Spa Talk with David Hans, Ph.D.

David Hans, Ph.D., executive director at Sunrise Springs Integrative Wellness Resort (Santa Fe, NM)

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

I have worked the past 20 years in the fields of healthcare and hospitality.


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

Like many people in the industry, I have been on my own path to greater health and wellbeing. Following careers in corporate and investment banking as well as healthcare, I joined Sunrise Springs to help create an integrative wellness destination that offered opportunities for personal growth and transformation.


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

For me, the challenges and rewards of the spa industry are interrelated. I see the spa industry as dynamic and evolving, which necessitates a keen awareness of emerging trends and research and an attention to the wants and desires and needs of our valued guests.


What is your proudest accomplishment?

I believe I am in the midst of my proudest accomplishment. The development of Sunrise Springs has afforded me the opportunity to utilize my entire skill set to create the next generation health and wellness destination. I have assembled an amazing and passionate team who are committed to providing guests with a meaningful and transformative wellness experience.


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

The level of creativity and innovation among my colleagues and the willingness to share best practices in service of the guest experience has surprised me the most.


What qualities do you look for in your spa staff?

I look for customer service excellence, alignment with a wellness lifestyle, and a passionate commitment to providing a unique and transformative experience for our guests.


Where do you think the industry is heading?

The recent Global Wellness Summit in Mexico City assembled leaders and influencers from 40 different countries who spoke about current shifts in wellness and exciting industry prospects. In particular, I appreciated the idea that integrative wellness is no longer a trend, but instead is becoming a way of being. For example, wellness programs are being replaced by a culture of wellness. This shift gives me immense hope for our future.


What is the strangest client request you’ve fielded?

At Sunrise Springs, we focus on how we can best offer solutions for every guest’s requests or issues. 


What new spa treatment would you like to try?

I am particularly drawn to the idea of immersing oneself in nature as a part of spa experiences. The integration of nature and natural elements into spa is what truly interests me. For example, we are exploring the integration of Native American teachings and therapeutic bodywork in an outdoor setting.


What’s your go-to spa treatment?

As an active outdoors enthusiast, I enjoy a poultice-style sports massage.


What’s your favorite skincare ingredient?

I prefer clean, scentless, non-greasy products such as a hydrating balm.


Which brands are your go-to favorites?

At Sunrise Springs, we are currently experimenting with herbs and plants harvested on property to incorporate into our spa services. It’s an exciting process.


What are two things about yourself we don’t know?

I have completed numerous marathons and Tough Mudder events. I have a daily practice of mindfulness, which includes meditation and art journaling.


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

As a psychologist, I have held numerous positions in the healthcare field, which have enabled me to directly impact the quality of people’s lives.


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

My current role at Sunrise Springs offers me to the opportunity to get involved in everything from program development to space planning and utilization to sales and marketing. It also allows me to establish an organizational culture and provide individual coaching and development for my team.


How would you sum up your personal philosophy?

Embrace your life’s purpose, be kind to others, and be sure to prioritize fun.


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

My need for seven hours of sleep per night.


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

I like to unplug to recharge. Fitness, outdoor activities, and quality time with friends and family are my priorities.


What are your three greatest priorities in life?

Health, personal growth, and relationships.


What’s the best advice you’ve received?

I remember attending a lecture by Marianne Williamson in San Francisco years ago. At one point in the evening, she shared, “if the train doesn’t stop at your station, it’s not your train.” I interpreted this to refer to the concept of faith and have carried it with me ever since.