Q & A with Denise Vitiello, Spa Director at Mandarin Oriental, NYC





Get to know Denise Vitiello, the acclaimed Spa Director at the Mandarin Oriental in New York.

How many years have you been involved in the spa/hospitality industry?
Since 1993.

What was the path that led you into the spa industry?
I was a college student at Arizona State University and working at the Arizona Biltmore when Tammy Pahel approached me while I was bartending there.  She said she liked what she saw and thought that I had great potential in the spa industry.  She then asked me to assist her with the opening of the spa, and to work for her.  As I was paying my way through college I would have been a fool to turn down a little extra cash, so I did help her and fell in love with the industry.  I have since then opened 5 spas around the country and have worked at the Mandarin Oriental New York for the last 7 years.

What is your favorite place in the whole world?
Disneyland - I am a true kid at heart.

If you could have any profession in the world, other than what you do now, what would you be?
I would be a chef.  I absolutely LOVE cooking all types of cuisine, and to me it is both an art and a pleasure to watch people enjoy the love in a person's cooking.

What is your motto or concept that you live by?
Work hard, play hard.  And, as my father has always told me, be honest even when it hurts, be kind to people, and do the best job that you can; then you can't go wrong and you will sleep well at night.

What is your most treasured possession?
My two beautiful children; daughter Kendall, 4 years old, and son Jake, almost 2 years old.

What’s your go-to spa treatment?
The Clearing Factor, which is like having someone empty out your garbage can of emotions and physical stress from your body.  It is absolutely amazing.

What is your proudest accomplishment?
That I am able to balance my career with two small children and a husband.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I would try to have more patience.  I tend to get the New Yorker in my worked up at times.  :-)

Care to share any details on family life; i.e. spouse, partner, children, pets?
I have a wonderful husband who is a US Marine and works for the New York City Fire Department.  I already mentioned my two munchkins, and I have a Weimereiner named Bailey.  I really enjoy spending time with dear friends, and love a great glass of fine wine every now and then.  The spa part of my life enjoys yoga and running.

Tell us two things about yourself we don’t know.
One of my nicknames is "teeth" because I am known to always have a smile on my face; and my friends make fun of me because I love 80's music.

Suggested Articles

Luong Dieu Huong is a spa manager at two spas in Lang Co, Thailand.

American Spa publisher and editor-in-chief, Julie Keller Callaghan, talks to Sarah Jones, editor of Spa & Wellness Mexicaribe, on the SpaCast podcast.

In honor of National Aesthetician Day, we asked some of our favorite esties what they love most about their jobs.