Hannah Osborne - A rewarding job that I never knew I was destined for!
Beauty was not my career choice. From an early age I wanted to be airline Cabin Crew and my first passion was to succeed in the Travel industry. When that didn’t go to plan due to 9/11 and shortages in airport staff, I started working in hotels and somehow fell into Beauty.
I decided to go back to college and study for an NVQ in Hair and Beauty and then concentrated on Beauty for the final year. I began my career by starting my own business in the hotel I was working in and ran it for 9 months. I then saw an advert for a Spa Therapist in a 5-star hotel Spa in Lemnos, Greece, working for Neilson Activity Holidays for a summer season and I went for it. Since then I have worked in several 5-star Spas, including Wildmoor Spa in Stratford upon Avon, Calcot Spa in the Cotswolds and the Mandarin Oriental, London. I am now Spa Manager at the Vaulted Spa, Kings Head Hotel in Cirencester.
Meet Hannah, Spa Manager at the Vaulted Spa, Kings Head Hotel, Cirencester
When working as a Therapist at Mandarin Oriental I decided I wanted to study Spa Management and settled on an online degree in International Spa Management with Derby University. This was a four-year distance learning course and I completed it while working full time. I would absolutely recommend this course or something similar. I acquired lots of valuable information and learnt many management skills that I still use today.
It’s not always glamorous and easy being in an industry dominated by women. In the eleven years I have been in the Spa industry I have come across a number of challenges in the workplace. I have, for example, found that stronger characters shouted louder than me and got promoted ahead of me and this was tough to take. Instead of letting it beat me, though, I remained determined. if you know your strengths and don’t let disappointment knock you, in time you will find the right opportunity and you will thrive. This is what happened to me.
There have been many highs and lows in my career and I have learnt lessons from all of them. A few thoughts of things to consider when working in spa include, firstly, how important it is to look after yourself. It can be tough doing treatments such as massage every day. It is important to get massages yourself, do stretches and rest. This will prolong your career within spas. The Spa industry is not 9 to 5 job. Shifts can be all over the place. You may miss important family/friends time because you cannot get time off due to booked-in treatments. This can, however, have a positive side because having days off in the week means it’s much quieter going shopping!!
During my beauty career I have met many talented therapists from around the world. They have taught me so much, including new techniques and massage skills. I would recommend therapists to learn from one another because it will help you become a better therapist. It definitely helped me. I have also treated some amazing clients, again from around the world, including celebrities and other well-known people. It was lovely to have an insight into their world.
I would like to see more support from colleges when moving into industry, more advice and guidance. Too many of my fellow students didn’t go into Spa because they weren’t given an overview of what a Spa career looked like so they moved into other sectors. I carefully chose each Spa I have worked in so that I could gain the best experience and improve my beauty skills and now my management abilities. I currently work with a supportive and knowledgeable General Manager and have been given the opportunity to run the spa as if it was my own business but always under his watchful eye. This has been the making of me and I am so happy to have found a place that has allowed me to flourish.
It’s so important as an industry that we support one another and learn from one another. As Spa Managers, we are here to develop and improve our therapists. They are the next generation of Managers and they need to be equipped ready to take that role in due course. To improve our industry and retain our therapists we need to give them a balanced workload, apply massage limits, give them breaks throughout the day, offer incentives and keep praising and thanking them for their hard work. It is easy to sit in an office and forget about your team. Being on the spa floor and doing treatments, leading by example, you will be more respected.
My final message to anyone considering a career in Spa is that it is ultimately so rewarding! You can work anywhere around the world in spas, salons and ships or have your own business. You can take many paths within the Spa industry depending on what you enjoy doing. You could, for example, become a massage therapist, facialist, holistic therapist, treat clients with cancer or other illnesses. The list is endless. I would recommend following your dreams. There may be some challenges along the way but I feel confident you will find the role and the Spa that works for you!