Spa Talk with Annet King

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

27 years


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

My first job was working in my friend’s mother’s tiny beauty salon in Devon, U.K, where I helped out by making tea, polishing nails, and combing out shampoo and sets. I was just 13 years old. I found my bliss very early on in life.


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

Challenging is still probably people’s perception of what it’s all about together with finding great staff. Rewarding, mentoring a team, and being a role model to students and seeing them fall in love with in the industry, gain success and blossom.


What is your proudest accomplishment?

Opening the first European style spa in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam back in the mid-90s. I hired and trained all the staff on hospitality, the full treatment menu, product, and retail. They had no basic training at all and hardly spoke any English, but we did it. We got the spa built and opened together and quickly gained a good client base. Most importantly, these incredible women gained an honorable career, where they could earn good money and tips to support themselves and their families.


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

How there is still such a great need for education on the business, retail, and profitability side. Retail and maximizing productivity is still an area for many spas to improve.


What qualities do you look for in your spa staff?

I’m no longer a spa director, so I tend to hire trainers and education content developers now, but back then it was most important to hire attitude and it still is. You can train everything else.


Where do you think the industry is heading?

The power is in the hands of the consumer and spa-goer as massage has gone mainstream and everyone knows the benefits of using a cleanser and SPF. There is a greater focus on providing true visible results and a transforming experience for the client. There is less focus on what I call ‘fluff and pampering menus’ and more of a focus on authenticity and true health benefits.


What is the strangest client request you’ve fielded?

Remove every hair from by body, literally it was a full body wax except for hair on the head and brows.  


What is the most bizarre treatment you’ve experienced?

The most bizarre treatment I’ve experienced was a fish pedicure in Malaysia.


What new spa treatment would you like to try? 

I would like to try Cryotherapy to see if it’s as great as everyone says.


What’s your go-to spa treatment?

My go-to spa treatment is a 90-minute deep tissue massage.


What’s your favorite skincare ingredient?

My favorite skincare ingredient is hyaluronic acid because every skin benefits.


Which brands are your go-to favorites?

My go-to favorites are Elemis for skin and body, Davinus for hair, Laura Mercier and Urban Decay for makeup, and Jo Malone for perfume.


What positions have you worked in that you feel have been most influential to your career?

Spa director for Steiner Maritime was like doing a spa business MBA because you truly learn hands on staff management and morale, marketing, and retail. Also, director of global education for IDI and Dermalogica was very rewarding because it allowed me to be creative, mentor an amazing team of global educators, and gain recognition and respect for the brand’s education.


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

Puppy daycare because tumbling with puppies sounds good.


How would you sum up your personal philosophy?

Take your work very seriously, but not yourself.  


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

In the past year I learned to not say yes to every request. I’m still working on that one but getting better.


How do you like to spend your time away from work?

Traveling to exotic locations to explore the art and culture with my husband or going off the grid to our cabin in New Hampshire at the lake. No heels, no makeup, and sometimes no cell service works for me.


What are your three greatest priorities in life?

My greatest priorities in life are my health, my family, and my work.


What’s the best advice you’ve received?

Learn when you just need to show up and when you need to hit the ball out of the park. Conserve energy.


What about your new position excites you most?

Playing a part in the success and growth of Elemis in the U.S market. This brand is very close to my heart and many of us as skin therapists first fell in love with it in the UK and then on the cruise ships. For me personally I also had the opportunity to grow the brand in Asia, and I’ve seen what it can do to clients’ skin and how the therapies make them feel. Its transformative, it’s a lifestyle. I’ve come full circle and it feels so good to be back.