Happy New Year

I wish to thank these special people for bringing inspiration and wisdom to each and all of us. I understand by heart that good can only be good. Good is pure and never can be evil. Good always was there, survives, and driven by love. Those who feel good know that love keeps all things right on track; the path of peace, fulfillment and happiness…year after year. I wish you all good.


Dr. Bodeker, Part 2 – The Spas Of The Future

This is the second in a series of blogs based on conversations between Dr. Gerry Bodeker and Paul Penders

    Part 1 – People We Admire…Dr Gerry Bodeker
    Part 2 – The Spas of the Future
    Part 3 – “Ramuan” — Malay Traditions for Health and Beauty

When you go on a holiday, what kind of experience do you want? It used to be a choice between the mountains and the beach but nowadays you can choose to luxuriate at a spa. You can be primped and pampered and return to your daily life refreshed.

For young (and older) people searching for a job, new opportunities are opening up in the spa industry and helping others feel great can be a rewarding career choice.

    “The spa industry is currently the fastest growing segment of the hospitality and leisure industry with revenues exceeding those from amusement parks, box office receipts, vacation ownership gross sales and ski resort ticket sales.”

Dr. Gerard Bodeker of Oxford University and Columbia University, scholar and expert on the global spa industry, recently visited Langkawi. Paul Penders arranged a rare opportunity for me to listen in on their conversation.

    “The Spa world is about encompassing lifestyle approaches and personal journeys. The communes of the 60’s are being repositioned as retreats and intensives,” Dr. Bodeker says.

Seated outdoors in Dr Ghani’s lovely home over afternoon tea, Dr. Gerry Bodeker and Paul Penders discussed the global spa industry – and how Paul Penders products are now being used by spas throughout the world.

Understanding the Global Spa Industry by Dr. Bodeker has become the textbook for study of the business dimensions of the spa industry. Spas are now “the institutional face of the Wellness industry,” he says. He lists herbal approaches, touch, aroma, nutritional offerings, integrated exercise. “Only spas offer all of those – yoga, nutrition, massage…”

Leaders from this trillion dollar industry are focused on imagining the “spa of the future.” Healthy lifestyle experiences are now a major trend in international travel and tourism. Luxury resorts have realized that travelers, especially the wealthy elite, want more than just a massage and a comfortable bed. A holiday should be restorative. Vacationers want to return to their daily lives feeling both healthy and fit. The younger, high end customer also demands something new that benefits their health and lifestyle.

Many spas now offer retreats with courses in diet, exercise, massage, meditation, etc. Dr. Bodeker explains, “If I can learn and take something home; if I can change direction to something more life-supporting, that’s the kind of place I want to go.” It is a new movement in the hospitality and tourism industry that looks to be the wave of the future.

Dr. Bodeker was enroute to the Mandarin Oriental in Chiang Mai, Thailand, which he describes as “a very beautiful resort, very renowned.” The website for their “Dheva Spa” calls it “Thailand’s first world-class destination spa is unique in both concept and design; created under the auspices of health specialists and inspired by an ancient Mandalay Palace.” It is one of the few spas that also offers a spa training academy. His stay coincides with a one–week silent meditation program, ayurvedic programs, and a visit by a yoga master.

In earlier days, communes and utopian groups fulfilled the needs for political, social, cultural, and educational lifestyles and exploratory journeys. Now, wellness retreats and resorts, says Dr. Bodeker, are fulfilling that need and finding a surprising number of customers.

Sociologists talk about how small groups start and reset everything. Dr. Bodeker mentions the “Cultural Creatives” defined as the strange outsiders — the fringe — who come up with exciting new ideas which gain acceptance over time, like the hippies in the 60’s and 70’s whose ideas are now mainstream. Doctors and scientists now support such “Aquarian Age” ideas as meditation, aromatherapy, and holistic healing.

What is “elitist” now is creating models for the future. Dr. Bodeker predicts the “wellness” approach will become part of mainstream healthcare by the next generation. A variety of cutting edge modalities are being pioneered now at spas and retreats all over the world. He believes that recognition of the importance of wellness will come.

