Q & A with Ella Stimpson, Spa Director at Encore at Wynn

Meet dynamo Ella Stimpson, Spa Director at Encore at Wynn in Las Vegas and member of the ISPA Board of Directors, whose unconventional background has prepared her well for the spa industry!

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

I began my association with The Spa at the Broadmoor in 2000 as a front-line fitness instructor and personal trainer.

What was the path that led you into the spa industry?

Well, it's been a long journey!  I began my professional career out of college as an Officer in Military Intelligence in the US Army, after going to Officer Candidate School instead of law school.  I wanted to see the world and jump right into a lot of responsibility right out of college, and the US Army seemed the best route.  And I got what I wanted!  Assignments in Korea, Italy and Arizona kept me very busy with multiple responsibilities that "grew me up" as a leader very quickly.

After the birth of my daughter, I got out of the Army while my husband remained on active duty.  I then went to school to become an elementary school teacher and settled into teaching 4th, 6th & 7th grade in Arizona.  When the Army shipped our family to Germany I was unable to teach, so I got a master's degree in administration, curriculum and development and at the same time found a new passion in the gym, working out with resistance.  I also obtained my personal training and group fitness instructor certifications through the American Council on Exercise and starting working as a trainer and instructor part-time in Germany.

When we returned to the states and were assigned to the DC area, I was able to find full-time work as a trainer at a high-end club in Arlington, and stayed there for 3 years.  When our final assignment took us to Colorado Springs, I applied at the Broadmoor solely because some of my clients from Arlington had stayed there.  I didn't even know the meaning of 5 Star, Mobil, Forbes or anything about the hospitality world, including the newly maturing world of resort hotel spas.  But at the Broadmoor I fell in love with the industry.  After six months as a trainer I moved to Guest Relations Manager, and 1 1/2 years later became the Spa Director.

All the paths and journeys of my life had led me to spa and I finally found all of my passions melded into one industry; leading, teaching, analyzing and responding to trends, business operations, and of course, wellness.

What is your favorite place in the whole world?

On top of a mountain that is next to a warm beach.

If you could have any profession in the world, other than what you do now, what would you be?

I love facilitating leadership training.  To be involved in the journey with managers who stop managing and start leading is such an honor.

What is your motto or concept that you live by?

I feel like I was put on this planet to help others realize their fullest potential as human beings, and through helping others in that journey, become fully actualized myself.

What is your most treasured possession?

The wedding ring from my husband of 25 years.  It's not the ring, it's the relationship that it represents.

What’s your go-to spa treatment?

I'm old fashioned; 90-minute Deep Tissue Massage.

What is your proudest accomplishment?

Making it through Officer Candidate School in 1983 when the washout rate for women was extremely high.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I embrace everything that I am and all that I've been through because it makes me the person that I am today.  I am not perfect, nor would I want to be.  Life is a journey that is often a struggle, and my place in it is to help others find their best path.  It helps when you've made lots of mistakes, because that is the best way to learn.

Care to share any details on family life; i.e. spouse, partner, children, pets?

I have a husband of 25 years, Ron, who transitioned out of the US Army after 20 years and started his own business manufacturing and selling home theater equipment.  My daughter, Abby, is 21 and just finishing up college at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles; my son Vincent is 20 and will be starting his junior year at Columbia College in Chicago.

Tell us two things about yourself we don’t know.

I grew up in the South as a Baptist preacher's daughter and got used to being in the limelight from the time I was born.  Also, I am a musician who plays the piano and flute and wish there were more hours in the day to pursue these much-neglected pastimes.