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Mayor to discuss ‘spa city’ with global hot springs expert

Mayor to discuss ‘spa city’ with global hot springs expert

Mayor Steve Chadwick’s vision for Rotorua to become the South Pacific’s premier spa city moves a step closer next week [12 May] when she meets with visiting international spa expert James White.

Mrs Chadwick and Mr White will be discussing Rotorua’s untapped potential to substantially develop hot springs and spa complexes, and examining options for future development.

Mr White is a specialist hot springs and spa development consultant whose MBA degree thesis was on commercial bathing and spa development concepts. He is a board member of the Australasian Spa Association and a member of the Global Spa & Wellness Summit Hot Springs Initiative task force.

Through Rotorua District Council’s economic development agency, Grow Rotorua Ltd, a concerted focus is currently underway on developing the district’s geothermal resources aimed at creating jobs and business opportunities for landowners.

As part of that focus Grow Rotorua has engaged Mr White to identify a range of successful business models from global research, with support from the Hot Springs Alliance Group of Victoria, Australia. The project has been running for the last 15 months and includes world-leading market and business research across 16 countries recognised for successful hot springs and spa development.

During his visit to Rotorua Mr White is meeting with Mayor Chadwick, Grow Rotorua and some local businesses to discuss his research to date and to explore future opportunities.

Grow Rotorua aims to attract inwards investment and create jobs for the district by working directly with landowners and transforming research findings into commercial development concepts and business cases.

Mrs Chadwick said that work supported the council’s Rotorua 2030 key goal around business innovation and prosperity, and more specifically business partnerships to “grow a sustainable economy energised by our natural resources.”

“Grow Rotorua can also provide access to global expertise and investment capital where required. They have a database of over 350 leading global spa operators, advisors and investors who could potentially help new developments to be successful.

“An example of the support Grow Rotorua has been able to provide was on my recent brief visit to our sister city of Beppu in Japan, a spa resort destination known internationally for its hot springs, or ‘onsen’ as they are known in Japan. With Grow Rotorua’s help I was able to meet with a number of onsen industry specialists and potential investors. As a result there is some real interest in business visits to Rotorua to look at our resources and to meet with local landowners interested in spa and hot springs development.”

Grow Rotorua general manager Francis Pauwels said that James White and his fellow research partner Charles Davidson, owner of Peninsula Hot Springs in Melbourne, are founding members of the Global Hot Springs Initiative based out of New York.

“The Global Hot Springs Initiative was established as a result of presentations Mr Davidson and Mr White made on their research at the Global Spa and Wellness Summit in Delhi last year. The goal is to make hot springs bathing a part of everyday culture as it already is in Japan and many other countries. After all who doesn’t enjoy a long soak in a hot bath?”

“Over the next six months Mr White and Grow Rotorua will be working closely with Rotorua landowners on concepts for developing geothermal resources, and building on the world leading research we now have available,” said Mr Pauwels.


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