When people start to realize that a truly healthy lifestyle is possible – with a little help from professional spa therapists — it will be thanks to the handful of real, credible authorities like Dr. Bodeker. What is now marginal is on its way to becoming mainstream.

Recommended Reading:

Understanding the Global Spa Industry: Spa Management edited by Dr. Bodeker with Marc Cohen, “is the first book to examine management practices in this industry and offers a groundbreaking and comprehensive approach to global spa management, covering everything from the beginnings of the industry through to contemporary management and social and ethical issues.”

Understanding the Global Spa Industry: Spa Management, Gerry Bodeker (Editor), Marc Cohen MBBS PhD (TCM) (Editor), Butterworth-Heinemann (paperback – Taylor & Francis, July 28, 2008), UK, pp. 496. ISBN-10: 075068464X ISBN-13: 978-0750684644

Available as a downloadable (hardcover) e-book from Tower Books at: http://www.tower.com/understanding-global-spa-industry-management-gerard-bodeker-hardcover/wapi/111877612#product_details
Number of Pages: 480
ISBN: 075068464X
WAPI (Tower ID): 111877612

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The Essence

By Kamila Delart.
When I walk through the tropical garden towards the Sun Spa, following a path framed with oblong ponds mirroring the tropical palms and the frangipani trees growing above, I’m really excited! Three hours of indulgence! What a treat Especially as the package includes a professional cosmetology treatment my face seems to be in dear need of.

While I enjoy the refreshing chilled lime juice, and soak my feet in a rustic wooden barrel with orchids and frangipani flowers floating on the water surface, Jason, the Spa Receptionist, presents me with a lovely tray containing samples of body scrubs and massage oil blends to select from.
With a small amount applied on the back of my hand, I feel the texture and smell the fragrance, very much inclined to choose the Sea Salt Body Scrub infused with the delicious essence of Lemon Grass. But noticing my slightly sunburned skin, Jason thoughtfully advises that I opt for the coconut-rice exfoliant instead as it will be much gentler to my delicate skin.
As for the massage oil, my immediate winner is the Tamarind blend. Anti-inflammatory, and an excellent source of anti-oxidants and vitamins, it promises to sooth my irritated skin, while the divine aroma is hard to resist.

Escorted by my therapist, Minah, to the ‘treatment room’, my initial enthusiasm temporarily wavers. Usually frequenting five star resort spas, finding myself in a small cabin shielded from the next treatment bed only by a curtain drape, and realizing that I will have to move to another room dedicated to wet-therapies to enjoy my body treatment, does not necessarily match my expectations. But I reckon it’s too late to change my mind, so I dutifully fold my clothes into a small basket, and lay down on the massage bed. Looking back – a brilliant decision!
It’s hard to comment on my massage as Minah’s gentle caring touch managed to lull me to sleep after only a few minutes. The ‘feared’ transition to another room is surprisingly smooth. Located just opposite my current room, I pretty much sleepwalk the few steps, and before I know it, Minah begins to apply a smooth and luscious coconut-rice body polish, repeatedly reassuring herself, that the pressure is light enough on my slightly sunburned skin.
A cooling body wrap with banana leaves completes the body treatment experience. Letting a stream of warm water reveal the silky skin of a newborn, I spontaneously decide to wash my hair. Although a multipurpose body & hair product is available, Minah rushes out to bring me a cherry shampoo, insisting that it is much more suitable for my fine European hair.
And then comes the highlight!

The eagerly anticipated facial.
While I do like the natural facial pampering with cucumber and yogurt, the daily sun exposure and high moisture climate left their marks over the last few months. So I really need a professional cosmetology care, helping me with congested pores and slight pigmentation resulting from being careless when it comes to diligent sun screen application.
Although my skin tends to be rather oily, my cheeks are for some reason very sensitive, reacting to most of the product I ever tried. So as usual, I advise my therapist to leave this area out. (A recommendation, most of the aestheticians in the past followed).
But Minah is determined to provide me with a complete experience, insisting that she will personalize my treatment, applying on my cheeks a product specially developed for sensitive skin, a whitening serum on my forehead to alleviate any discoloration, and deeply purifying products on the rest of my face, while employing the vacuum machine to thoroughly cleanse my pores. And it works!

