Spa Talk with April Smith, Spa Director of Salamander Spa at The Henderson

Photo by Salamander Spa(The Salamander Spa)

How many years have you been involved in the spa and hospitality industry? More than 20 years – I’ll leave it at that!  

What was the path that led you into the spa industry? I got my start as a nail technician to support myself during college. Once I started my MBA, I began managing a day spa in Oklahoma City. Upon graduation, I knew I would never be able to work in a different industry, I was hooked.

What are the most challenging and rewarding parts of working in the spa industry? I must say, working with the variety of different personalities needed to run a successful operation is the most challenging and rewarding. Finding the right individual that fits in with your vision, developing them, and watching their passion succeed further confirms mine.

What has surprised you most about the spa world? Normally in competing businesses, people can be cutthroat, but in this industry, I can confidently say that everyone has your best interests at heart and truly cares about you. I have found some of my best friendships with people whom I work, my vendors, and even competitors.  

Where do you think the industry is heading? Wellness is everywhere! I believe the best practioners are finding a way to make spa and wellness more affordable, so guests of all walks of life can enjoy the full benefits of the industry.  

What is the strangest client request you’ve fielded? I once had a guest come in for a hair appointment, who, granted, sounded a little mischievous over the phone. When checking on her and the stylist midway through her appointment, I was blown away to discover my stylist was blow-drying our guest’s dog’s hair!

What is the most bizarre treatment you’ve experienced? While facilitating the training and protocol at a previous spa, we realized a consultant included an experience that would never be feasible. In short, the treatment required we dig a hole in the sand on the beach, bury the guest, have them get up for a sand exfoliation, then escort the guest into the ocean to rinse off.  We had to navigate through a semi-rocky beach area, fire coral, and jellyfish. Needless to say, we were never able to actually perform the treatment.

What new spa treatment would you like to try? I would love to try microneedling.  

What’s your go-to spa treatment? Any type of facial.

What two things about you don’t we don’t know? I love fitness, but I was never a runner. A couple of years ago, I was talked into doing the seven-mile bridge run in Marathon, FL. I have now completed seven of them. I dread the training and can’t wait for it to be over, but I love pushing myself to do it each year. I also am a dog mom and love training for the race each year by spending extra time with Stella (a big goofy yellow lab).

If you could work in any other profession in the world, what would it be? Probably something related to fitness or nutrition. 

How would you sum up your personal philosophy? Be kind to each other, and follow your gut to do the right thing.

What’s the best advice you’ve received? There are no small roles in the spa. Everyone’s job is important, and you cannot run a successful spa if someone is missing. I feel this pertains to all points of life, not just professionally.