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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.


07 FEB 2017: Wellness matters and is making a significant impact on the world economy.   According to the recently released 2016 Global Wellness Economy Monitor by the Global Wellness Institute (GWI) the worldwide wellness industry grew more than 10 percent to $3.72 trillion US from 2013-2015.  Yes that’s trillion.   In that same time period the global economy shrank almost four percent.  What is the number one wellness tourism market in the world and where does Canada rank? MORE

24 JAN 2017: The Travel Avatar books the client’s trip.  Robot concierges greet the guest arriving in the driverless car at the hotel entrance.  The guest proceeds to a non-staffed front desk and places their hand on a fingerprint scan machine. Entering the hotel guest room the lighting, design, and fixtures are adapted to the client’s precise specifications.  Is this the hotel of the future?  Will agents be involved in the booking process? MORE

10 JAN 2016: There’s nothing better than a good rub.  I’m not talking about the spicy and delicious Jamaican jerk seasoning rub applied to a variety of Jamaican dishes which makes your taste buds rise up and dance.  This kind of rub is performed by the hands of skilled therapists at numerous Jamaican spas.  For this rub, the sense of taste takes a back seat to the sense of touch – one that cleanses, soothes and revitalizes as the warm breezes of Jamaica’s Caribbean Sea waft over you. MORE

Travel Bumps and Trumps
27 DEC 2016: No one can say 2016 was an uneventful and boring year.   It was a year featuring the biggest reality show on earth – the US election.   Daily television clips, social media posts and tweets in the nastiest, R-rated election campaign ever which resulted in Donald Trump being voted in as the next President of the United States. The travel industry for its part had its bumps and triumphs in 2016 that presented challenges but also opportunities. MORE

13 DEC 2016: The holiday season is in full swing and merchant’s cash registers and credit card processors are ringing up the profits.  Gift giving is part and parcel of the holiday season in this materialistic world.  Instead of another ugly Christmas sweater, tie, pair of socks, kitchen appliance or some electronic item that will break down days after it has been used, why not be more thoughtful and give the gift of wellness and good health to someone – or even yourself. MORE

Travellers can make a difference
29 NOV 2016: People travel for many reasons.  To learn and discover new lands, engage with people from other cultures while others just want to chill, let loose and have fun.  All valid reasons to travel.   It’s a bonus when you travel for all those reasons but also contribute to the betterment of others.  On a recent visit to the islands of Anguilla and Jamaica I had the opportunity to meet with individuals and organizations who are giving back to the community and which visitors can also make a valuable contribution. MORE

15 NOV 2016: This month is the 40th anniversary of the first “Rocky” movie created and starred in by Sylvester Stallone.  Back in 1976, Rocky was too busy working out and securing a boxing title to care about how his face looked or if his battle worn hands and nails used for punching opponents could use a good buff or his feet a soothing soak and clip.  Rescue Spa in Philadelphia can provide some welcome relief to both Rocky and I and our aging bodies. MORE

01 NOV 2016: Elton John’s 1975 hit song, “Philadelphia Freedom,” kept entering my mind as I drove to Philadelphia bent on “Shining a light” as he sings in the song.   I had heard there was a real culinary renaissance in recent years.  Bon Appetit, Saveur and other top foodie magazines have written about the food scene there.  My thoughts reverted back to Sylvester Stallone and his Rocky movies where he has raw eggs for breakfast.   My six pack tends to roll out – a sign I like food.  Can Philly measure up? I was ready to discover and shine a light on Philly but upon arrival in the city I immediately felt guilty and out of place.  Why? MORE

18 OCT 2016: Sore back.  Aching knees.  Splitting headache.  Tired feet.   Welcome to the litany of physical woes told by workers young and old that you hear daily in the workplace.   It competes on the water cooler topic circuit with the weather and the latest head-scratching thing Donald Trump has said.  What can be done at your workplace to increase the overall health and wellness? MORE

Old and New
04 OCT 2016: Unlike the last day of the year, the advent of fall for some reason always makes me slip into a temporary nostalgia phase.   I confess I’m a sucker for looking at old pictures including my own before the effects of being in the travel industry for 30 years took hold of me.   Reminiscing can be fun on how the industry and its practices were back then and how it is today.  Some changes for the better but I do wish we could turn back in time on other things.   Do you remember when - MORE

20 SEP 2016: The urban jungle can be detrimental to your physical and mental health.  The Miraj Hammam Spa by Caudalíe Paris is a welcoming oasis of tranquility despite being in the centre of the urban jungle.  It’s located on the 5th Floor of the five-star Shangri-la Hotel in downtown Toronto. Upon entering the spa you immediately leave the world of stress and begin a journey of relaxation and calmness.   It’s a journey that takes you from Old World traditions to New World rejuvenation. MORE

Times are changing
06 SEP 2016:  Labour Day not only meant the end of summer and the kids back to school but the start of the onslaught of product launches, sales missions, media blitzes and trade shows.   Some would start in mid-August but September and then October were the two busiest months for industry events.  Are those days gone?  Sure you still have some of the road shows and launches, but they seem to be decreasing.  Why? MORE

