Welcome to Raison d’Etre! Annika, our new MD
Annika, Welcome to the Raison d’Etre team, tell us a little about your background.
Thank you! I am so pleased to be here. I started working in hotels in 1987 right before leaving Sweden for the US so my experience have been all around hospitality and travel related services. I became seriously involved with spa development in 2000 when I joined the Enchantment Group in Arizona to develop the Mii amo, a destination spa at Enchantment in Sedona Arizona. Mii amo went on to becoming a highly praised world renowned spa. Having always been personally interested in health and wellbeing this is the perfect fit.
What did you know about Raison d’Etre before you started to work for us?
Actually quite a bit since I first met Anna Bjurstam, our owner at the first annual Global Spa and Wellness Summit in NYC in 2007. I had noticed in the summit information that she was from Sweden and when I saw her list of accomplishments I knew I wanted to meet her. It also so happens that she lived and had the office then in the same town I was raised in right outside Stockholm and her husband went to the same schools I did growing up. We also now have children in the same ages and have kept in touch over the years. Then 2 years ago when I got to experience the spa at Grand Hotel in Stockholm I was even more impressed with the company.
After spending so many years in the US, can you see if there is a great difference between the spa culture in the US and in Europe?
Yes, most definitely. From a guest standpoint I see a difference in how people use spas. In Europe I think there is a mix between people who spa regularly as part of a healthy and preventative lifestyle, maybe more often than at fairly budget spas as well as the higher end user that may spa more when travelling or at special occasions, i.e. the price point for spa treatments I see as something that could be developed a little by educating the general public of benefits of highly effective and skilled services. In the US I think that spa is often associated with luxury and while massage chains such as Massage Envy have become extremely successful it is still a challenge at times to get the general American population to realize that spa and wellness goes hand in hand. Americans are also a little less comfortable than the Europeans to appear without clothing in groups such as bathing facilities and changing rooms. Coming from a Sauna culture growing up this was a funny observation for me for many years. Now after 25 years in the US I too feel more comfortable changing and bathing in private or clothed 🙂
What are your plans for Raison d’Etre for the coming years?
Well, the first quarter of 2013 have proved to be very exciting and we are in high demand which is fantastic! We have many new projects in different stages of development. We are making continuous updates and enhancements to our Spa Manager on line course which we only see an increasing demand for and that is exciting not only because we get to share our knowledge and experience to spa colleagues but also because our team gets to showcase all that they know – which is a lot! I am so honored to be working with such talented and caring individuals! One of the things that I first said to Anna after joining the company last fall was that every member of the team acts and cares as if it was their own company and that is very special. We will be drawing on that talent as we continue to develop tailor made spa brands and experiences for our clients as well as our own LivNordic Brand now available to select locations around the world. It’s a very exciting time in the spa industry and Raison d’Etre is perfectly positioned to be the best of the best.