Big cities around the globe compete with their knowledge hubs and smart concepts in order to win talent, investors and large congresses. But it is a rather small Italian city and a region, that show an exemplary plan for how a serious approach is achieved to improve people’s lifestyle and health!

At my recent visit to the Palacongressi Conference Centre and CVB in Rimini, Italy, I discovered the most holistic and innovative concept of wellbeing and health in a congress centre, in the city and the whole area (Emilia Romagna) and I am a full-hearted ambassador for this great idea now. The “Wellness Valley” is an in-depth approach to “Healthy Meetings”, to “Corporate Wellness” and to a generally genuine attempt to improve life and health of citizens and visitors for the better.

Source of this initiative is a company named TechnoGym, which is a producer of gym equipment with 850 staff in the “Campus” near Rimini, which the area with the production site and administration building is called. Gym equipment the Italian way! With a super sleek design and great functionality, which obviously is the guiding force in all they do in this cell of innovation for the whole region.

Palacongressi congress centre and their concept of “wellbeing” for the delegates of any events taking place in the venue (same mantra: super sleek design in all details which is a source of joy while visiting, plus “German functionality” – the architects are from a German company) are one of the around 80 projects (“laboratories”) in and around Rimini, which have been initiated by the “Wellness Foundation”.

“Wellness Foundation” is in charge of researching and identifying projects which bring a positive change in wellbeing and healthy attitudes to the local people, to tourists and to delegates (which is the most interesting part for the work we do). In total they work on their different 80 projects – together with local stakeholders like communities or organizations/associations. These different projects  are the basis of the “Wellness Valley” concept in and around Rimini.

Luigi Angelini, Head of Communication, PR and Institutional Relations, shares his passion for the project with my colleague Lara Sandre of Palacongressi and myself, while we are sitting on the famous sitting balls in the airy conference centre (the building of Technogym is actually worth a separate story, as they have meticulously put into practice all what “Corporate Wellbeing” can stand for – stay put, if I have the time I am going to describe their concept separately!): “our whole approach is based on 3 dimensions: movement, nutrition and mental approach; Technogym has a strong mission, which is to make life better and healthier. Our scientific research department has a staff of 60, who help to develop projects with a great purpose. They also develop exercises using the equipment in a way that helps fighting chronic diseases, like cardio problems or back pain.”

A global campaign against childhood obesity “let’s move for a better world” together with around 500 Health Clubs around the world was just ended. The winner of the competition got to donate a set of TG equipment to a local school. What a great idea – could be yet another story and supporting the objectives of the “World Obesity Federation” (also on our newsroom)!!!

The “Wellness Foundation” is a non-for-profit foundation, which Nerio Alessandri, the owner of Technogym (yes, it is privately owned – guess what… another story…) initiated in 2003 and that became the germ cell of the “Wellness Valley” concept.

The “Wellness Valley” is the first district of healthy lifestyle in an international benchmark and is one of the new brand pillars of the area of the Emilia Romagna in their tourist promotion. An integrated Wellness Week (I should not mention it any more… But it could be another story) for the whole region takes place in May, 20-29, 2016. The Wellness Valley project is a multi-stakeholder approach and will be promoted worldwide.

Much of this mind set is to be found in the Palacongressi di Rimini, a new Convention Centre dedicated to provide the best in wellbeing opportunities to delegates attending congresses there. Many hotels in Rimini participate in the “Wellness Valley” and so does the community. Transfers to the centre can be on bicycles (I did it, story is yet to come…), left-over food is donated to a local nearby charity and options for healthy menus are plenty. The chef of the catering for the Palacongressi is also very engaged in the projects – meaning that healthy catering is also available for events anywhere in and around Rimini. Just to give a few examples.

So this was about the “Wellness Valley” and the “Wellness Foundation” as it is important to  understand that the initiatives of the Palacongressi with regards to Wellbeing and Healthy Meetings are part of a much bigger context and a very smart approach to develop a better life and health for both locals as well as visitors.

Johanna Fischer