Q & A with spa industry thought leader Jeremy McCarthy

Jeremy McCarthy, Starwood VP and academic, brings his unique thoughtfulness to the spa industry.

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

Over twenty years.

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

I started out with a passion for fitness.  I was a personal trainer and a competitive triathlete.  My college job was as a lifeguard at a swimming pool at a luxury resort in Southern California.  I became the pool supervisor and eventually the activities director and then the property added a small spa, which became my first.  I was excited because there was a small fitness center, but I had no idea what I was getting into with the rest of it.

What is your favorite place in the whole world?

I lived in Maui, Hawaii (twice) for several years and I thought it was paradise.  Career moves took me away, but some day, I'd like to retire there.  I love the beach so anywhere with nice weather, good waves and good people and I"m pretty happy.

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

A university professor.  I have been studying psychology and I love to stay connected to the academic side.  I am passionate about learning and love to discuss the latest research with others who share my interests.  I recently started my own blog (www.psychologyofwellbeing.com) which forces me to keep reading, stay abreast of the latest research in psychology, and write regularly.

What is your motto or concept that you live by?

Play hard.  Work hard. Love people.  Most of the good things in my life come from those three areas.

What is your most treasured possession?

I hate to say this since it sounds so "un-spa" but it is probably my Blackberry.  I not only use it to stay connected but I do a lot of reading on it including blogs (like this one!), twitter and the New York Times.

What’s your go-to spa treatment?

A good shiatsu massage is pretty tough to beat (but pretty hard to find).

What is your proudest accomplishment?

There used to be a lot of ways I could answer this question: career milestones, friends and relationships, quality of life.  But since my son was born everything else seems to pale by comparison.

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

The things I can change, I do.  The things I can't, I try not to worry about.

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

I'm madly in love with my son Dylan (10 weeks old) and his mother Catherine.  After being a bachelor for 40 years, it is quite an adjustment, but I am loving every minute of it.

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

Most people don't know that I was formerly an avid martial artist and hold two black belts in Hapkido and Tang Soo Do.  I studied a broad variety of martial arts including Karate, Kung Fu, Aikido, Thai Kickboxing and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  Then one day I decided I was spending too much of my life rolling around on a mat with other sweaty guys.  I walked away and have never looked back.  I'm still a fan (as a spectator) of ultimate fighting, but it's hard to find people to watch fights with from within the spa circles I run in!

Today, my passions are surfing and beach volleyball, which I enjoy on Long Island for the half the year the weather is decent on the East Coast.