For Cassandra Forrest, spa director of The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club, a job with Four Seasons was a no brainer. Her aunt, who worked in sales and marketing for Four Seasons in Asia, helped inspire her to pursue a career in hospitality. Here, we chat with Forrest about what her 13 plus years in the spa industry have been like in one of our two October Spa Talks.
How many years have you been involved in the spa and hospitality industry?
13 years and counting.
What was the path that led you into the spa industry?
My aunt worked in sales and marketing for Four Seasons in Asia, and I knew from a young age I wanted to be like her and work in hotels. It was my aunt who suggested the spa for me, because according to her, “I had the perfect personality and demeanor for the spa and an eye for detail.” The spa industry was growing at that point, and I had vacationed with my family at the new Four Seasons in Whistler, where I fell in love with the spa. I worked there the following summer and have been hooked on the spa life ever since. I studied hospitality management and completed my Bachelor of Commerce to be well rounded. Nevertheless, I knew spa was my passion. I love my job and enjoy the challenge each day brings.
What are the most challenging and rewarding parts of working in the spa industry? The guests. My job is to balance everything to make sure everyone is happy and leaves feeling satisfied. The best reward is to see all guests leaving and transformed by treatment or by growth and development. The relationships with guests that develop are very rewarding and sometimes they become lifelong friends.
What has surprised you most about the spa world?
I have spent most of my time working in Asia Pacific. Coming back to the Americas has been great. The world is small, so I still get to meet many spa friends. It really is all about the relationships you develop and create that can stay with you wherever you are working.
Where do you think the industry is heading?
Back to basics with treatments that are timeless and effective. While there are always new products and treatments emerging, customers are more aware and will not just try them without research. For that reason, I think spa menus should be carefully crafted with more substance or tradition behind them.
What is the strangest client request you’ve fielded?
I have had so many. One that stands out was a guest demanding a four-hand massage when he had pre-booked spa time with one therapist. It was during the holiday season in the Maldives, and I could not add another person to an island at a moment’s notice.
What is the most bizarre treatment you’ve experienced?
It may have to be a body scrub in the Maldives. The therapist used a lulur scrub to whiten the skin. The scrub was tingly and had a cooling effect. The air conditioning was on full blast, and the draping procedures were not up to the standards I was used to. My takeaway was that the standards that define a luxury spa related to guest comfort and convenience are very important to get right.
What new spa treatment would you like to try?
Cryotherapy is something I want to try and have not experienced yet. With so many benefits, I think it’s worth it to try.
What’s your go-to spa treatment?
I love to experience something local, usually a special body treatment or a massage style. I tried the seshin body scrub in Korea, the Healing Goddess Ritual in Bali, and saw a traditional Chinese doctor in China. Each experience was unique and allowed me to experience local culture.
What two things about you don’t we don’t know?
I am a Canadian who loves to travel and experience the local cultures and way of life. Before living in Miami, I was in Beijing and the Maldives. I love the ocean, and it calms me. I have my boating license and Padi Open Water Diver certification, but my most favorite way to enjoy the ocean is sitting on the beach reflecting out at the waves.
If you could work in any other profession in the world, what would it be?
It would be something in social media but still associated with travel and hospitality.
How would you sum up your personal philosophy?
“Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.” I have grown so much throughout life by letting go of what I was comfortable with and trying something less familiar. I am most grateful for the changes and challenges in my life. I am now very adaptable, and that has served me well in my career.
What’s the best advice you’ve received?