Meet Virginia Acosta, spa director of The Joule Hotel (Dallas).
What path led you into the spa industry?
It was pure coincidence actually. When I moved to the U.S., I didn’t have a work permit, so I begged a family friend, who was the general manager of a Tennis & Athletic Club, to let me be her intern so I could stay busy. I helped with inventories at the pro-shop. As soon as I got my work, I was already in love with the entire operational side of the business, including managing the treatment rooms. Then, I moved on to the position of assistant to the athletic director. When I was able to really take on responsibility, I never looked into any other field. I truly fell in love with the spa industry.
What positions have you worked in that you feel have been most influential to your career?
The truth is that I have worked in different environments that have helped me grow into the person I am today. Those environments ranged from fitness facilities, where I first found a love for the industry, to hotels and even privately owned spas. I have taken pieces of each of these places and teams with me, and they have all had large influences on my life and career.
What are the most challenging and rewarding parts of working in the spa industry?
The most challenging aspect is mastering the swan in the pond. From the surface it looks like the swan is gliding through the pond ever so smoothly, but in reality, its feet are paddling as fast as they can to get to the other side. We can go from one end to the other dealing with what could be a very chaotic situation; however, we make sure our guests never notice. In many ways it is rewarding to see your employees grow into their careers. For instance, front desk coordinators have grown into managers, and therapists have expanded their skills and become extremely successful. It’s also rewarding realizing that most new business is the result of word-of-mouth from guests who leave the spa after their services and share their experiences. Of course, I won’t lie; it’s always a treat being the guinea pig, too, for any and all of our treatments.
What qualities do you look for in your spa staff?
I look for passion, flexibility, and eagerness to expand their knowledge and stay in tune with our practices. This is not just something we do—it’s who we are. As author Simon Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
Where do you think the industry is heading?
Hopefully, it will get to a point that going to a spa is not looked as a luxury but as a lifestyle. We live in a very busy world, and many times we overlook time for ourselves.
What is the most bizarre treatment you’ve experienced?
I’m not sure it would count as bizarre, but moreso a great treatment gone wrong. The first time I had a Shirodhara could be considered one of those times. If you don’t know what Shirodhara is, it is a form of Ayurveda therapy that involves ‘gently’ pouring oil over the forehead or the third eye. My experience was a total nightmare—the oil ended up all over my face during the pouring, not to mention the wrong oil was used, and it didn’t come out of my hair, eyelashes, or my brows—disturbing on so many levels!
What’s your go-to spa treatment?
Facials are my go-to treatment. They not only relax me, but I can see and feel the difference in my skin immediately.
What’s your favorite skincare ingredient?
I know it may not sound glamorous, but turmeric root extract is my favorite. I’ve found it helps brighten and even my skintone. I don’t know what I’d do without it now.
Tell us two things about yourself we don’t know.
I was born in Madrid, Spain, and grew up in Venezuela and have a law and business degree there.
What’s the best advice you’ve received?
Well, I learned this one the hard way: proper planning prevents poor performance. I used to be a great procrastinator. Today, I can tell you this is definitely my motto.—Compiled by Jessica Morrobel