Spend some time with the creative and energetic Bruce Schoenberg!
How many years have you been involved in the spa/hospitality industry?
I've been in the spa industry since 1998, but the event and trade show industry since 1977.
What was the path that led you into the spa industry?
While in Chicago producing a consumer show event (1996) I met my future wife Marti. Little did I know at the time I would fall in love with her, but when I did and mentioned her moving to New York the discussion of my traveling came up. The event industry requires a substantial amount of time on the road, and Marti did not see that being good for the start of a new marriage. So I decided to see what else was out there for me to do with my skill sets which were in operations and marketing.
Marti was a massage therapist and suggested I look at the spa industry which really had not yet emerged as the social force it is today. I was obviously very dubious having only been to a couple of destination spas while on vacation, and not having a comfort level with the business. After several months of research and running focus groups we felt that the spa industry was becoming more and more a part of the emerging social lifestyle. Bliss was just starting to make a name for themselves when we opened our first location in Union Square in Manhattan.
The original Oasis was only seven rooms and very boutique, very quaint, but within a year was named "Best New Spa" in New York City by New York Magazine. The rest you could say is the history of our growth which included a spa at the JetBlue terminal at JFK, and 2 more Manhattan locations. We opened our Westchester location during the economic downturn in November 2008 (no we didn't plan it that way!) but it has become a big success, also being named "Best Spa of Westchester" by Westchester Magazine in 2009 and 2010.
What is your favorite place in the whole world?
On Sagg-Main beach in Southampton with my family. This is where we go to get away from all of the stress, and watch the sun rise and set. I cannot think of a more beautiful place for our children to have their childhood memories.
If you could have any profession in the world, other than what you do now, what would you be?
I was a very competitive athlete as a young man, playing both baseball and football in college. I always dreamed of being a professional baseball player, and have been fortunate to attend World Series clinching games. Seeing the players celebrate after accomplishing such a feat, I related even though the championships I won were at an amateur level. The teamwork aspect of sports is something I try to inspire in our staff everyday. I think it would be a great challenge to be the General Manager of the Yankees or Mets, although the Knicks need me more!
What is your motto or concept that you live by?
"Do unto others as they would do unto you." I have always had a very strong moral compass from the upbringing I have had with my parents. I always try and do the right thing; sometimes it will disappoint some people. I have learned to live with that.
What is your most treasured possession?
My wife Marti and my children Harry & Stella, not even close.
What’s your go-to spa treatment?
Muscle Meltdown Massage gets the lower back issues straightened out; of course that's me. I was blessed with good skin although I have a touch of Rosacea.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
Having built a business with my wife Marti that we have both made significant contributions to. A husband-wife team can be a challenge (it's hard enough dealing with raising a family), but throw in business decisions and you can watch many relationships dissolve. We have set up some pretty strong firewalls between our roles, and we have been a great team.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I have a tendency to be overly detail-oriented, and work myself up over things that I should let go. I have become a lot better with delegating but need to take more time for myself and enjoy all that life has to offer.
Care to share any details on family life; i.e. spouse, partner, children, pets?
We live in Hastings on Hudson in Westchester, and have a great dog 'Sugar', a lab mix, and a cat 'Ruby' who basically runs the house. We spend as much time as we can at our cottage in Southampton.
Tell us two things about yourself we don’t know.
I have had 5 knee surgeries and will need a replacement soon. I was a club promoter throwing private parties at Studio 54, Xenon, The Underground, and LeJardins in the late 70's through early 80's.