Category Archives: Leading Lights



New European Economy: How is’s more collaborative, empowering and feminine approach to business best evidenced, and to what extent has it been key to the company’s success to date?

Abi Wright: I think the important thing to remember is that is an equal opportunities employer where we work hard to accentuate the unique skills of the individual.  We all work to support one another, and everyone mucks in.  That said, because we try hard to accommodate the individual, a number of women have flourished within the company, and as such, the majority of our senior management team is female.  Over 90% of those women have been with the company for five or more years, since’s infancy, and all have progressed in their roles to become invaluable members of the team.  They haven’t achieved their positions because they are women, but whether they are single mums or are caring for elderly parents, a more flexible, individual approach to the way they work, wherever possible, has meant that they have the opportunity to really show what they can do without being hindered by anything that may be associated with their being women, and the result is amazing!

It’s a luxury industry but it has a huge number of facets that mean there’s the option for accessible pricing.


NEE: As with other disruptive innovations, have you encountered any resistance to the “ way” from an industry that had become complacent and inflexible?

AB:  Overall, we have been extremely lucky and have always had the support of wonderful venues and respected names in the industry since we started in 2008.  We have never really found that there is resistance in the industry, but sometimes we have found that we need to be very clear about our motivation and what we are trying to do.  Whether that’s from an initiative perspective, like Recovery Retreats (spa breaks for people with cancer) and Accessible Spas for anyone with a disability, or whether that’s simply understanding the importance of a proactive relationship between our product managers and the venues in order to maximise their marketing potential, it has sometimes taken a little time for that process to really bed in.  The wonderful thing is that because we have an excellent team who now have a proven track record for brilliant results when venues follow our advice, it takes less convincing than it might have done before!

NEE:To what extent do you see yourself as an ambassador for developing women in leadership and helping to realise truly inclusive organisations? Are you confident for the future when it comes to equality and inclusion in the workplace?

AB:  I think we live in a really exciting time for women. Technology is making more flexible working possible, and I try really hard to embrace that wherever possible, not just for women, but for men, parents, anyone with a disability, or anyone at all.  We live in a world of 24-hour communication and services, so within that there are wonderful opportunities to change the status quo.  I am not sure if I see myself as an ambassador, but I do see myself as being in a very privileged situation, and knowing how important the women in my life and office are to my personal and professional success, I want to be able to pass that on to other women.  It’s a fantastic feeling to be able to help people realise their dreams, and as a mum with a young daughter I want her to grow up in a world where she knows she can achieve anything.  So yes, I am indeed confident that we can and are achieving that.


NEE: Can you tell us about growth plans for the company, such as further expansion into Europe and the launch of a luxury brand? How do you plan to ensure that growth does not result in the loss of core values, such as placing the marginalised centre stage?

AB: incorporates an extremely wide variety of products.  It’s a luxury industry but it has a huge number of facets that mean there’s the option for accessible pricing.  In 2017 we are working on a new luxury site, because there are a number of venues that need a different nuance to their marketing and sales, as they take the spa experience to another level.  It is designed to make the search process easier for customers visiting, refining their ability to find the right type of break for them.  Booking a spa day is very different to booking a week at an all-singing, all-dancing health resort, and given the breadth of opportunity in the spa world, it is important to us to make that search process as easy as possible, and to market the venues as accurately as possible.  Our ethos is entirely about accessibility, and I think making sure our websites have clear direction enhances that.


NEE: What would you describe as’s single biggest pioneering achievement to date?

AB: I am extremely proud of our work in making the spa industry more accessible for cancer patients, and of course that is ongoing.  I think, however, what I am especially proud of is more general than that.  It is hard for a lot of people to remember, but when we started eight years ago, the spa industry was very limited in what it offered, and was often seen as a bit inaccessible.  It was the domain of middle class women with too much time and too much money.  What we have aimed to do is open the industry up and show what it can really do – it is about spa days, spa breaks, afternoon tea, health, wellbeing, group getaways, romantic mini breaks, babymoons, spa days for men… we have even had a spa stag do booked through us! You can have a spa day for £20 or £2,000, and we have more than 850 venues and counting that are testament to that, not to mention  861,346 spa travellers booked to date (more by the time you read this).  So, I think that’s our biggest achievement.


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) The SSE Hydro – Scotland’s premier events venue situated in the Scottish Exhibition + Conference Centre on the banks of the River Clyde

The SSE Hydro – Scotland’s premier events venue situated in the Scottish Exhibition + Conference Centre on the banks of the River Clyde

Glasgow is enjoying an unprecedented period of growth and development. Having completed the major regeneration programmes that dominated the 1990s and early 2000s, the city is now fully engaged in a further phase of transformation that will ensure Glasgow maintains its status as a leading UK city and economic powerhouse.

Scotland’s largest city generated a very healthy £19.3 billion GVA in 2014, the largest of any Scottish city. Impressively, Glasgow had the fastest growing city economy in the UK in 2013-14 and is third for UK regional commercial property investment outside London (CBRE, Core Cities, Core Strengths). Figures from Quarter 2 2016 indicate that the Glasgow office market has recorded one of its best quarterly take-ups since 2008.

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Kingdom of Excellence

According to research from the Tourism Competitive Intelligence, 45 million global travellers choose a location solely because they have seen a movie or a TV show recorded in that country. However, there is a lot more than just the ‘Game of Thrones’ film set to offer those landing in Croatia – the exquisite and unique ‘national park of Europe’.

Just a few hours from London, Paris or Frankfurt, Croatia is quickly becoming a business travel hotspot. The crystal clear Adriatic Sea, stunning islands, mountainous coastline and the huge variety of incentive tours available are prompting this huge boom in business tourism.

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A Good Reputation – Ernst-Abbe-Hochschule, Jena


The range and exceptional quality of higher education establishments in Germany means that those looking to study there are often spoilt for choice.

Germany has private as well as state-run universities, and this is also the case with the universities of applied sciences as well as the specialist art and music schools. Some 95 per cent of the country’s higher education institutions are government funded and owned, while just five per cent are in the private sector. Most students opt for state universities as these charge low or no tuition fees (source: DAAD).

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Green is Go in Gozo


The island of Gozo, part of the Maltese archipelago, stands for culture, history, identity, tranquility and beauty. This is a 67-square kilometre island in the Mediterranean with 7000 years of history, boasting the oldest free-standing megalithic temples, that are a UNESCO World Heritage site – the Ggantija Temples in Xaghra. Anyone who sets foot here, is captured by the raw beauty and the authenticity that places elsewhere have lost. The island is connected to mainland Malta by a scenic 25-minute ferry ride that runs every hour. The Malta International Airport is itself connected to 96 European ariports.

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Winter 2017 Issue

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