At Atrio Spa at Las Alcobas (St. Helena, CA), the staff’s wellbeing is considered on par with that of guests. Spa brand curator Marjorie Charlton credits the owners with being extremely supportive of incorporating in-depth wellness programs for the staff and an ongoing therapist training program. Even before the spa opened, the team benefited from a daily yoga practice, meditation, and aromatherapy training.
“Therapists are truly a conduit,” says Charlton. “As spa operators, it is essential to realize the depth of what they perform daily and to ensure they have the proper tools to care for themselves, and in turn, our guests. It is essential that they are taking care of themselves physically, mentally, and emotionally. We provide the tools, and the rest is learned by continual refinement of their skill.”
To help promote wellbeing, employees are encouraged to participate in five minutes of daily meditation before their shift. “This gives everyone five minutes of peace before they begin their day, to change mindsets, slow down, and center—to be aware of where they are at that moment,” says Charlton. “From our preopening to our opening, meditation has brought a sense of sacredness to our days.” Beyond meditation, the team also receives spa treatments on a regular basis. While this benefits the therapists in training with subjects upon whom to practice, it also allows staff members to experience the therapeutic benefits of the treatment.
“Therapists have a very intimate and intense job: they are caregivers,” says Charlton. “A good therapist goes beyond the physical mechanics of a massage; they impart their tenderness and care. They truly give of themselves to each guest and treatment.” As a result, it’s important to ensure that their energy reserves are being replenished. To help do that, the spa provides employees with a a host of wellness tools to help them practice daily wellness, such as the opportunity to make their own essential oil blends and teaching them a set of easy asanas to be used throughout the day.
“Here at Las Alcobas, we like to say that wellness is a practice, not a test,” says Charlton. “If one puts the energy into themselves, the results will appear, even small shifts and sometimes powerful changes. The goal is the practice, not perfection.”