Get to know Taylor Fields, corporate spa director at The Spa at Grand National (Opelika, AL), and a 10-year veteran in the industry who also oversees six resort spa locations along the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.
American Spa: What was the path that led you into the spa industry?
Taylor Fields: As I graduated high school and began college, the job that appealed to me was at Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa (Birmingham, AL), a resort near the neighborhood where I resided at the time. As I browsed the available positions, I was immediately drawn to the spa position, as it aligned with my personal interests and desires. The rest is history, and today, I serve as the corporate director of spa for PCH Hotels & Resorts.
AS: What are the most challenging and rewarding parts of working in the spa industry?
TF: One of the most challenging aspects of working in the spa industry is the continuation of demand and usage of spas as the output of staff and providers has diminished. This poses a huge challenge to not only our spas along the RTJ Spa Trail but also the spa industry as a whole. As the industry continues to grow, we often need to add layers of staff to our six spas to accommodate the increased demand for appointments. One of the most rewarding aspects is what our spas and staff provide our guests with on a daily basis. We provide our spa guests with more than a treatment. Rather, we oftentimes are their relief during a difficult time by consoling them, or we make someone feel more beautiful than they have ever felt by boosting their self-confidence.
AS: What has surprised you most about the spa world?
TF: The biggest surprise over the years in the spa industry is how mainstream spas have become. Spas that were once a luxury and only catered to a select few are now everywhere, including airports and at the touch of a mobile device.
AS: Where do you think the industry is heading?
TF: The spa industry continues to grow each year. As the millennials begin to become the spa’s primary customers, I foresee the way we reach and cater to our guests will be modified versus how spas have acted in the past. We have mere seconds to capture people’s attention and that is something we must address.
AS: What is the strangest client request you’ve fielded?
TF: With any request from our guests, we strive to make anything possible and avoid saying “no” when we can. From engagements in the couples’ massage room to special amenity requests upon their arrival to our resort, we have served and provided numerous guests with that wow factor.
AS: What is the most bizarre treatment you’ve experienced?
TF: My most unique spa experience was a Tree House Massage at the Ritz-Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach in Puerto Rico. Imagine a treehouse nestled in the top of an enormous tree overlooking the Rockefeller Nature Trail while in ultimate relaxation.
AS: What new spa treatment would you like to try?
TF: I am anxious to experience the Secret Garden Poultice Massage at The Spa at Grand National. It uses warm herbal poultice compressions combined with a Swedish-style massage. I have been assured this service will provide grounding spa therapy needed after a busy opening.
AS: What’s your go-to spa treatment?
TF: My go-to treatment is certainly a deep-tissue massage and the HydraFacial. As with a fitness regimen comes the soreness and stiffness, our spa therapists provide an amazing pressure-intensive massage that always immediately helps my range of motion. And nothing says results-oriented like the HydraFacial. I am addicted to the glow and overall appearance of my skin after having this service. Being on the go, I can get results from the HydraFacial in as short as a 30-minute treatment, which is perfect for someone who says, “I don’t have the time.”
AS: What two things about you don’t we know?
TF: I must say that one of my favorite hobbies is traveling when I am able to find the time in my busy schedule. I have been blessed to visit several bucket list locations, including Australia, Russia, Africa, Grand Cayman, Puerto Rico, British Virgin Islands, and many more. When traveling abroad, I have a deep appreciation for learning about various cultures and often make a point to visit a spa in each place I visit.
AS: If you could work in any other profession in the world, what would it be?
TF: I am working in the industry I was born to work in, and I adore it. In the spa industry, there are so many of my interests that I can utilize and express my entrepreneurial spirit as I continually plan the future of our Spa Trail. From merchandising to creating unique treatments and everywhere in between, spa operations have always fascinated me by all of the different avenues involved when operating. I often think of our spas as mini hotels, as we are turning the rooms after each treatment, providing guests with a retail experience in our boutique, serving guests while utilizing the spa’s amenities, and so much more.
AS: What’s the best advice you’ve received?
TF: To take a step back and reflect often on our purpose and why we are here—we serve people on a daily basis. It’s easy to get distracted by tasks of our busy operations, but I often make a point to reflect back to think about our larger purpose in life and how that connects to the way our spas operate.
AS: How would you sum up your personal philosophy?
TF: Practice what you preach. I would find it very hard to work in the spa and wellness industry without being personally involved. I stick to a strict diet and exercise regimen and strive to have a spa treatment at least once a month. However, with the diet, I often justify “living a little” on the weekends to trick the body. I also believe that happiness is contagious and that we must remember to find the humor in the times when it might get difficult. I often reflect to ensure I remain true to who I am and operate with core values of our company: trust, respect, integrity, collaboration, innovation, accountability, and execution.