23 AUG 2016: “High touch is better than high tech,” explained Keeran Sripongpunkul, Six Senses Samui’s Wellness and Spa Manager to me during an interview.   Those words really resonated with me as I was surrounded by an idyllic island tropical paradise in Samui in southern Thailand.  My bliss was not a result of anything high tech but a direct result of the lack of it.   MORE

Separating Myth from Reality
09 AUG 2016:  Passion.   It’s an emotion that can fuel love but unfortunately it can also fuel hatred.   On a recent week-long trip to Israel with a small group of Canadian journalists I would discover and experience both.  This was my first trip to Israel. I had my preconceived notions of what Israel would be like from the extensive media coverage as well as talking with others who I knew had been to Israel.   Like a tossed salad, Israel at least for me was a mix of incredible historic and cultural sites, cuisines and cultures.  From modern highways passing by ancient ruins, to peace lovers to conflict worn soldiers.   MORE

26 JUL 2016: When I began going to spas more than 25 years ago, spa cuisine was in its infancy – unimaginative, lacking any taste or flavours and basically was an afterthought in most spa operations.   Today however it is not unusual to enjoy a meal at a spa which would give serious competition to any Michelin star restaurant.    MORE

12 JUL 2016: There have been numerous events in the past few weeks that have had and will have a direct affect for travellers and those working in the travel industry. From the Brexit vote to all the police and black victim shootings in the United States, to the controversy surrounding Toronto’s Pride Festival, makes me worry about a more isolationist approach when it comes to relations between countries and various interest groups within communities. The global village Marshall McCluhan spoke about decades ago has now turned into a battlefield. Why the mayhem? MORE

28 JUN 2016: Thailand has an ethereal effect on me.  Even before my body surrenders to the warm and skilled hands of a Thai therapist my mind has drifted off to another world of peace and tranquility.   Career demands, deadlines, worldly stresses are relegated to the deep recesses of my mind.  Perhaps it’s the Buddhist culture that permeates Thai society or their gentle and service oriented nature to please which I find generates an immediate sense of calm.  I was about to discover that calmness both in various spa therapies and an unlikely source – elephants. MORE

14 JUN 2016: Sad. Senseless. Bloody. The world has reacted with shock and horror to the events this past weekend when a gunman opened fire against patrons at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, killing 49 and seriously wounding 53 others. It was the worst mass shooting in modern US history. The gunman, Omar Mateen, was shot dead by officers. What leads a person to such hatred and madness against individuals who were just out having a good time with friends? MORE

A revenue opportunity
31 MAY 2016: Over the years I have heard from agents or from female travellers when booking a vacation and they want to incorporate some spa/wellness elements into the package. Or for some they would love to go to a destination spa resort. The problem is sometimes the male half in the relationship isn't interested. It's a missed revenue opportunity sometimes for the agent if she can't convince the guy since he may have preconceived ideas what a spa vacation may be. How do you get your guy to the spa? MORE

17 MAY 2016: Travel to Canada is back in favour again with tourists according to the most recent arrival statistics and a panel of industry experts. That was the sentiment expressed by many on the panel of industry experts at the 11th Annual Leisure Travel Summit held last week in Toronto and hosted by Best Western Hotels and Resorts. Why the change? MORE

03 MAY 2016: I try in vain to make my body impersonate a human pretzel in the restorative yoga class at iwa Spa, one of Canada's newest spas located in Blue Mountain village just two hours north of Toronto. I look over to Melissa, the yoga instructor and the other women and one guy in the class and for them each movement seems effortless. Then there is me. The realization hits me - aging and beer belly aren't the ideal elements for yoga success. Can iwa Spa and its treatments put me back on the road to wellness? MORE

19 APR 2016: Politicians say and do the damnedest things. Some things leave you scratching your head and others that can infuriate you. Over the years when it comes to tourism many politicians of all stripes both here and abroad really make some boneheaded decisions.  MORE

Treating Mom Right
05 APR 2016:  One of my biggest regrets in life was never treating my mom to a day at the spa.  Unfortunately she succumbed to Alzheimer’s disease after battling it for many years even though she was only 72 years old when she passed away.  My mom had various health issues and I think before Alzheimer’s really set in how much she would have enjoyed being pampered for a change rather than being in mother mode all the time.   With Mother’s Day coming up May 8th it’s not too early to think about all the wonderful moms out there.  Why not treat your mom to a day or even a full spa getaway if you can afford it. Your mom is worth every penny and it’s going to be more memorable than a box of chocolates or brunch at a jam packed restaurant with frazzled wait staff. MORE

Nature Spells Success
04 APR 2016:  In resort driven destinations such as the Dominican Republic many resorts try and outdo one another with the snazziest decor, bounty of activities, or latest in technology.    Though important to keep up with the times and trends, Vista Sol Punta Cana resort’s  commercial director Jacqueline Bel believes the reason her resort is so popular with guests is a more down to earth atmosphere – literally. MORE

No Thanks
22 MAR 2016: Technology be damned.   Give me the human touch and personality any time – even when that human can be indifferent, rude and inhospitable.   According to a recent TravelZoo survey conducted with 6,000 travellers in four continents, 80 percent of respondents indicated they expect robots to play a major role in their lives by 2020 with two-thirds of respondents saying they would be comfortable with robots being used in the travel industry.   I would like to state categorically I am in the one-third who won’t be comfortable with robots.   MORE