Posts tagged #spa consultant


Designing a Day Spa is one of my passions, especially when I have the opportunity to work with an iconic brand, along with visionary owners and interior designers. The commitment to perfection and following the process to get there, is for me a joy, rather than a tedious task. And such was the case when preparing the pre-opening of the Mitchelton Day Spa. 

Working with Hecker Guthrie Design Studio we began with a detailed design brief and an allocated space located on level 2 of the hotel. Once gathering the details of what was required of a day spa, the design team set to working on three possible floor plans. We then discussed the strengths and weaknesses of each upon which the designers quickly came up with another two variations. We were now close to getting it right! Just a few more refinements and our floor plan maximised the space, created optimal flow for the guest journey and reduced the problem of having staff 'running' through the day spa more than was necessary. 

Next we began working on lighting and electrical plans, joinery design and finishes and fixtures. Storage was maximised in each of the treatment rooms so that staff could efficiently turn their room around between treatments whilst also lessening the traffic of therapists visiting reception and back of house for supplies. Less movement equals more peace and a smoother and more effective operation. A drawer dishwasher and hot/cold water filter was built into the relaxation room joinery minimising the need for carrying tea cups to the kitchen. Private change rooms inclusive of toilet, basin and shower adjoin a open plan locker area so as to maximise the space, whilst also providing a luxury experience. All of these details ensure a seamless experience for guests and staff. 

The palette is calming with the addition of 'pop' features such as the tiles in the wet areas and the gorgeous dark green marble reception desk. The floor surface chosen is quiet, anti-fatigue, durable and perfect for a day spa environment where oils and product can easily damage and deteriorate a surface. Beautiful linen curtains and curved walls add a soft touch to the entire space, and removable covers grace the relaxation chairs and lounges so that a fresh clean look can be maintained. 

USPA was chosen as its a perfect fit for this beautiful country location. Made in Victoria and offering a comprehensive and natural face, hair and body collection, the USPA concept marries beautifully with all that Mitchelton stands for. 

The team at Pop-n-Pac Creative developed a luxurious linen bound spa menu compendium and matching collaterals based on the templates provided by Spa Wellness Consulting. 

Finally after many long hours of unpacking stock, setting up, implementing systems and training the team, the Day Spa at Mitchelton opened on the 1st of December. And very quickly we were inundated with gift voucher requests and forward bookings. If I dare say it, I believe this lovely day spa overlooking the Goulburn River and set amidst vineyards and the iconic Mitchelton Estate will very soon be considered one of Melbourne's best destination day spa's, and that makes me very satisfied, content and proud. 



Following the Global Wellness Summit, I wasn't going to miss the opportunity to join a post summit trip to the newly opened Chable Resort in the Yucatan region of Mexico. Ten years in the making, Chable first opened its doors in November 2016 and was already heralding international acclaim, so I was certainly looking forward to the journey. 

Based on ancient Mayan culture and set on the most exquisite 750 acre property, complete with remnants of ruins to remind one of centuries past, a beautiful blue hacienda houses the reception, retail boutique, a bar and some other spaces. Beautiful furnishings, artworks and sculptures grace each room and meet us upon our arrival to this other worldly resort. 

After check in I am escorted along a winding path to my private villa, set in amongst the jungle. The room is spacious and well appointed with a bathroom that connects to the outdoors, a comfortable king size bed and sitting area, along with a private plunge pool and terrace. I am in heaven! After a very social 10 days of travelling I am ready to rest and sink into the surrounding nature. 

A light lunch is served at the restaurant that sits by the most magical pool, before I make my way to an afternoon in the spa. The treatment menu is like nothing I have ever seen before so I book 8 treatments in the space of 3 days. I want to take in all of this mayan healing. I have Janzu, Rain Goddess Ritual, a Bio Energy Lift Facial, Mayan Herbal Compress Massage amongst other things. The menu also offers a Traditional Ceremonial Temazcal, however unfortunately the shaman is unable to perform the ceremony on the needed day which gives me a reason to return. I could hardly imagine going to stay at Chable without having at least one spa treatment from this amazing spa menu. 

