NORWICH – Julie Pankey and Danielle Knerr were the closest of friends and each other’s
When Knerr, the former director at the Spa at Norwich Inn, died of cancer a few years ago,
Pankey thought it was important to create an award honoring the impact Knerr had on so
“Thousands walk through the door at the Spa at Norwich Inn every year,” Pankey said. “She
personally touched the lives of so many people that walked through the doors.”
In her memory, the Danielle Knerr Spa Leadership Award was established. Pankey, the
founder of JMPankey Partners, a spa consulting firm, started giving the award at yearly
SpaHive events. SpaHive events are gatherings where professionals in the spa industry
socialize and learn about new products and techniques.
The award is given to a spa industry professional that is a leader and shows humility,
compassion, empathy and discipline.
Pankey first met Knerr when they worked at the Spa at Norwich Inn in the late 1990s. Pankey
worked in the spa; Knerr was a housekeeper.
“We became friends because I often came in really early, or left really late,” Pankey, who grew
up in Norwich, said. “She was either starting or ending her overnight shift.”
Even when Pankey eventually took another job, Knerr and Pankey remained close friends
until Knerr’s death. Knerr meant to attend Pankey’s first SpaHive in 2017, but she was too sick
to attend. However, Knerr left her friend a message the night before.
“She was just really sad that she was going to miss this inaugural event, and wished me the
[best],” she said.
The first Knerr Spa Leadership Award was given in 2018 to another Norwich native, Jennifer
Boisclair, the spa director at the Norwich Spa at Foxwoods. She hadn’t known Knerr directly,
but said she was important to the Spa industry.
Award remembers former Spa at Norwich Inn employee
″[Knerr] was not only respected and adored by her team, but by her colleagues as well,”
Boisclair said. “It’s a tangible testament to the memory of her work.”
The most recent SpaHive was held at the Spa at Norwich Inn, and Martha Zyla, spa director
for the Cascade Spa at Mills Falls in New Hampshire, took home the leadership award.
“A little bit into the [speech] I realized it was me, and I was genuinely surprised and humbled,”
Martha Zyla said.
Zyla said that there are “no words to explain” being a part of Knerr’s legacy in some way.
“Not only is it an important recognition,” she said “but it is far more important that they’re
Pankey said that the spa industry is all about service. She hopes that comes through in Knerr’s
“What we can’t do is be self-serving” Pankey said. “What we do has to serve our guests.”
Article by Matt Grahn firstname.lastname@example.org from the Norwich Bulletin. To access the original article CLICK HERE.