Q & A with Vivian Villamizar, spa director at Renew the Spa at The James Royal Palm (Miami)

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

I have been in the hospitality industry for 15 years, and nine of those years have been devoted entirely to the spa industry. Most recently, I was at Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa in Miami Beach for four years before coming to Renew the Spa at The James Royal Palm.

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

Since the early growth days in our industry, we have had to survive numerous challenges, and those challenges continue today. Individual spa growth and market share have both been threatened by the growing number of spas and for the industry as a whole. The hospitality industry has never been more challenging and exciting than it is today. Our industry is highly competitive, and to prosper, we need to ensure that our operation is the best in its class, and that is exactly how we get to the rewarding part—meeting amazing individuals along the way and knowing that you have made a difference in their lives. 

What qualities do you look for in your spa staff?

Our staff members are handpicked because of their excellence. Our core values and company culture is based on love, trust, respect, and discipline. Consequently, we strive to hire individuals who are passionate about what they do while making sure their vision is in line with our vision of providing operative excellence and optimal spa experiences.

Where do you think the industry is heading?

I continue to see growth in the industry—consumers no longer view spa treatments as a simple pampering experience. In today’s fast-paced environment with increasingly hectic schedules, a lack of true leisure time and the pressures of being in constant contact with the office, family, friends, and via email are the kinds of pressures that not only increase stress but also contribute to unhealthy behaviors. I believe that people will continue to seek ways in which to reduce stress, and most of them will continue heading to spas to do that.

What is the most bizarre treatment you’ve experienced?

The Manaka Tapping Treatment. It is similar to acupuncture, but without the needles. During the treatment, a wooden hammer called a manaka is employed to gently tap wooden pegs placed along the body’s acupressure points. The tapping, done rhythmically to the beat of a metronome, is said to provide the same benefits as acupuncture: balance energy and relief from both general stress and specific bodily pains. 

What’s your go-to spa treatment?

I love treatments that have more than one modality or sequence within the service, like our Jet Set treatment (90 minutes). Within this treatment, there is a stimulating lymphatic body brushing, a warm cocoon body wrap, and a full-body massage with frankincense, grapefruit, lemon, and myrrh. It doesn't get much better than that.

What’s your favorite skincare ingredient?

My favorite skincare ingredient is vitamin C because it is a great antioxidant that slows the rate of free-radical damage, and free radicals are unstable molecules that damage collagen and cause skin dryness, fine lines, and wrinkles. Vitamin C plays a big role in my skincare regimen, as I live in sunny Florida. Research suggests that vitamin C also reduces sunburn caused by exposure to ultraviolet B radiation and prevents the consequences of long-term sun exposure, which can lead to skin cancer.

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

Although I have no plans to leave the spa industry anytime soon, if I were to envision myself doing something different, a few things come to mind. I think I would enjoy being a social worker, an elementary teacher, or a professional makeup artist.

How would you sum up your personal philosophy?

My passion is to assist in creating memorable experiences with heartfelt intentions. I nurture our associates and respect our core values, which perpetuate a culture of respect, professional behavior, and passion for everything I do.