15 Questions with Chablé Spa's Carmelina Montelongo

Chablé Resort & Spa in Chocholá, Mexico // Photo courtesy of Chablé Resort & Spa

Meet Carmelina Montelongo, a 10-year veteran in the spa and hospitality industry, who once worked for the Nestle Company in Mexico and Switzerland. 

What was the path that led you into the spa industry?
Ever since I was a kid, I was keen on pampering people. I loved doing simple things to make people feel happier. I believe happiness is the key to health and wellbeing. Previously, while working at the Nestle Company, I felt I needed to have more contact with people, but real contact, the kind that can only be achieved through a soul connection. The more we give, the more connected and fulfilled we will feel. 

What are the most challenging and rewarding parts of working in the spa industry?
What’s most rewarding for me is being part of the transformation of people’s lives. For me, this is the true meaning of

transcendence, helping others to become who they are, to gain courage in life and get the most out of it. 

What is your proudest accomplishment?
It is the opening of The Spa at Chablé. I feel very proud to have brought it to life and infinitely grateful for Amy McDonald and Bonnie Baker, the creators of this beautiful spa and wellness project. 

What has surprised you most about working in the spa industry?
The spa industry has led me more and more towards the wellness industry, and it is here where I’ve learned that less is more. People nowadays are looking for more authentic experiences. They like simplicity and contact with nature. I love the fact that, at the very end, it all comes back to basics.  

What qualities do you look for in your spa staff?
Assuming they are certified and have all the technical certifications, I look for enthusiastic, happy, and balanced people. I truly admire people who do what they preach, because I believe this is the only way to inspire authentic experiences. Both maturity and flexibility are key factors in the decision to hire someone. 

Where do you think the industry is heading?
Back in the 1960s when wellness was developed, life expectancy was around 65 years, out of which 60 years were healthy years and five were sickness years. Today, life expectancy has risen, and it all now comes down to the type of life we have, whether it is active or passive. This has provoked a change in paradigm that is already revolutionizing the concept of wellness from a repair-oriented to a proactive strategy. Wellness is no longer the art of healing, it is now about the art of living, and above all, living naturally.  

I believe in wellness as an implosion process rather than an explosion one. The industry is growing at an impressive pace, and more disciplines have been integrated in the wellness industry. Still, this growth is rather implosive, meaning going inwards, listening to our inner voice and taking care of ourselves, increasing our awareness and connection, going back to where we were, reducing complexity, and delivering more me time. Wellness is not about spas where we go for a treatment or buy amazing beauty products. Wellness is where we don’t need anyone else to provide for us. Wellness is about being happy and grateful. It is about the simplest things in life as breathing, loving, hugging, dancing, singing, and even praying. It is about unlocking our hearts and being only humans. Wellness is about being authentic, it is about self-love and embracing life as a whole. It is about quality of life, joy, happiness, and the sense of meaning and purpose.  

What is the strangest client request you’ve fielded?
This question made me think of a client I had seven years ago. A famous and renowned lady, whose name I cannot reveal, was telling me step by step what I should do while I was performing the massage, and by step by step, I mean almost minute by minute. Suddenly, she felt like she was having a heart attack—which she wasn’t—but she pretty quickly wrapped herself in the massage sheet and ran to the bathroom. What happened is that she was allergic to rosemary and knew it. She didn’t tell me, but she did choose rosemary oil for her massage.  

What is the most bizarre treatment you’ve experienced?
While working on a spa project in Bacalar, Quintana Roo in Mexico, I came up with the idea of doing massage in small boats in the lagoon. So, I did try one massage on the boat. It was such a great and absolutely relaxing experience. 

What new spa treatment would you like to try?
I am always in search of places with indigenous treatments. More than actually trying a new spa treatment, going for indigenous treatments allows me to immerse myself in local culture and taste the sense of place. 

What’s your go-to spa treatment?
Thai massage happens to be one of my favorite treatments. I love the combination of acupressure and assisted yoga postures. It’s so therapeutic. 

What's your favorite skincare ingredient?
Arnica, for sure.

Which brands are your go-to favorites?
Naturopathica and Margaret Dabbs!

What two things don’t we know about you?
I’m a storyteller, and my favorite book is Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés. 

If you could work in any other profession in the world, what would you be?
I’d be a philosopher or a scientific researcher. 

How would you sum up your personal philosophy?
"Happiness is a drama-free day."

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