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Chris Ryall

Chris Ryall is an industry insider with strong, outspoken opinions that readers enjoy, whether they agree, or take issue, with his viewpoint.

Chris actually writes two columns, The Ryall Report, a general "whatever's on his mind" article which is often filed from exotic travel locations, and The Spa Scene, about (surprise) spas - which is an absolute must for any spa enthusiast or anyone with spa loving clients.

The columns run on alternate Tuesdays.


Welcome Sexual Wellbeing

09 FEB 2016: US based Spafinder Wellness 365, the world’s largest marketing wellness organization, recently announced its top ten wellness and spa trends. This is the 13th year of its annual Global Spa and Wellness Trends forecast and the ones selected usually reflect aspects of our society and lifestyle. Occasionally there are a few trends where you are left scratching your head. This year’s top trends threw out a couple of surprises including one that caught my attention: Sexual Wellbeing- Taboo No More.

Travel Agents

26 JAN 2016: Something rare happened last month. An article appeared in a Canadian newspaper (National Post) actually saying travel agents are in more demand than ever. Now it’s customary in the travel trade press to toot our own horn but the consumer press for the most part in the past twenty years has been saying people have discarded travel agents and happily book their own travel on the internet. Well not so fast.


12 JAN 2016: From Africa's second highest mountain, Mt. Kenya, to the vast African savannah, home to hundreds of species of wildlife and birds to the coastline filled with sandy beaches and Indian Ocean's warm waters, Kenya is blessed with stunning landscapes. You can experience wellness opportunities from safaris, hiking, hot air ballooning, kayaking, mountain climbing, stargazing or just curled up reading a favourite book with a sundowner. Wellness knows no bounds in Kenya.


29 DEC 2015: The year 2015 featured battles in the boardroom, the courts and increasingly in the air between passengers and cabin crew. Fortunately there were expressions of compassion and generosity as many but not all nations welcomed Syrian refugees fleeing from their war-torn homeland. The year was filled with mergers, diplomacy and sadly more deadly terrorism incidents. It was a year that many won’t soon forget.


15 DEC 2015: Mexico City wasn’t just the setting in the opening minutes of the recent James Bond film, Spectre, but it also played host to almost 500 delegates from more than 40 countries in the 9th annual Global Wellness Summit in November. I’m sure Bond, who is shot, punched and kicked at in his films would appreciate a little wellness and some spa treatments!

The future of Tourism in Africa

01 DEC 2015: Africa.  A continent made up of 54 countries and the African Union state of Western Sahara (not recognized by Morocco) has a population of over one billion and is the world’s second largest continent. Africa receives more negative media coverage than any other continent. Is the media coverage fair? What is myth and what is reality when it comes to tourism and safety to the region?

The Winners Are

17 NOV 2015:  International spa and wellness awards may not garner the prestige or attention like the Oscars, Grammys or Junos but for those in the spa industry it is a recognition of their standards and practices and popularity amongst spa enthusiasts worldwide.  


03 NOV 2015: Travel agents are in the vacation business – as facilitators and organizers of vacations but not necessarily as takers of them.  That thought occurred to me as I read a recent press release issued by Expedia.ca on how Canadians apparently left close to 10 million vacation days on the table. I wonder how the same study of travel agents would compare to the typical Canadian. Would agents use more or less vacation days?


20 OCT 2015: It’s not just the hot rocks at a spa that can give off heat.  Visiting a spa is a sure-fire to ignite or in some cases reignite the flames of passion. Staying at a spa you can release those unhealthy daily stresses while at the same time unleashing your romantic side.  Think about it – idyllic and picturesque setting, relaxed state of mind, being pampered by highly trained staff.   The romantic gods are perfectly aligned to create some fireworks while being the perfect tonic to rejuvenate and relax your body and mind.


06 OCT 2015: I raise my glass and breathe in the tantalizing aroma swirling around and prepare for a velvety smooth and rich taste sensation – a vintage port from the famous Douro wine region of Portugal.


Travel Agents Lag Far Behind

22 SEP 2015:  The worldwide wellness travel market is estimated to be worth US $494 according to the Global Wellness Institute’s “Global Spa and Wellness Economy Monitor 2014.”   Yet amazingly very few agents tap into this lucrative client market.  Spafinder Wellness 365, a well-known and international resource for the worldwide spa industry, has just come out with its annual report surveying travel agents on wellness travel and its findings should be a wake-up call for agents to tap into this market.

Cutting the Cheese

08 SEP 2015:  Sometimes your travels can take you to the most unlikely of places.   This happened to me recently.  I found myself in the tiny hamlet of Balderson, Ontario about an hour’s drive southwest of Ottawa.   Here I was standing at the renowned Balderson Village Cheese gourmet foods store just a few from a decorative display of various aged cheddar cheeses.    For me it was a Wes Craven horror movie in Smellovision. I should explain.   Cheese and I have an unhealthy relationship.


