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The Well Executive

This Hawaii Company Is Targeting A Narrow Niche

LIFE IN THE WELL LANE: Lee Ann Del Carpio's coaching of executives includes aspects of health and wellness. Photo: Kent S. Hwang

A little more than three years ago, Lee Ann Del Carpio and her husband were on the executive fast track in New York City. At one point, Lee Ann was in charge of leadership development for the top 400 leaders at Avon Products Inc.

"We looked around and thought, 'Is this it? Is this what life is all about?'" she says. "We had achieved a certain level of success outwardly and we had the titles and the toys and the dollars to prove it, but, inwardly, we were feeling that our lives were not exactly in alignment with what we truly valued and what we wanted to honor in life."

Del Carpio had traveled extensively to more than 35 countries on business. In fact, at the time, she was spending more than half of each month traveling away from New York City. She had stopped frequently in Hawaii and found it to be a center for cross-cultural understanding and an environment where wellness was easily achieved. She and her husband, Javier, packed up, left New York and opened a Hawaii-based coaching company that targets executives.

Del Carpio says, "We quit our corporate jobs. Many people thought we were nuts. And we relocated ourselves and created a business here in Hawaii, specifically targeting the kind of people we used to be."

She is now the owner and president of Inner Power International, and one of her most popular products is a personal coaching retreat. It focuses on coaching around personal purpose, values clarification and action planning, to balance success and fulfillment. It also includes outdoor and Hawaiian cultural activities, such as viewing the lava flow on the Big Island, swimming with dolphins and lomilomi massage. These retreats start at $2,500, and do not include airfare.

Inner Power International was started a month before Sept. 11, but still brought in sales of $77,000 in 2001. In 2002, the company more than doubled its sales, to $165,000. Del Carpio says Inner Power's 2003 gross sales will be about $250,000, and expects that to grow significantly, if she is successful in building a strategic alliance with a leadership development firm in New York by the first quarter of 2004.

Del Carpio's business falls within Hawaii's nascent Health and Wellness Tourism category. The Hawaii Wellness Tourism Association was founded in 2003 by Laura Crites, the co-author of a guidebook on wellness vacations in Hawaii. The Hawaii Tourism Authority has funded a study to look at the relationship between tourism and health and wellness and to define the many ways these services are being provided.

It's a sector with a lot of potential, according to recent surveys, such as the American Express Leisure Travel Index (see inset), which shows that an increasing number of Americans want relaxation, as well as cultural and outdoor activities on their vacations. Del Carpio says that her particular niche of executive coaching and wellness retreats is virtually untapped here.

"There are many Mainland personal and leadership development companies that are offering retreats. They are offering them in the Berkshires or in Tucson or someplace that has appeal for local business affairs, but I think there's something much more compelling about Hawaii than Iowa," she says, with a laugh.

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