The stand out feature of the resort for me is the day spa, but then perhaps I am biased as I am sure a cigar smoker or tequila drinker might say otherwise. In any case the central spa facilities are stunning, with treatment rooms branching off along a circular path overlooking the central cenote, which is a fresh water hole considered to be sacred in Mexican culture. Having other facilities such as the fitness centre, a café, swimming pool and yoga deck connected to the day spa keeps the wellness activities nicely connected. There is also a café located at the spa which offers a complimentary daily tasting of small bites. 

The men’s and women’s change room each have an outdoor thermal bathing area with sauna, steam, salt room, showers and hot and cold pools. Near the entrance to the relaxation lounge is a small open room that displays the local ingredients and herbs that make up the spa products and smoking ceremony mix. A large white conch shell set in the middle of a pond resides in the centre of the spa. Here and before my first ritual I was guided across the stepping stones and into the centre of the conch for a Mayan intention setting and smoking ceremony. Depending on the ritual chosen, some rituals began with drumming, sounding of the conch, rattles or other instruments. Definitely the most unique ritual experience I have encountered to date and I loved it!

The resort had a visiting yoga teacher who offered a number of classes during the day that included yoga, meditation, guided visualisation, journaling and talks on mindfulness. Most classes were on the yoga deck that sat on the edge of the sacred cenote. There were also another couple from Spain that facilitated a qi gong class accompanied by live spiritual music. This was both unique and wonderful. Led in the courtyard under the expansive shade of a large tree I was transported to another place with the movements, breath and sound.

Chable has found a way to successfully offer wellness alongside other cultural traditions of Mexico such as a cigar bar and Ixium, the fine dining restaurant, which has a tequila collection of over 3600 bottles. The food menu’s were not entirely wellness focused, but they were small portions of Mexican style food and the staff always enquired as to whether I had any dietary requests, so they were ready and able to cater to dairy, sugar and gluten free options.

Overall, Chable Resort has found a way to merge authentic wellness, mayan spirituality and healing, along with traditional Mexican culture, which is what makes it the perfectly balanced wellness getaway. 



I had the privilege of visiting Japan in May so that I could gain an insight into the culture and therefore conceptualise Japan's first wellness retreat. A luxury destination where guests can experience the Japanese approach to longevity and wellbeing, for which they are renowned. Beyond nutrition and movement, which is where we in the West often limit wellness, is the central concept of mindfulness that is inherent in the Japanese arts, and indeed in their very way of being. 

The simple, but compelling, act of mindful living offers an invaluable tool to cope with the pace of modern day living. Mindfulness reduces stress, improves sleep, cognitive function and balances the emotions. Here below I share a number of mindfulness practices that stem from Japan to offer a perspective on how meditation can be something other than 'the lotus position'. 

ZAZEN - In Zen Buddhism, zazen is a meditative discipline that is typically the primary practice. The precise meaning and method of zazen varies from school to school, but in general it can be regarded as a means of insight into the nature of existence. Zazen is practiced in different ways depending on its tradition. It may involve facing a wall or facing into the centre of the room with eyelids half lowered. It can also include a walking meditation in the room. 

JAPANESE TEA CEREMONY - The heart of the Japanese tea ceremony lies in simplicity of spirit which brings peace to the mind. The objective of the ceremony is not just to make a cup of tea; it is a deliberate exercise in being present in the moment, focusing on one task and appreciating the simple things in life. The ritual of the tea ceremony is based on the 4 fundamental Zen principles of harmony, respect, purity and tranquility.

IKEBANA FLOWER ARRANGING - Ikebana or kado is the beautiful, often strikingly minimalist, Japanese flower arrangement art. Ikebana means “giving life to flowers” and kado translates as “the way of flowers”. When Buddhism was introduced to Japan, monks started to arrange flowers to decorate the altars of temples.

KOTO LESSON - The koto is the national instrument of Japan. It is a stringed musical instrument that is plucked with ivory picks called tsume.

ORIGAMI - Japanese origami began sometime after Buddhist monks carried paper to Japan during the 6th century. The word "origami" comes from the Japanese language. "Ori" which means folded and "kami" which means paper. This traditional paper folding art is very relaxing and meditative. 

