It’s never too late to start a career in the spa industry, honestly, because that’s exactly what I did 8 years ago.
I’ve always like to try new things, at 18 I left home and went to explore the world working in various roles from windsurf instructor, to bar work to ski fitting, more than 25 countries and 4 years later I finally came “home” and started university – at this point I was still still completely unaware that I’d eventually end up in spa management career.
Immediately after leaving university after graduating in International Business Management, I was fortunate enough to secure a place on the Rolls-Royce graduate management scheme. After 6 months I was off of the 18 month scheme and working as a Commercial Manager “selling” aircraft engines to airlines in North Asia and the Middle East. My total engineering knowledge is still limited to “suck, squeeze, bang & blow” for how an engine works, but it was during my time here that I realised that I loved working in sales, had a passion for revenue management and people, but just didn’t find engines, dare I say it – sexy! So, I decided to think about what I did have a passion for, and through some brainstorming came to spa – yes, having worked in countries such as India, China, and Oman, I’d been fortunate to stay in some amazing hotels and each time visit the spa which I’d fallen in love with. Three years after starting as Commercial Manager and with a Sports Massage qualification under my belt I left Rolls-Royce and headed to Cornwall, well, if I was going to start a new career then I also wanted to learn to surf at the same time……….
And since then, over 8 years after leaving Rolls-Royce, I can honestly say that I’ve not looked back – and now I’m the pre-opening Spa Manager for South Lodge Hotel, with the spa opening in March this year.
Advice I would give to anyone wanting to change career and work in the spa industry is to really go for it, immerse yourself into the industry – in the first six months after I moved to Cornwall I worked as a casual therapist at 3 very different spa’s – The Cowshed, Fistral Beach & The Scarlett – each one taught me something exciting and interesting about the industry and along the way I got to make friends with some amazing people.
Along the way I just kept learning – whether that was taking extra courses in subject such as Hot Stones, or going on product training, there really is so much out in there to learn about and to take an interest in – the beauty and spa industry is huge.
In fact, my learning took me to discover more about the aesthetics industry (including a stint working with Canyon Ranch and Steiner on the cruise ships), where I realised that “wellness” can involve combining more hands on traditional spa therapies with aesthetics. More recently I’ve launched my own business the Aesthetics Collective which delivers aesthetic treatments such as anti-wrinkle injections, dermal fillers, laser hair removal and much more into spa’s (we provide everything needed for the treatments so that the spa doesn’t need to).
I’m working hard at the moment to combine having my own business with being a full time spa manager, and yes, sometimes I feel like I’m crazily busy, however I just absolutely love what I’m doing – and I always make sure to take time out (often a trip to the gym or a walk with my dog!).
If there were three challenges that I encountered changing career then I’d say they were:
1. Choosing the right course as it’s a huge investment – there are really so many out there it can be difficult to choose which course to do, take time to look at what the course offers and how long it takes – I knew I wanted to focus on massage and that I wanted to specialise in sports so I started there and added in the more beauty elements.
2. Making the break – it’s so easy to stay in a career that you’re not enjoying, however, take the time to work out how you’re going to make the change work for you. For instance I knew that I needed to get some therapist experience under my belt and to do that I needed to try several different spa’s to discover what type of spa I’d be best suited to, so I combined that with moving to Cornwall, so that either way, I’d either become a great surfer or a great therapist (needless to say, I still can’t surf!).
3. Changing the perception of working in the spa industry – it was interesting to me how many managers from other industries almost lose interest when I say I’m a spa manager, yet when I mention that I used to work “selling” aircraft engines that they suddenly take me more seriously and become more interested. You can really have a very empowering, interesting and diverse career working in “spa” and I don’t think that people sometimes realise this.
I absolutely love working in the spa industry, from the diverse people I get to meet (both those in my teams and the guests that treat), to the new exciting treatments on offer – it’s a vast and valuable industry to work in – there aren’t many chances to work somewhere where you can make such a difference to others.
If you’re looking to change career and aren’t sure, then please, feel free to contact me, I’d be happy to help.