Meet David Preslar, spa director at the Life in Balance Spa at Miraval Austin (TX), who joined the spa and hospitality industry in 1995.
American Spa: What was the path that led you into the spa industry?
David Preslar: My parents both suffered from lifestyle-related illnesses, and unfortunately, they passed away at a very early age because they didn’t take care of themselves. When they passed, I was working in the hospitality industry, but I was inspired to shift my focus to spa. I wanted to work in an industry that helped people find a path to wellbeing.
AS: What are the most challenging and rewarding parts of working in the spa industry?
DP: The most challenging, yet exciting, part of my job is to create experiences that are meaningful to people and then deliver on those experiences at a very high level every day. We want to exceed our guests’ expectations. The most rewarding part is when guests tell me that their experience at Miraval changed their life, and that they are different because of what they experienced at Miraval. This is why I do what I do every day.
AS: What has surprised you most about the spa world?
DP: I’ve always been surprised at the sheer diversity of offerings there are in the industry. There are so many different approaches to providing wellness services to guests, and I see that as surprising, enlightening, and highly inspirational.
AS: Where do you think the industry is heading?
DP: I think that spa experiences are going to become more personalized for guests. At Miraval Austin, we’re seeing a great deal of requests for private sessions, and our spa treatments that offer a more customizable experience are becoming extremely popular.
AS: What is the most bizarre treatment you’ve experienced?
DP: Our Vasudhara treatment was the most unique spa experience I have ever had. During the treatment, you are blindfolded and floating in a heated pool while a therapist performs Thai massage stretches. The pool also has underwater speakers playing otherworldly music. The end result of the treatment was extremely transformational. I was brought to tears by the experience.
AS: What new spa treatment would you like to try?
DP: We have a new spa treatment called Pranayama Dina at Miraval Austin that I have not experienced yet in its final state. During the treatment, guests are cradled in a hammock while the therapist massages them with their feet from underneath. To make the experience even more otherworldly, the room is completely dark with the Austin night sky projected on the ceiling. Another new treatment we have coming out is called Yojana, and I am very excited to try it with my wife. It is an interactive couples experience. Rather than the traditional couples massage, during Yojana, couples harness the healing power of sound as they take turns with a therapist playing Tibetan bowls. The sound vibrations allow energy to flow through both people, restoring alignment and intensifying the connection. It is truly powerful.
AS: What’s your go-to spa treatment?
DP: It may sound vanilla, especially coming from a spa director, but I love a full-body massage, a combination of deep tissue and Swedish. At Miraval Austin, I am gravitating towards the Jade Meridian massage, which uses Jade stones gliding over the Chinese meridian points to relax muscles and ease tension in the body.
AS: What two things about you don’t we know?
DP: I was a swimmer most of my life and swam competitively in college. I am originally from Chicago and am married with three sons, ages 6, 10, and 19.
AS: If you could work in any other profession in the world, what would it be?
DP: I’d be a spiritual teacher. I love to see the transformation in our guests and to witness people making positive shifts in their lives. It would be extremely rewarding to be the catalyst for those shifts in people’s lives.
AS: How would you sum up your personal philosophy?
DP: I approach every day by being very grateful for the things I have and the opportunities I’ve been given. I am extremely lucky to serve people at a place like Miraval and teach them about mindfulness, wellbeing, and healing.
AS: What’s the best advice you’ve received?
DP: Our corporate director of spa and wellbeing, Simon Marxer, has taught me that my job is to help other people achieve their dreams and goals. If I can help other people be the best they can be at their job, then I’m successful.