Resting upon the mask application, I close my eyes, just to be surprised by an unexpected sound. Although my hair is meanwhile half dry, Minah made the effort to organize a blow-dryer, and is now gently caressing my scalp, and running her fingers through my hair to smooth it out.
Half an hour later, as I wait in a neighbouring restaurant for my dinner to arrive, James Kok, the owner of Sun Spa, approaches me, asking about my experience, and handing me a little bag, mentioning that I seem to have forgotten my jewellery. Too relaxed to remember, I look inside to find my nose ring, artfully draped on a tiny cardboard with the Sun Spa’s Logo. Too overwhelmed to speak

Able to collect my thoughts only once I am in my car on the way home, I am reflecting upon this unusual Spa visit that forces me as a Spa Professional to question the general concept of an outstanding Spa experience which is increasingly associated with the provision of extensive wellness facilities and breath-taking interior design.
Don’t get me wrong. I do love to indulge in exclusive treatments provided in a lavish five star environment. But although thrilled by sensory ambiance, and impressed by extensive treatment offerings provided by internationally trained therapists, everything really comes down to the essence, doesn’t it?
We may be too self-conscious to articulate our deepest desires. But if we did not censor ourselves, would we not book a spa appointment saying: ‘Please, make me feel special! Let the world revolve around me and my needs. Just for these few hours
As published in Langkawi-gazette


I Have Been Lied to. I Feel Betrayed. Part – 1

Obviously I feel extremely upset. More and more I see the lies and cover up stuff of EWG. Paul Penders Co always promoted The Safe Cosmetics Org. We proudly displayed their logo on our website. But no longer! We do no longer wish to be a part of this organization. Please do not take it from me alone. Please read a pretty amazing story of Colin Sander, a “green” cosmetic formulator in UK for almost 30 years. He too supported EWG. And he too feels being lied to as well. “Finally, I Have Worked Out What The Story of The Safe Cosmetics At 2010 is really all about”. We place Colin’s compelling story on our blog in 2 parts. Today Part #1 and tomorrow Part #2.
Part – 1
Since I was a teenager in the Seventies, I’ve always regarded myself as a pretty green. Green in the environmental sense that is.  I remember the campaign to get lead out of petrol with affection.  I studied Environmental Science at university and can remember talking long into the night about issues affecting the planet.
I think I even joined the Ecology Party, the forerunner of the Green Party when I was about 18 – though I don’t remember doing anything other than pay the subscription. Jobs were short when I graduated and I got a job formulating cosmetics rather than doing the environmental work I had originally had in mind.
I was surprised to find myself in an industry where people seemed pretty positive about issues close to my heart.  Biodegradable surfactants were a new thing but there was never any question of using anything else.  I have spoken on other blogs about the fact that formaldehyde was still in use then, but was being removed purely at the initiative of the chemists in the labs.
Given this, I have always listened with care and attention to the environmental lobby.  For a long time I didn’t have any problem with being an environmentalist as well as being a scientist at the same time as developing cosmetics.   They all seemed to be going in the same direction.
So when I first heard about an American pressure group called the Environmental Working Group I was predisposed to support them.  I came across the Skin Deep database and was initially quite impressed with the idea.  In fact I am still impressed with the idea.  Why not collect all the information about cosmetic raw materials onto a database and make it available to the public.  I hope somebody does it some day.
Even when I started looking things up on the Skin Deep database and found it to be almost comically inaccurate I still gave the people behind it the benefit of the doubt. I imagined enthusiastic young volunteers – probably in California – punching data in during all night long sessions powered by idealism and pizza.
I assumed that they would be getting complaints and would be putting it right shortly.   You always have to give people a bit of time to get things straight. Then I saw the Story of Cosmetics video.  This really changed things.  Whatever else you think of it, this is a professional piece of work.  Time, effort and money has gone into it.  And you can’t miss that it is propaganda not advocacy.  It sets out to scare.
Even now, I was prepared to justify it to some extent in my mind – as you will see if you read my post from only a few days ago.  They had gone off the scale for accuracy, but maybe they felt that they had to use modern techniques to get their message across.  I started to think of the EWG as sort of green Lenninists.
They had betrayed the ideals of the revolution, but they were still radicals.  They had chosen the wrong way to go about fighting the system, but they were still against the system.  Even when I heard about the very large salaries that the directors of the EWG were drawing from their organisation I still did not realise what was really going on.
But now I understand.  Did I say I was green?  Well I sure was.  Green in the sense of being inexperienced and unknowing in the ways of the world.
Today I saw a hand out from a recent trade fair in the US.  In it, a company called “American Private Label,” was pitching its services to American retailers.  Consumers, it says, want safe cosmetics.  What are safe cosmetics?
Well you have to avoid parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrances etc.  But it wasn’t a list of all the things that have got bad head lines.  It was specifically the things that the EWG have been campaigning about.  Helpfully the names as they appear on the ingredient list that you needed to avoid were spelled out. Almost every product on the market would fall foul of this list, including ones from companies that specialise in very green products.
Colin Sanders formulates cosmetics for 27 years from shampoos to pharmaceutical creams and is an active member of the Society of Cosmetic Scientists since 1985. His degree is in environmental science and he continues to take a keen interest in the impact of human activities on the planet. He writes an excellent blog www.colinsbeautypages.co.uk for users of cosmetic products with insider insights and a bit of science.



