Q & A with Hannelore Leavy, spa industry icon

Hannelore Leavy, one of the founders of the American spa industry, shares some of her history.


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

40 years.

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

I was born and raised in Vienna, Austria, where spas are a way of life.  When moving to the United States, I started to promote health vacations to European spas in my capacity as Marketing Director of the Austrian National Tourist Office in NYC.  My 20+ years of experience in the promotion of travel and tourism made me a natural candidate to become 'Jeffrey Joseph's Spa Finders' Vice President of Sales and Marketing, and the Associate Publisher of THE SPA FINDER in 1986.  I was the innovator of many of Spa Finder's projects, including the acceptance of advertising in the Spa Finder catalogue and the organization of the first Spa Symposium in 1990, from which ISPA emerged.

What is your favorite place in the whole world?

The Austrian/Italian Alps.

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

A tour guide.

What is your motto or concept that you live by?

Treat people as you would like to be treated; be honest and always, always, keep your word, no matter the price.  That way you can sleep at night!

What is your most treasured possession?

My health and my sons!

What’s your go-to spa treatment?

Anything that pampers me . . .

What is your proudest accomplishment?

Being the creator and innovator of many "firsts" in various professions.

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

I wish I could be more forceful, and less "understanding," as that can create the appearance of weakness and increase the chances of being taken advantage of.

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

I miss my late husband Jim a great deal; he stood beside me in all of my projects and supported many of the programs I created for the spa industry.  I recently got myself a "Rotti," she was a stray and spent more than 3 months in a shelter.  Having a shelter animal is very rewarding to me.

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

Psst . . . I recently had a facelift, and I love the way I look now.  I still take naps when I am not traveling!

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