Spa Business issue 2 2021

Page 58

INTERVIEW

PHOTO: THERME GROUP

Stelian Iacob A pioneer in contemporary thermal wellbeing resorts, Therme Group already attracts 3.4 million visitors a year to its sites in Germany and Romania. And now the COO reveals exciting global expansion plans to Spa Business

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e redefine the concept of wellbeing with activities for children, adults and seniors – offering them both fun leisure time and relaxation,” says Stelian Iacob, COO and senior vice-president of the Therme Group, adding that the company is leading the charge in making the traditional thermal facility model more relevant to today’s consumers. “Wellbeing has become a luxury for the privileged few,” he says. “But looking back to Roman and Elizabethan times, thermal spas weren’t just about relaxing and unwinding. They were for people of all backgrounds to meet, socialise and immerse themselves in culture in a way that benefitted all the dimensions of wellbeing: mental, physical, social and spiritual. And this is our goal.” There are four operations for day guests run by Therme Group and Thermengruppe Josef Wund (see p59), three in Germany and one in Romania, which welcome 3.4 million visitors a year. Most recently, Therme Group secured planning permission for its biggest venue to date – a £250m (US$353.3m, €290.4m) development in Manchester, UK. But

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plans don’t stop there. The group is also looking at three other sites in the UK, one in Scotland, Wales and another in England, near London. On a world-scale it’s working on further projects in mainland Europe – one has just been confirmed in Frankfurt – Asia Pacific and North America. Iacob insists none of these have been affected by COVID-19. If anything, they’ve been bolstered by it. “The pandemic has shone a light on the global wellbeing crisis,” he says. “We’re seeing a much greater focus, by countries, organisations and the population at large, on the need to integrate healthy living into daily life and reconnect with nature and each other.” So just what is the Therme Group concept, how was it created and what else can Iacob reveal about the rollout?

Technically speaking Therme Group is headquartered in Vienna, Austria, but also has offices in North America, Europe and Asia. It’s a part of A-Heat, a global firm specialising in heat exchange engineering. It’s this background that led it to plan and develop large-scale thermal resorts. To give you an idea of size,