Meet the jury

Prof. Dr. Müfit Zeki Karagülle, MD, PhD

President of Turkish Association of Spa Medicine and Balneology.

Dr. Karagülle is professor of medicine and the emeritus director of the Department of Medical Ecology and Hydroclimatology at Istanbul Medical Faculty of Istanbul University. Aside from directing undergraduate and post-graduate education and training programs, Prof. Karagülle has published research articles and has written and edited books and chapters on spa therapy, balneological therapies, health resort/thermal medicine and balneology. He is an internationally well-known expert and scientist in medical balneology and climatology and health resort/thermal medicine. He has organized, contributed, attended, and lectured in various meetings, panel discussions, and workshops and national, international, and mutual balneology and thermal medicine congresses and symposiums including Balkan Spa Summits. As a qualified medical specialist in medical ecology and hydro-climatology in Turkey, Karagülle is current president of Turkish Association of Spa Medicine and Balneology. He is the Founding Member of the Balkan Spa Institute

Stavros Mavridis

General Manager at Soul Tailors, Neo Irakleio - Greece

Stavros is born in Didymoteicho, Evros, Greece and has been involved in the Greek spa industry for the last 17 years. He has worked for large hotel chains in Greece and involved in the opening of many spas. He has a background and education in Physiotherapy & Sports Science and has hands on experience. He has been involved in the benchmarking report for the Greek spa industry and is a founding member of the Association of Greek Spa Managers of Greece. He is the Ambassador of Greece for the World Wellness Weekend, judge for the World Spa & Wellness Awards, Ambassador of the Hall Of Wellness Awards (HoWA) and member of the judging committee of the Greek Hotel Awards. He is passionate about his work and strongly believes in Wellness and the future impact it will have in the lives and evolution of humanity. Communication, consistency, cooperation are the fundamentals for a successful career and to build a team for a sustainable and successful project

Iztok Altbauer

Managing Director – Slovenian Spas Association

Iztok was appointed to the position as the Managing Director at the Slovenian Spas Association (SSA) fourteen years ago, after he spent most of his career in the tourism business. Before this position, he was the CEO of Globtour, one of the leading Slovenian Tour Operators at that time. He also spent several years in the Slovenian Tourist Board holding the position as the Manager of Sales and Marketing. He founded the Slovenian Incoming Workshop, still today recognized as the leading tourism Incoming event in Slovenia. In his years of work in the SSA, Iztok established strong connections to the Spa, Health and Wellness industry in the Region, holding and running many presentations and events. He is a regular speaker at conferences and in 2017 he was one of the speakers during ITB Experts Forum Wellness. One of the most important projects he is leading and running is yearly “SPA-CE” – Specialized Workshop and Meeting place of Spa & Wellness in Central Europe.

Vladan Vešković

Secretary general – Serbian Spas Association

After 12 years in private business, Vladan is a secretary general of the Serbian Spas Association since 2006. Serbian Spas Association successfully works for 53 years and gather 25 local municipalities and the same number of health institutions in spas, as well as colleges and universities in the field of medicine, hydrogeology, tourism, economics, and marketing. As secretary general of the Serbian Spas Association, he was the organizer of the four Serbian Spas Exchange, four Serbian Spa Congress, and 3rd Balkan Spa Summit. With numerous presentations outside of Serbia, he promotes geothermal potential of Serbia, which is now used by only 5 %. Uses every opportunity to remind the balneal tradition of Serbia, which has been successfully developing more than two centuries. Vladan is a member of the National Tourism Council of Serbia, formed by Serbian Government, Working group for spa tourism development, and Association for tourism at the Serbian Commerce & Economy Chamber

Simone Zagrodnik

Executive Director- European Historic Thermal Towns Association (EHTTA)

Simone graduated in business and tourism from the Cologne Business School in 2002, specializing in destination marketing and incoming tourism. She worked for tour operators in Thailand and Germany before becoming the tourism marketing manager for Wiesbaden in 2005. From 2008 to 2020, as Head of Marketing and Deputy Managing Director of Wiesbaden Congress & Marketing GmbH, she focused on health and cultural tourism and developed a passion for thermal heritage and spa towns. In 2020, Simone was appointed Executive Director of the European Historic Thermal Towns Association (EHTTA), having been involved with it for nearly a decade. EHTTA, a Cultural Route of the Council of Europe and an Affiliate Member of UNWTO, promotes European thermal tourism. It organized the International Congress on Thermal Tourism in 2022 and 2023 to raise global awareness of thermal tourism.

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