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The Washington National Spa Alliance; co-chairs, Mary-Elizabeth Gifford, Bernard Burt, and Ada Polla (photographed by Tony Powell at the Four Seasons)

“Fodor’s Health & Fitness Vacations” (1987, Random House), updated as “Fodor’s Healthy Escapes,” became a best seller in the ‘90s. The Millennium marked his third book, “100 Best Spas of the World.” For the new decade, Burt’s trilogy “Spectacular Spas” will feature destinations in Asia, Europe, and the Americas (2009/2010). The synergy between spas, tourism, and luxury lifestyle products motivates Burt’s landmark books. Described as the ideal author by T George Harris, Editor in Chief of American Health magazine, “Burt had quite a few naïve ideas about health behaviors and healthy food – and found himself totally unprepared, as most executives do, when his doctor told him his life would be shorter than normal if he did not get his weight down.” Burt had taken the waters in Baden-Baden, Budapest, Bath, and Two Bunch Palms, but had to learn about holistic health and the new concepts of mind-body wellness being introduced at American spas. As founding director of the International Spa Association, he created a voice for the spa industry, changing the image of elite, expensive fat farms with a new approach to healthy lifestyles. His lectures on spa management at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, The Asia Spa Institute, and trade shows in London and Germany, focus on the need to educate a new generation of spa managers. Burt’s byline appears regularly online for Healing Lifestyles & Spas ( magazine. Featured columnist for Spa Management Journal, he tracks trends worldwide. On the Web, Burt reports for and From his personal lifestyle turnaround to documenting today’s top trends, Bernard Burt defines spa experiences for new generations of SpaGoers.

Tel +1.202.331.0228

Taking the waters has been a Washington tradition ever since President George and Martha Washington escaped to a town called Bath in West Virginia, 90-minutes from the Beltway. Now known as Berkeley Springs State Park, the mineral water baths, bodywork, and winter waters festival redefine cheap chic. New trends are shaping the way we spa. Holistic health led to a revival of interest in all things natural as well as wellness programs. Corporate America discovered spa retreats are cost-effective stress management. The National Institutes of Health in Bethesda established a center to research and define complementary medicine for today’s standards of health. Creating a forum for spa industry newsmakers, the Washington National Spa Alliance will launch in 2009. The ‘defining choices’ of D.C. spa goers range from day spas to luxury hotels, resort in the mountains and on Chesapeake Bay. My first experiences were at The Homestead in southern Virginia, a favored retreat of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, and The Greenbrier in West Virginia, where members of Congress still meet and golf. Recent openings included Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia, and the Inn at Perry Cabin, St. Michaels, Md. Arriving soon in Middleburg, Virginia, Salamander Resort & Spa will sport an equestrian center. New hotel spas in Washington include Bliss at the The W, Red Door at The Willard Intercontinental, and The Jefferson. The worldwide movement to integrate wellness and preventive medicine redefines the spa as integral to maintaining your quality of life. According to the International Spa Association (ISPA), there are seven types of spas devoted to enhancing overall well-being through a variety of professional services that encourage the renewal of mind, body, and spirit ( As a founding member of ISPA, I gained valuable insights about holistic health from providers of products and services who support the industry’s educational programs. Among them is Alchimie Forever, headquartered in Washington and headed by an international team of skincare specialists leading development of the trend to combine medical treatment with spa services. They are setting standards for the future.

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