26 AUG 2015:  Reflecting and rejuvenating are not always synonymous activities.   But on this sunny summer day lounging in a comfy chair with the meandering banks of the Tay River in Perth, Ontario in the distance, my mind is in a reflective and relaxed mode.   It’s easy since I will be surrendering my body to the hands of a skilled therapist while experiencing a maple infused body massage at Tay River Reflections.   

Live Free and Have Fun

11 AUG 2015: New Hampshire teases the visitor like a seasoned stripper. The Granite state reveals itself slowly and seductively providing an alluring peek into its crevices and curves of its ever-changing landscape.


28 JUL 2015: I wrote about Kurotel Longevity Medical Center in a previous column though more from the viewpoint of the variety of top medical services they offer their guests.  Situated on the edge of the picturesque town of Gramado, Kurotel embodies the natural essence of the Bavarian forest laden area with its lush vegetation, meticulously landscaped streets and neighbourhoods.   

Who Should Pay

14 JUL 2015: Every now and then you hear or read about horrific tales from a traveller who may have come down with malaria or yellow fever while travelling abroad.   Travel vaccines in most cases would have prevented this from occurring.  Recently Toronto Public Health submitted a proposal to the Ontario government requesting that the province cover the cost of travel vaccines.  Should the government or the traveller pay for vaccines?

Traditional or Social Media

16 JUN 2015: I have just returned spending five days at the Travel Media Association of Canada’s (TMAC) annual conference and media marketplace in Peterborough, Ontario.  There were many issues vociferously debated at the conference both in private conversations as well as in open forums and professional development sessions. 

Sheraton Maui Resort and Spa

02 JUN 2015: “You Look Marvelous” performed by entertainer Billy Crystal back in 1985 was a parody of Fernando Lamas and became a popular saying.   One can say the same about Maui with its more than 80 beaches, year-round great weather, scenic beauty both on land with its stunning volcanoes and lush rainforest and the crystal clear waters surrounding this Hawaiian Island gem. 

Always Evolving

19 MAY 2015:  The all-inclusive resort – some travellers embrace the concept and love staying at this type of resort.  Many travellers would never venture near one and avoid it like the plague.   My own view has changed over the years from my first visit to an all-inclusive style resort about 30 years ago when I visited the Jack Tar Village resort in the Bahamas to more recent trips to a variety of all-inclusive resorts the past couple of years.  How has the all-inclusive resort concept developed and changed over the years? 

Not Just for Beach Lovers

05 MAY 2015: Myrtle Beach has been a perennial favourite destination for many Canadians attracted to its miles of sandy beaches and more than 100 golf courses.   Families and duffers love the more affordable pricing and Canadians have always been welcomed at the destination with open arms.   On a recent trip in April to Myrtle Beach I indulged in another favourite pastime – visiting a spa.  I thought it might perhaps give me a more relaxed and better swing on the golf course.

Reconnecting with an Old Friend

21 APR 2015:  After a few years of withdrawing marketing and trade activity, the CTC is now again allocating more resources and budget to the US market. As Arnold Schwarzenegger would say, “I’m back!” Why is the CTC now back in the US and how can agents here capitalize on that opportunity?

Stoking the Fear

24 MAR 2015:  Newspaper front pages, the twitter universe, TV broadcasts were emblazoned with images of the latest terrorist attack on March 18, at Tunisia’s world renowned Bardo Museum in Tunis.   Twenty tourists and one Tunis policeman were killed and fifty others were injured in the attack where both terrorist gunmen were shot dead by police.   Tunisia is not a mass market destination but there are thousands of Canadians who visit the country every year.   
If you were a tour operator or travel agent who had clients going to Tunisia what did you tell them?  How did you allay their fears?  Are they still going?

Kurotel is a life changer

10 MAR 2015:  Pierre de Coubertin, the father of the modern Olympic Games espoused the Olympic values of respect, fair play, pursuit of excellence, joy in effort and balance between mind, body and will.   Those values will be top of mind when Rio de Janeiro hosts the Summer Olympic Games in August, 2016.   I decided to do my own version of the Olympic Games recently that would test my willpower, fitness level and overall health at the Kurotel Longevity Medical Center and Spa located in Gramado, Brazil.   My results didn’t earn me any gold medals but I came out of the experience at Kurotel smarter, stronger and healthier.     

Less Money, More Work

24 FEB 2015:  Is working in the travel industry a sure-fire path to poverty or are there hopeful signs someone can make a decent living.  Wage scales in the travel industry are far below other industries.  Is there cause for optimism?   Recently the Conference Board of Canada published its 2015 Compensation Outlook report.  What did it predict for employee wages in the Canadian Services and Accommodation sector for 2015?

Forest Baths to Wellness Communities

10 FEB 2015: The multi-billion dollar spa and wellness industry reflects many of the trends that may be occurring in other facets of society – technology, social issues, healthcare and economic issues. These all have a direct effect on what may be the spa/wellness trends of tomorrow. Spafinder Wellness 365, a well-known and international resource for the worldwide spa industry, came out last month with its 2015 spa and wellness trends. More than ever current society mores, values and even legislation have influenced this year’s spa trends.