JAPANESE INCENSE CEREMONY - Kōdō ( 道?, "Way of Fragrance") is the art of appreciating Japanese incense, and involves using incense within a structure of codified conduct. Kōdō includes all aspects of the incense process, from the tools ( 道具 kōdōgu), to activities such the incense-comparing games kumikō (組 ) and genjikō (源 ).[1] Kōdō is counted as one of the three classical Japanese arts of refinement.

JAPANESE CALLIGRAPHY - Zen calligraphy is practiced by Buddhist monks and most shodō practitioners. To write Zen calligraphy with mastery, one must clear one's mind and let the letters flow out of themselves, not practice and make a tremendous effort. This state of mind is called the mushin (無 ? "no mind state”). For any particular piece of paper, the calligrapher must be fully present and has but one chance to create with the brush.

JAPANESE POTTERY - Learning to use the potter’s wheel takes patience, practice, and focus. It is also very relaxing and rewarding. Initially the class will make small bowls, plates or cups before progressing onto other forms. Hand building or sculpture, is another way to work with clay. The basic techniques are easier to learn than wheel throwing and there is a larger range of forms you can make. 



When I look back over my life I realise that my passion for health began in my early twenties. Living in Sydney and being an avid gym goer and bookworm on all things health, I would regularly make a weekend trip to one of the health retreats just outside of the city, where I could enjoy a healthy day of activities, food and spa treatments. Then at the age of 28 (17 years ago now) I booked myself in for a 10 day fasting and detoxification program on the island of Koh Samui in Thailand. My interest in this healing methodologie had come about from reading a book on fasting by Dr Bernard Jensen and having been quite the sweet tooth, despite my healthy diet, I felt that a good internal cleanse was in order. And indeed it was! 

At this same retreat I also discovered yoga, so I took myself along to the class and met the lovely teacher Jyoti, who later came to share a house with me in Sydney. And from here a whole new chapter unfolded as I learned a different approach to health, of not only body, but also mind and soul. At this same time I had also begun working as a chiropractors assistant and my understanding of health expanded beyond the books I had been reading. Further to this, the bookshelves in the office were filled with personal development books by authors such as Carolyn Myss, Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, Louise Hay and others, which opened up the exploration of the mind, quantum physics and spiritual growth.  

I also began to attend inspiring events with the likes of Dr John Demartini and Tony Robbins. I was hungry for change, growth and evolution and every book, yoga class and workshop had something to teach me. So little by little I began to grow in a different way... a way that was more at ease, more in flow and more optimistic and responsible. I also began to change the way I was speaking and thinking, as I came to understand the power of our beliefs, thoughts and words. I began to meditate and tap into my own inner knowing and awareness, which developed a greater sense of trust in myself. My whole way of living and being was slowly being transformed. 

Delving into a different spiritual perspective began when I went to study Yoga in India. I really had no idea what I was in for, and had I known I may not have gone. But once there, I surrendered to learning the wisdom held within the Hindu mythology and ancient texts. And in addition to this, just being in India and living in an ashram for 6 months has a way of giving one an altered perspective on wellness and spirituality. Whilst in the ashram, I also had the opportunity to go through an Ayurvedic Panchakarma cleanse, which was yet another way of approaching the detoxification of the body. And so in this simple chapter of vegetarian food, yoga, meditation, chanting and basic living I came to another level of understanding with regards to wellness. 

Since then, my travels have taken me to many different health resorts, specialised healers, somatic, embodied, motivational, spiritual and inspirational workshops, movement practices, retreats and classes. Every piece of learning has added to the puzzle of living our best life as a human being and for this Im eternally grateful. 

As the journey to wellness continues I realise more than ever it really is all about integration. Wellness goes far beyond how we eat and exercise. It is our life... it is clearing the past to lay claim to our future, it is the way we deeply connect to ourselves and others, it is a healthy level of self love, it is living a life of flow because we are being the truest expression of ourselves. Wellness is balancing movement with nourishment with stress resilience and emotional wellbeing. And having that kind of wellness does mean making it a priority, but it is so rewarding to look back on who you once were and realise that the person you are today is a testament to approaching wellness in the holistic sense... mind, body and spirit. 



