Spa Talk with Garrett Mersberger From Kohler Waters Spa

Garrett Mersberger

Meet Garrett Mersberger, a 20-year veteran in the spa industry and the director of wellness at Kohler Waters Spa. 


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

I started out in marketing, handling all the advertising and marketing needs for our resorts, spas, and golf courses. After doing that for 10 years, I had a hunger to move into operations and took over Kohler’s 100,000-square-feet fitness facility. After doing that for two years, I moved to Texas to become the general manager of a private golf country club. Two years later, I returned to Kohler to manage the spas and have done so ever since. I had a great mentor over the past six years, Jean Kolb, an icon in the spa industry. She is another reason for my path into the spa industry and continues to be a great friend and mentor today.

What are the most challenging and rewarding parts of working in the spa industry?
Staffing can be the hardest challenge within the industry. ISPA’s latest study showed that we have more than 38,000 open positions in the spa industry. It’s hard to grow your business without staff. The most rewarding part of the industry is also the staff. There is not a more loving, giving, rewarding industry to work in outside the spa. 

What has surprised you most about the spa world?
Most surprising is how quickly this industry has grown in the past five years. Spa and wellness are now words you hear every day and everywhere. People are more educated now and understand that spa is not just a place to go for pampering. It’s a place to go for wellness, for healing, for recovery, for energy, for increased productivity, for balance.

Where do you think the industry is heading?
We have a bright future ahead, if, and that’s a big if, we can overcome the staffing shortage. Demand is there. Supply is not.

What is the most bizarre treatment you’ve experienced?
Cupping. Loved it. Not Painful. Very detoxifying.

What new treatment would you like to try?
Floating. Have never done it and need to soon.

What’s your go-to treatment?
Anything with the Vichy shower. In Wisconsin, we have cold, dry winters. The more exfoliating, hydrating, and warm water that I can experience, the better.

What two things about you don’t we know?
I was once fluent in Mandarin, and I was recently elected chairman of the ISPA board of directors.

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

How would you sum up your personal philosophy?
Balance. I am at my best when I am balanced. Work. Family. Self. Faith.

What’s the best advice you’ve received?
Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.


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