Friday, 11 July 2014

The UK hosts the 5th WelDest Project meeting in the city of Bath

Bath Spa, a World Heritage Site famous for its Thermae Spa, Roman Baths and the city’s Neo-Classical architecture hosted the 5th Weldest Project Conference in the Bath City Hilton hotel.  Delegates from across Europe, including Austria, Finland, Germany and the Czech Republic as well as the United Kingdom met to discuss the outputs of this project, the Self-Assessment Tool and an E-Handbook.   How public bodies, destination management organisations and private companies can develop into a holistic health and well-being destination.
Bath was selected to host the event as the city is an epitome of a health and well-being destination in the UK. The city was founded according to legend in 863 BC, when Prince Bladud was cured of leprosy after bathing in the hot springs; with a statue of the legendary Prince stands in the Parade Gardens to honour the fact. 
 The WelDest Project Team in Bath

In AD 43 the Romans established Bath as a health and well-being spa town as a sanctuary of rest, relaxation and recuperation for their soldiers after battle, upon discovering three hot springs under the settlement. The King’s spring supplied hot mineral waters for the Roman Baths in the city, whilst the Hetling and Cross springs can still be bathed in today at the Thermae Bath spa. By the 12th Century hoards of sick people from across England came to Bath to wash away all their ailments in the healing waters. The development of St. John’s Hospice by Bishop Reginald of Bath and Wells in 1174 with accommodation provided for visitors established Bath as amongst the first health and well-being destinations. By the 16th Century the city was starting to attract visitors from across Europe as well as from royalty. Visits from Princess/Queen Anne to sample the waters turned the city of Bath into a fashionable premier resort and it was in this period that the city began to grow to how it looks today, through the ambitions of architects John Wood the Elder, Ralph Allen and Robert Adams to develop the city’s neo-classical architecture out of Bath stone. The oolitic limestone mined locally gave the city its distinctive light yellow appearance, turning Bath into one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. The unique freestone which is only found in the region surrounding the city, can be cut and sculpted in any direction to form building blocks. Bath Stone was used extensively as building material in the city for churches, public buildings, residential and industrial buildings throughout the 18th and 19th century by John Wood the Elder and Ralph Allen to create many of Bath’s iconic buildings, including Ralph Allen’s own mansion in Prior Park. John Wood the Elders other notable work in Bath included Queen Square, North and South Parades and The Circus, in the Palladian style to restore the city’s former ancient glory to harmonise with the ancient Roman Baths. The Circus is a circular space, divided into three segments of equal length with each curved segment facing one of the three entrances ensuring that whichever entranced is used by visitors there is a classical Palladian façade facing them. The grand vision of John Wood the Elder and completed by his son Jon Wood the Younger was that from above the Circus, along with Queen’s Square and the adjoining Gay Street formed a perfect key shape, a masonic symbol of the time. John Wood the Younger also went on to design the Royal Crescent, a row of 30 terraced houses laid out in a crescent moon shape close to Victoria Park.
These iconic buildings, the Roman Baths and the history of the city attract approximately 5.8 million day visitors as well as 232,000 overseas visitors to Bath per annum. Visit Bath exploits their history to promote the city’s spa culture to tourists as well as their spa products for pampering on their relaxing spa breaks.
The exploitation of a destination’s history and local traditions was amongst the many topics discussed in the Weldest Project meeting, on how a destination can become a successful health and well-being destination.