Q & A with Ledia Camara, Spa Director of Hotel Matilda

Ledia Camara, Credit: Eduardo Ramirez/Enfoco PhotostudioMeet Ledia Camara, Spa Director, Hotel Matilda

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

I’ve spent 14 years in the hotel industry of which eight years have been in spas.

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

Throughout my life, I was torn between two careers: medicine and hospitality. When I was working at the JW Marriott hotel, I took an introductory spa course and visited the spa—it was like opening my eyes for the first time in my life. I made the decision to become a massage therapist, which was the perfect link between my two loves of medicine and hospitality, and since then I have worked only in spas.

What qualities do you look for in your spa staff?

The masseurs should not see working at the spa as just a job to make money. They should love their work, and must feel it is their calling to be a healer. The profile for my receptionists is a combination of excellent communicator and selling skills with a high sense of responsibility and strong service attitude. Their most important asset, however, is the ability to make guests feel welcome. I like to have at least one who has the potential to become a supervisor or future manager. Attendants should have a constant beautiful smile and excellent service attitude, as well as be curious and eager to learn. I like to discover someone with healing potential and watch how he or she develops that potential with our support.

What about your new position excites you most?

The Apothecary at Spa Matilda, which offers hand-blended treatment products made from locally, procured artisanal ingredients. For years I have studied the healing powers of plants and aromatherapy, and now at Spa Matilda I am able to create 100 percent natural products that are completely personalized for each customer.

Where do you think the industry is heading?

To natural health, with a focus on alternative medicine without losing side relaxation.

What is your go-to spa treatment?

We have a new service at Spa Matilda called Royal Hammam ($150, 1 hour 45 minutes) that gives guests everything they want in a single treatment. It’s a treatment worthy of kings. While guests are enjoying our hammam, our Turkish-style steam bath, a therapist exfoliates the body from head to toe with a traditional kessa glove and black soap. Afterwards, skin is nourished and smoothed by the application of rhassoul clay and then, to crown the experience, guests receive a massage with argan oil.

What is the strangest client request you've fielded?

I remember a man who had never had a massage and wanted to try it for the first time but did not want anything applied to his skin because he could not stand the feeling. No oil, no cream, nothing could be used for the massage. He also asked to be touched as little as possible. This was a real challenge. I determined that a Thai massage might work best, explained it to him, and he said okay. In the end, he really enjoyed the experience and was very happy and grateful for his first massage experience.

If you could work in any other profession in the world, what would you be?

I would be an entrepreneur because I would love to have my own organic cosmetic brand.

How would you sum up your personal philosophy?

No one is indispensable, be someone irreplaceable.

What's the best advice you've received?

The best advice I ever got my dad gave to me: No matter what you decide to do in life, do it right and always give the best of yourself.—Compiled by Jessica Morrobel