Meet Vivianne Garcia-Tunon, vice president of operations at The Well and a 23-year veteran in the industry.
American Spa: What was the path that led you into the spa industry?
Vivianne Garcia-Tunon: I was studying nutrition and fitness in college but dreaming of a career in fashion design at the same time. I have always been very torn between my love for science and art. I found the spa industry was the perfect combination of both. At 16, I started teaching nutrition and aerobics at a local spa. At 18, I landed my first leadership role at The Biltmore Hotel, followed by years with Mandarin Oriental and ESPA.
AS: What are the most challenging and rewarding parts of working in the spa industry?
VGT: The most rewarding part is the moment that a guest walks out of a treatment with that healthy glow on their face and tells me, 'That was an incredible treatment.' I live for that! It sounds very cliché, but true happiness does come from making other people happy. This industry allows me to give the gift of wellbeing to guests and team members alike. The most challenging part is finding talent that has a genuine sense of hospitality, guest service, and technical knowledge to deliver life-changing treatments.
AS: What has surprised you most about the wellness world?
VGT: I am surprised by the amount of false data, well-washing, and misinformation that is connected to the industry. Sometimes when people are not feeling well or have a chronic condition, they are willing to believe anything. The tenured wellness leadership around the world needs to ask more questions, pursue science, and conduct vast research.
AS: Where do you think the industry is heading?
VGT: I would like for the industry to direct its attention to the masses. In this interconnected world, my wellbeing is dependent on the wellbeing of my neighbor. Wellness should be accessible to everyone, and it is our job to champion corporate responsibility, changes in government, and changes in our medical system.
AS: What is the most bizarre treatment you’ve experienced?
VGT: Human wrapping in Japan and a shamanic treatment in the middle of the jungle in Mexico.
AS: What new spa treatment would you like to try?
VGT: I am more keen to try new experiences than new treatments, as I have a very holistic view of the spa. Next on my list is palm reading and meditation from Manjit Devgun at The Well.
AS: What’s your go-to spa treatment?
VGT: At the moment, it is The Integration at The Well. This treatment allows me to ask for what my body needs, which usually includes lymphatic drainage, deep tissue, and electrical stimulation. It is integrated, efficient, and results-oriented.
AS: What two things don’t we know about you?
VGT: In my free time, I dance flamenco, and I was a guest on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” I sat on the yellow couch and talked about vegetarian food with Oprah.
AS: If you could work in any other profession in the world, what would it be?
VGT: I’d be a fashion designer for the House of Chanel.
AS: How would you sum up your personal philosophy?
VGT: Dress for the job you want and be willing to work harder than most.
AS: What’s the best advice you’ve received?
VGT: This came from my mentor of 15 years, the founder of ESPA, Susan Harmsworth: ‘If you make yourself a priority; everything else will fall into place.’ When things are not going my way, I turn inward and that always brings me back.