critical to the organization’s success. It treats people management as a high-level strategic issue and seeks systematically to analyze, measure and evaluate how people policies and practices create value.

Raison d’Etre has developed a HCM plan especially for spas, with the five corner stones
1. Business Objectives and Organizational design (mainly from the business plan)
2. Leadership
3. Talent
4. Culture
5. Market

The key to the HCM plan is that every initiative must be measurable. If a spa invests in training, there must be a strategy to see how successful this training was through staff questionnaires and shop percentage (goal and actual) or average sales.

“The HCM plan may be one the most important tools that a spa can have, where growing people is the key to grow business. It requires an initial investment in time, to set up all measurements, but once done, the spa has a very proactive approach to keep down staff retention and develop their staff.”

Over the past five years, Raison d’Etre has conducted 1-2 spa manger’s courses per year and sees the need for more targeted education, courses and networks for spa managers and will the coming year be launching several new initiatives to meet these needs. Soon, a new spa management course including a base module and then add on modules with for example Finance, Sales & Marketing etc. can be chosen, will be launched. Stay tuned for more news the next couple of weeks!