Spa Talk with Michelle Frye

spa director

Meet Michelle Frye, spa director at Miraval Life in Balance Spa at Monarch Beach Resort (Dana Point, CA).

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

I have been in the hospitality industry now for 25 years and in the spa industry for 15 years.

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

I have a degree in hotel management and started working in luxury resorts in the rooms division. As I was on a path to become a director of rooms, my boss asked me to spend a year in a spa, as I would likely oversee the spa in the future. That was it. I truly loved the industry, and I never looked back.

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

Working in a high volume spa that has a lot of moving parts is really like running a hotel and can bring on a lot of stress. However, the environment is one that draws you in and makes you want to come to work every day. I love seeing the impact spas have on one’s wellbeing, and this is not something you can get at any job.

What has surprised you most about the spa world?

I think I was most surprised by how ever-changing this industry has become. From the original relaxing spa offerings to the technological trendy treatments and then back to simplified again. It is exciting to follow the trends each year to see what is happening next.

What is the strangest client request you’ve fielded?

We had a guest sneak his dog into the men’s locker area and actually brought the dog into the Jacuzzi with him. He seemed honestly surprised when we explained that this was, in fact, not allowed.

What new spa treatment would you like to try?

If you would have asked me six months ago, I would have had a few, but now having experienced the best of what Miraval has to offer, I feel very lucky.

What’s your go-to spa treatment?

I love Osea’s Sea Oxygen Facial, but my real vice is my monthly pedicure. It is when I feel the most relaxed, and being on my feet all the time, I love to have a little focus on them.

What don’t we know about you?

I paddled a six-person outrigger canoe 41 miles from the Island of Molokai to the island of Oahu—my greatest accomplishment.

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

I am a resort girl, so I would likely go back to my roots and work at a high-end tropical resort somewhere, likely back in the rooms division.

How would you sum up your personal philosophy?

I rarely get stressed and always want to make life fun. Laughing a lot generates happiness around you and creates a work environment everyone wants to come to every day.

What’s the best advice you’ve received?

When I first entered the spa world, I had a seasoned spa manager tell me that the key to being successful in this industry was to lead by your heart first instead of your head. That changed the type of leader I was and changed my career.