Meet Alison Kirsten, spa director of The Spa at Peninsula Beverly Hills (CA) and a 17-year veteran of the industry, who once wanted to work as a translator for the CIA.
American Spa: What was the path that led you into the spa industry?
Alison Kirsten: Being an avid swimmer throughout high school and college. I also had an interest in fitness and wellbeing. I started getting facials at a young age and fell in love with the beauty and makeup industry.
AS: What are the most challenging and rewarding parts of working in the spa industry?
AK: It is an ever-evolving industry so keeping up with all the latest trends can be a challenge. The most rewarding part is knowing that I get to transform people’s lives all day. I get to make them feel and look better.
AS: What has surprised you most about the wellness world?
AK: The fact that it is changing daily. There are so many companies out there promising the fountain of youth.
AS: Where do you think the industry is heading?
AK: I think we will see a surge in highly active treatments that deliver maximum results in less time. Innovative technology and advanced professional formulations are at the forefront, along with noninvasive equipment and modalities such as microcurrent, LED, and ultrasonic devices.
AS: What is the strangest client request you’ve fielded?
AK: I had a guest once who only wanted to do a massage when it was a full moon.
AS: What is the most bizarre treatment you’ve experienced?
AK: I had a treatment in Hawaii once where they walked on me holding on to these rails made of bamboo.
AS: What new spa treatment would you like to try?
AK: I’ve never tried cupping but that is something I have always wanted to experience.
AS: What’s your go-to spa treatment?
AK: Hot stone massage is my favorite.
AS: What two things don’t we know about you?
AK: I was born in South Africa and had the most unique childhood living in such an amazing country. I speak four languages, including Xhosa, which is the native language in the western part of South Africa.
AS: If you could work in any other profession in the world, what would it be?
AK: I wanted to be a translator for the CIA.
AS: How would you sum up your personal philosophy?
AK: Take care of people and treat them right. Be kind always.
AS: What’s the best advice you’ve received?
AK: My dad always said to me one foot in front of the other as you go through life’s ups and downs. I have never forgotten that to this day.