A True Beautiful Irish, isn’t she?

But there is more to this story than a beautiful face I was the fortunate and very happy person to live for almost 2 years in the southern part of the truly astonishing beautiful country of Republic of Ireland. People who know the country well understand that I am talking about a natural, wild beauty of great diversity.
A natural landscape that is unforgettable green hills and the Atlantic Ocean with huge rolling waves slamming the beach on arrival. With winters not too cold yet very, very wet and stormy. With palm trees one finds in South of Europe, not expecting these to see in a cool northern European country. These sub-tropical trees survive in Ireland while during the harsh winter in Holland, a country so nearby they would die.

    That is typical Ireland.

The unexpected. The mystery of survival of the greatest natural and economic disasters in the history of Europe.  Amazingly, the Irish take everything as it comes in their stride. My time living in a small town called Kinsale, taught me wisdom and understanding about these amazing people that seem to survive almost everything. Their look on life truly helped me as I was myself near a depression following a legal battle of 2 years with the government of my home country, The Netherlands.
Actually, Ireland was my big friend and supporter at the time when our company needed to flee The Netherlands! The Dutch government was going to close my factory in Holland as we refused to perform animal tests on our natural cosmetics at that time.
After a long battle that we were going to lose, despite the growing support from many Dutch people, and our case mentioned on national TV, radio shows and major newspapers, we were exhausted.  How long can a small company like Paul Penders continue to fight a government that hold on to old-fashioned laws?
I would never, ever do these horrible animal tests as the government demanded me to do. Rather than my business and ethical values being totally destroyed by these harsh government lawyers, servants of the word and not at the heart what was involved, we decided to flee the country when actually the IDA in Ireland, totally aware what was happening in Holland, welcomed us with open arms.
In fact they offered us a space in a Kinsale, a factory on top of a mountain where we could see the serenity of the ocean. There we tried to heal emotionally and get financially in better shape and from there we could make the big jump to America!

We made many friends in beautiful Ireland and I am thrilled to tell everyone that next year Paul Penders products will be available to Ireland as well!
Catriona Coyle, Owner and Managing Director of “Simply Natural, Inc.”; a company distributing various natural products to pharmacies and health stores in Ireland, has been a kindered spirit of Paul Penders products for already long time.  She wrote me few days ago that she is jealous of the wonderful location we have chosen in the tropical rainforests of Malaysia and there to make our products!  Well how much I understand why she wrote this during this most nasty storm season in UK and Ireland
Catriona loves our products even more so after having given them to lots of friends to try them out. We are looking forward to the introduction of Paul Penders products to Ireland in spring 2012. Now the question who is more lucky? We? Or the great people of Ireland? Whatever it is we wish Catriona lots of success and the determination to get the job done Well talking about determination, right? I wish to call the Irish heroes in that respect alone!