Spa Talk With Vivian Henein of The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills

Meet Vivian Henein, director of wellness at The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, who has more than 16 years of experience in the spa and hospitality industry.

Photo credit: Vivian Henein

What was the path that led you into the spa industry?  

While I was attending college for my business degree in management and operations management, I began my hospitality career as a spa coordinator and within a couple years, I found myself running the spa. It is such a great industry full of so many opportunities, a beautiful community, education, and creativity, and I was able to use the business acumen I was learning and put it in real-life scenarios. Once I was able to see the management side of the industry, everything just made sense for me.

What are the most challenging and rewarding parts of being in the spa industry?  

Hospitality in general has very rewarding and challenging attributes, in general. As I work in spa in hotels, the employee benefits are extremely rewarding. Being in spa, it is so beneficial when we make an impact on an individual in a positive way. We reach so many types of guests from all over the world, and each person has their story. I truly enjoy hearing all the wonderful stories, what brings each person to our spa, and how we can impact their lives positively, even if it is just for one moment. The challenges of working in Hospitality/ Spa is our work life balance, you must make a conscious effort daily to ensure a balance, otherwise it is possible to burn out quickly.

What is your proudest accomplishment?  

My biggest wellness achievement this far has been completing my training with a private fitness gym in Los Angeles named Ultimate Performance (UP). They taught me about nutrition, how to read food labels, and understanding meal portions for my specific body. The most impactful takeaway was how to work out properly using proper posture while on weights, as I was always discouraged from lack of knowledge. I began training with UP in 2019 after my father’s passing.

My father suffered with a stroke for years, which left him paralyzed. Although my father had disabilities physically, he was mentally sharp. No matter what condition he was in, he would always push through and exercise. After his passing, I pushed myself mentally and physically just as he would have, and I would do it not just for myself and to keep my body healthy, but for him. Being able to walk, run, lift, stretch, and ride is a privilege, and I saw that privilege taken away from someone I love dearly, so I decided not to take it for granted. Our coaches at UP encouraged my fiancé and I during the pandemic to focus on the things we can control, which were our nutrition and fitness. They got us through that interesting part of our lives, and we continue to use the knowledge we learned in our daily practice.

Every day, I make a decision to continue my lifestyle in a very healthy way. This includes mental, physical, emotional, and nutritional health, as well. My proud accomplishments are a series of small choices that I have made over time and the result is my healthiest self.

What has surprised you most about working in the spa industry?  

One of the most surprising aspects of the spa industry is the wide-range of services offered. While massages, facials, and body treatments are well-known, many spas now offer unique and specialized services, such as sound therapy, floatation tanks, cryotherapy, and even energy healing practices. The industry continually evolves to cater to different client needs and preferences. The spa industry is experiencing substantial growth globally, with emerging markets in Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America showing increasing interest in spa services. This worldwide expansion has brought various cultural influences and treatment techniques to the forefront. Technology has also made its way into the spa industry. Some spas incorporate advanced treatments like LED light therapy, virtual reality relaxation experiences, and even AI-driven personalization of treatments and product recommendations.

Where do you think the industry is heading?   

There are so many different approaches spas can take, however, where I see the main focus for spas and how they are likely to evolve is into more comprehensive holistic wellness centers that cater to all aspects of wellbeing, including physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. This could involve the integration of various wellness practices, such as mindfulness workshops, yoga classes, nutritional counseling, and life coaching alongside traditional spa services. As environmental consciousness grows, spas are likely to focus even more on eco-friendly practices. From using organic and sustainable products to adopting green building designs and energy-efficient technologies, spas will continue to emphasize their commitment to the planet.

What’s your favorite skincare ingredient?  

My favorite skincare ingredient would have to be vitamin C. There are many ingredients that are ever evolving, however, my skin responds very well to products with vitamin C.

What positions have you worked in that you feel have been most influential to your career?  

When I began in the spa industry, I began as a spa coordinator. I feel like that job was so essential to the success of my career as I am now able to relate to my team and their challenges. I feel each position I have had in my career was equally influential to my career as it lead me to the next position. Today, I am proud to work at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills as the director of wellness and excited to continue the growth of the wellness experience for our guests.

Was there a time you had to make a decision in your career that ended up changing your destiny? How did you handle that challenge and what was your thought process?  

My first management position was encouraged by my mentor whom helped me take the leap into management. I was graduating from California State University, Long Beach with my degree in business management and operations management and my mentor who was the spa director at the time took a job elsewhere and encouraged me to apply for the management position. I knew there were areas that I needed more exposure and training and with his guidance, encouragement, and mentorship, I took the leap and have not turned back since. I cannot say it was an easy journey; however, it was worth it for me. As I find myself in new positions within the industry, I feel so grateful that someone believed in me, and I try to do my best to encourage others to believe in themselves as well and provide that mentorship anytime.

If you could work in any other profession in the world, what would you be?  

If I was not in the spa and wellness field, I feel I would love to have been a veterinarian. I have so much love for animals and would want to help them any way I possibly could.  

How would you sum up your personal philosophy? 

I will always be evolving, and one thing that stays consistent are my core values, and my commitment to my Egyptian culture, which is who I am. I live my life trying to stay balanced and keep a sense of wellbeing. There is such a big importance of self-care, and a work-life balance, which results in emotional wellbeing for me. My relationships are very important and nourishing them the best way I can.

How do you like to spend your time away from work?  

Fitness is big in my household, as it is important to both me and my fiancé. We try encouraging one another to do something active together when we feel less motivated, which helps as usually one of us is motivated when the other needs it. We really love riding our bikes down to the beach from Culver City to Manhattan Beach and back, which is about 20 miles. My fiancé and I make this a weekend activity and stop at Uncle Bill’s Pancake House in Manhattan Beach for breakfast before heading home. I have two gym passes: one to LA Fitness where I train with my fiancé with weights and another to Equinox where I go for the classes and after clear my mind and be by myself. I love using the eucalyptus steam room after a great workout. I find it relaxing, especially when I am feeling stressed. I love spending time with my French bulldogs; they bring me so much joy! I enjoy going to the beach and just relaxing on the sand with no agenda but to enjoy the moment. I enjoy a spontaneous weekend getaway whenever possible.

What are your three greatest priorities in life?  

Health, family, and career.

What’s the best advice you’ve received? 

Find Balance: strive for a balance between work, personal life, and leisure activities. Avoid overloading yourself with commitments and give yourself time to relax and recharge.