When it comes to operational excellence the 'devil is in the detail' and it's the touch points considered at every turn that transform the spa experience from good to great and beyond. There is no space or service that demands more attention to detail and optimal operational flow than a spa. A guest enters the space in anticipation of a beautiful spa journey, where we offer an escape from the world of busy, where there are fine-tuned service details with a difference and where they are met by a polished and personable spa therapist. Our ability to deliver on this expectation comes down to how well we planned the original spa design. And if we don't have the luxury of working within a purpose built facility then some creative re-organisation may be required. 

Its often at the busiest times in a spa that the cracks begin to appear. There may not be enough seating in the relaxation room, the change rooms may be crowded, the reception area might be mayhem and lets not mention the probable stress going on behind the scenes. Its in these instances that an organised space and strong operational procedures can save the day. 

Over the years I have continually heard therapists complain when they feel their spa is not organised. Lack of operational flow puts so much more pressure on everyone and unfortunately the tension can hang in the air like a dark cloud. Its quite natural for staff to want to work in a spa that offers structure, standard operating procedures, a well defined guest journey, ongoing training and the equipment they need. It makes their work life so much easier, the standards are set and they can hold their heads high with pride. Who would have thought operational excellence would guarantee good staff morale? 

The win-win effect of an excellent operation is happy staff, delighted clients and a healthy business turnover. The spa space and the staff can be fully utilised because you are now running everything like clockwork. This cuts wage costs and increases the amount of bookings you can accept. And not only that, your retail sales can soar because your well defined guest consultation and retail process is set up to succeed. Every touch point has been carefully considered to deliver a seamless experience that can take your guest to a whole new level of 'let go' and in this day and age that is priceless.



The future of spa lies in attending to the ‘whole person’ and as we shift into this new era of wellness it becomes increasingly important to weave wellness into our usual treatment menu. Fortunately the options are both endless and interesting, limited only by your ability to embrace complimentary therapies as befitting spa. 

During my 3 year tenure as the spa and dreamtime manager for Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat I had the opportunity to work with over 30 practitioners who offered their own unique signature experience within the healing environ of the spa. I had the privilege of working alongside specialists in ayurveda, traditional chinese medicine, naturopathy, nutrition, kinesiology, psychotherapy, reiki, sound healing, intuitive reading, advanced massage therapies, chiropractic, buddhism and many other healing modalities. The interesting thing was that guests were actually seeking the unique and extraordinary. They wanted profound transformation of mind, body and soul. 

Spa’s and wellness retreats offer guests the opportunity to disengage from their stress, and as such, we are now quite literally in the stress management and health enhancement business. A spa offers a means to graceful ageing and skilful living and is perfectly placed to educate, inspire and empower. But how then, do we weave wellness into spa? 

First, take a look at your business and how you utilise your treatment rooms. Do you have a room that is unused or under utilised on certain days of the week? If so, you have the space for a specialty therapy. You might choose to offer one specialty therapy on one set day each week, or given more room to utilise, you might promote several therapies on a given day each week. For example: Kinesiology on Monday, Acupuncture on Tuesday, Naturopathy on Wednesday etc. If your spa is placed within a luxury resort you might host 'specialty practitioners'' during peak seasons and use this as an added PR exercise.

Why not enhance your current therapies by introducing healing elements such as reiki, reflexology, restorative yoga, meditation or chi nei tsang. Not only does this add a unique point of difference for your client, it also keeps your team learning and embracing new healing skills. You might send them off to training or run the training in house with one of your new or visiting specialty therapist's.

Know your wellness cuisine and always offer genuinely healthy refreshments. Liase with your chef and have him create a healthy spa menu that compliments the spa wellness experience. 

Base your business on a wellness culture. Consider the environment, recycle, use natural cleaning products, switch to rechargeable tea lights, incorporate natural skincare and ban smoking and sugar at work. It is important to remember that wellness begins at home and in your daily life. So be the change, set the example and show your team what wellness looks and feels like. And as the enthusiasm for wellness grows with your team so it does for your clients.