What is your greatest challenge as a male spa director?
“The biggest challenge that I face is how to market to a predominately female clientele base but also successfully engage the ever-growing male consumer. I believe that male spa directors have an advantage, due to the fact that we are surrounded by intelligent female leaders who are a great resource to lean on and give perspective on what female guests are truly looking for in their spa experiences. Simultaneously, we can also provide the male perspective that is often absent in spas and reach the male market.”—Damien Craft, spa director, The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village (CA)
“I’ve had to overcome the perception that I’m all business, and, while yes, that’s a big par t of what I do, as anyone in the spa industry knows, you are only as good as your technicians. I spend the majority of my time nurturing the creative and artistic talents of our bodywork healers. When my staff is content, our clients can sense the harmony, and, as a result, our business is flourishing.”—David Erlich, spa director, Spa of the Rockies at Glenwood Hot Springs (CO)
“As a male spa director, I think my biggest challenge is understanding the needs and wants of our female guests and their perspectives. What might be amazing for one, may fall flat for another. A perfect example is how we carry our stress. Women generally internalize their stress and carry it on an emotional level. Men tend to carry their stress more on a physical level. So when designing a stress-relieving treatment for men, it’s more about bodywork and stronger pressure. With our female clients, our emphasis is about moving the energy where the stress is being held. What works best for me is collaboration—to develop the concept, then collaborate on how to get there.”—Travis Kono, spa director, Moana Lani Spa at the Moana Surfrider A Westin Resort & Spa (Waikiki, HI)
“Being a spa director is a very challenging career choice that requires a unique mix of hard and so skills combined with a deep passion and understanding of spa. These skill sets as well as charismatic leadership are not gender speci‑ c. However, being a male in a female-dominated industry has come with some inherent challenges for me, personally. Over the years, I have had to develop my communication skills in order to be effective while interacting with staffmembers who are the highly intuitive, emotionally sensitive, creative, and artistic personality types that the industry draws. Early in my career, I recognized the need to complete my training in massage, esthetic, and cosmetology programs in order to gain acceptance and understanding. is was my greatest challenge. No matter what my successes were in the business world, I had to earn the respect and ‘buy-in’ from my team—that I was one of them and did actually understand and could empathize with the unique challenges they faced in the industry. Honoring what and how therapists do what they do and driving a successful business need not be mutually exclusive.”—Mark Amoriello, spa director, Three Springs Spa at Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa (Austin, TX)
“I don’t feel that being a male spa director poses any different challenges than those faced by my female counterparts. For me, it’s all about earning respect from my team and providing the same to each member of my team. It’s important, regardless of gender, to be all in, approachable, a problem solver, and passionate about what you do from a leadership perspective.”—Matt Walsh, spa & fitness director, The Spa at Keystone Lodge (CO)
“As a man i n the spa industry, my biggest challenge is developing a sense of trust between myself and my largely female client base. When women share a health or beauty concern with me, I want them to know that I understand their needs and to feel confident that the treatment I suggest will leave them looking and feeling their best. It’s about putting clients on the path to their best selves, both inside and out.“—Patrick Huey, corporate spa director, Red Lane Spa at Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts (multiple Caribbean locations)