Vivianne Garcia-Tunon has been in the spa and hospitality industry for 25 years, and has held a number of prestigious roles throughout those years. She got her start in the industry when she moved to Miami from Puerto Rico to open The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Miami, and during her time as the group’s spa director, helped to open several new luxury spas in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. She also held roles at ESPA International as senior vice president, and worked with luxury hospitality brands, such as THE WELL, The Peninsula Hotels, One&Only Resorts, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, and GHM Luxury Hotels & Resorts. She most recently was named global vice president of wellbeing at Auberge Resorts Collection. In this role, she will develop and deepen the experience across Auberge Resorts Collection’s portfolio. Learn more about Garcia-Tunon, her path to where she is today, and her thoughts on the future of spa and wellness.
What are the most challenging and rewarding parts of being in the spa industry?
The most rewarding part of the industry is getting to help people, including guests and team members. I’ve had many magical moments helping women who are dealing with a chronic disease, divorce, loss, or the difficulty of navigating through modern life and, in tandem, working with incredible practitioners and providing a platform for them to offer their unique type of healing—or helping people that are just starting their spa career with aspirations for more. I’ve worked with spa attendants who are now directors at prestigious spas, and spa directors who are now hotel general managers. I want to give it all away and see my knowledge multiply. The biggest challenge our industry faces is talent. After the pandemic, many left the industry and have not returned. We have a global shortage of leaders and therapists at rates that have yet to be seen.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
My proudest career accomplishment is being an integral part of the team responsible for conceptualizing THE WELL brand and its eventual expansion with the Auberge Resorts Collection. I look back in amazement at what we achieved from what it was to its current position in the market.
What has surprised you most about working in the spa industry?
What has surprised me the most is its rapid expansion through all facets of life. Everyone now wants to be part of the wellness space, including car companies, airlines, restaurants, and fashion.
Where do you think the industry is heading?
I hope our industry moves toward honesty, education, prevention, and transparency. There is a lot of white noise and confusion to the point that we have managed to stress humans with conflicting wellness messages. As an industry, we must embrace data and thoroughly vet every expert to be a united and trusted source.
What positions have you worked in that you feel have been most influential to your career?
The position that has been most influential has been as a therapist. My time in the treatment room working one on one with guests provided me with an essential three-dimensional view of spa and wellness. This skill has propelled my career to levels I never thought possible.
How would you sum up your personal philosophy?
Life is very short. Romanticize and enjoy your life at every moment. View your morning routine as an opportunity for self-care, eat for pleasure and contentment, move your body in a nourishing way, make space for a good belly-expanding laugh, take deep breaths, celebrate everything, place your hands on your heart, make exciting plans with loved ones, dare to be emotionally vulnerable, and allow yourself to be free—life is happening now!
Was there a time you had to make a decision in your career that ended up changing your destiny?
When I graduated college as a registered dietician, I had the opportunity to start working at a hospital as a nutritionist. Still, I knew in the early days, that a hospital setting would not align with my personal wellness beliefs. At that time, patients were prescribed highly processed diets that included margarine and artificial sugars. I am glad I decided to stay in hospitality and follow my passion for wellness, guest service, and a holistic approach. I can now see how the wellness industry is starting to reshape the medical establishment, so it feels full circle for me.
If you could work in any other profession in the world, what would it be?
If I could work in any other industry, it would be fashion, as I always tend to be gala-ready. I have an incredible passion for beautiful and feminine clothing. I enjoy looking at my closet every morning and selecting what to wear depending on my mood, and finishing the look with a pair of heels.
What's the best advice you've received?
There are two key lessons from my mentors: 1. In life, many will want you, but few will deserve you. Learn to know the difference and act accordingly. 2. Women need to prioritize their happiness. Your happiness has a direct effect on your partner and your children; don’t leave yourself for last, and never be afraid to ask for what you want.