Get to know Deborah Smith, Principal of Smith Club & Spa Specialists, a full-service consulting firm that provides conceptual development, design, and operational expertise to existing and new-build spa properties across all segments of the spa indus
How many years have you been involved in the spa/hospitality industry?
Since 1981 - 29 years!
What was the path that led you into the spa industry?
Like many people, it has been a roundabout, follow-your-heart path to where I am today. In my youth I played a lot of sports and also enjoyed hiking and outdoorsy activities, but after graduating from college and earning an MBA I ended up on Madison Avenue as an advertising executive. It was after a couple of years in advertising, when I was assigned the "Moist 'n' Easy" cake mix account, that I realized I was in the wrong field! Not long thereafter, I happened to hear Deborah Szekely on a radio talk show; I contacted her and that led to my becoming her personal assistant. I immediately felt at home in this industry, and have a career that I love.
What is your favorite place in the whole world?
At the top of Midway Pass (11,500 feet) outside of Aspen, in July, sitting in the midst of colorful and fragrant wildflowers that grow 4 feet tall and surround me, with a small spring-fed stream bubbling by, and a 240 degree/100 mile view towards the horizon that encompasses the Sawatch, Elk and San Juan Ranges in southwestern Colorado. All other things, man-made, seem insignificant and without meaning, in comparison.
If you could have any profession in the world, other than what you do now, what would you be?
I would have liked to have been an explorer, perhaps a botanist or zoologist, on the Lewis & Clark expedition in the 19th century. I like exploring uncharted territory and one of my favorite past-times is bushwacking and route-finding in the Colorado high country.
What is your motto or concept that you live by?
"See the beauty, feel the grace". We first see beauty in our surroundings; let us sensorially also feel the grace and truth that what we see is real and worthy of immersing ourselves in. to know that this moment of sensing and feeling is all that matters.
What is your most treasured possession?
An ornate and beautiful 19th century Chinese wooden writing desk with hidden compartments that was bequeathed to me by my great-grandmother who shipped it back to the States in 1880.
What’s your go-to spa treatment?
I am very taken with the Australian Li'tya Mala Mayi Body Rejuvenation treatment that combines a body polish with a special massage technique. It's not offered at many locations, so in place of this, I am very content with a full body massage given by an intuitive and experienced massage therapist.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
After 17 years in operations, being able to found and prosper in my own spa consulting practice these past 10 years.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
To use a different kind of "knowing"; to not think so much and let my heart inform me of what is right.
Care to share any details on family life; i.e. spouse, partner, children, pets?
George, my significant other and business partner, and two precious and beautiful brother cats, Tiger and Beau, acquired a year ago from the Aspen Animal Shelter.
Tell us two things about yourself we don’t know.
I truly feel most creative when engaged in the writing process, which is an art form to me. A secret ambition is to take some creative writing courses and try my hand at writing fiction. Also, I love to garden, particularly pulling weeds and preparing the soil for the planting of annuals and the re-appearance of beloved perennials, which is normally considered to be the most toilsome, unrewarding task in gardening, but from which I derive great satisfaction.