Q & A with Melany Martinez Thomas, spa director at Aman Spa at the Aman Sveti Stefan (Montenegro)

Melany MartinezHow long have you been involved in the spa and hospitality industry?

Since I was 21 years old, a good 12 years ago. Time flies when you are having fun.

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

I lost my grandfather when I was 14, and that loss and the manifestation of the feelings in my body led me to start thinking about the connection between body, mind, and energy. While looking through his library, I found a book on reiki and a book on yoga. That was the beginning of the end of my vision to become a veterinary doctor.

What are the most challenging and rewarding parts of working in the spa industry?

The most challenging is reconciling the holistic and healing nature of what a spa should represent or deliver with the demands of luxury service. To remain focused and faithful to the vision of helping people rebalance and reconnect with themselves and nature, and to develop and empower the spa team of therapists and supporting staff in a way that the services provided reflect this vision. And all of this needs to be accomplished while providing a level of hospitality service that exceeds expectations. The most rewarding part is to see these two aspects come together through the delivery of the service. Then, a simple massage becomes a healing experience, and the results are tangible.

What is your proudest accomplishment?

Every resort opening makes me very proud. To accomplish so much in so little time is always very rewarding.

What has surprised you most about working in the spa industry?

The incredible variety of talent you find—from therapists to products. There is so much quality in the industry, but there is also a lot of empty marketing of which to be aware. 

Where do you think the industry is heading?

I hope into a more natural and back-to-basics approach rather than exotic and not-so-therapeutic offerings.

What is the most bizarre treatment you’ve experienced? 

I avoid exotic treatments that do not resonate with me in terms of their therapeutic value. 

What new spa treatment would you like to try?  

I would like to try more Tibetan healing treatments. 

What’s your go-to spa treatment?

Any structural work works well for me—deep tissue, rolfing, craniosacral therapy, or watsu. 

Which brands are your favorites?

Sodashi and the Aman Spa line.

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

One, I love the challenge of adapting quickly to new cultures and working environments, and two, I can go to the beach all day and not touch the ocean, if the water isn’t warm enough.

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

I would like to be a helicopter pilot. 

What’s the best advice you’ve received?

From my father: Try to be smarter than the situation. This is not general advice that applies to everyone, but me being more emotional, my dad knew what he was talking about.