Q & A with Brenda Martin, spa director at The Spa at The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe (CA)

Brenda Martin

Brenda MartinHow many years have you been involved in the spa/hospitality industry?

I’ve been in the spa and hospitality industries since 1998.

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

It’s the spa industry is the paradox of balancing art and commerce. When you are creating impactful work, you want to share it with the world. The best way to do that is through commerce, which can sometimes result in a diluted or compromised product. It’s hard to see that happen in the spa industry when the goal is to help people. The most rewarding part of working in a spa is seeing how one treatment or one relaxing day without access to televisions and cell phones can completely change a person’s perspective on their own health and wellbeing. It’s really great to have a part in doing that for anyone.

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

I’m most surprised by the number of people who do not consider spa treatments to be a part of a preventative treatment plan for their health and wellbeing.

What qualities do you look for in your spa staff?

I look for people who are passionate about helping our guests. Everything else can be taught.

Where do you think the industry is heading?

We’ve become a society of people that use “virtual” as a standard. Why get together with a group of friends when you can group message everyone from your couch? So, I believe as our desire for human touch and connection grows, so will the industry. I’m hoping to see a full-on spa revival!

What is the strangest client request you’ve fielded?

The strangest requests I’ve ever received usually have to do with guests seeking medical advice usually from estheticians. They want a mole or strange growth checked out.

What is the most bizarre treatment you’ve experienced?

Nothing is too bizarre for my taste—I love to try new methods, modalities, and products. I can’t say I’ve had a treatment yet that I would consider bizarre.

What new spa treatment would you like to try?

I’m really interested in trying a raindrop therapy treatment. We are adding it to our upcoming fall seasonal treatment menu, and I’m excited to experience it firsthand.

What’s your go-to spa treatment?

My go-to spa treatment is always a deep-tissue massage.

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

The only thing I love more than the smell when you walk into a spa, is the smell of old books in a library. I would definitely be a librarian. 

How would you sum up your personal philosophy?

My personal philosophy is the golden rule: Treat people the way you would like to be treated.