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Spa Business
2015 issue 2

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Leisure Management - Global Mentorship Pilot Program


Global Mentorship Pilot Program

Participants in the inaugural session of the spa industry’s very first international mentorship programme tell us what they learned from the experience

The aim is to “transform spa managers into spa leaders” says Jean-Guy de Gabriac who’s heading up the pilot programme
Seventeen seasoned spa directors were paired with experienced managers who were looking to advance their career Minerva Studio/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
Each pairing caught up once every two weeks over the phone or via video conferences Goodluz/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

This January saw the launch of the first mentorship programme for the worldwide spa industry spearheaded by a team of international spa figures. Seventeen seasoned spa directors were paired with experienced managers who were looking to advance in their career. With participants from Abu Dhabi and Australia to Costa Rica and Cyprus, it really was a global affair.

Over the three months, each couple caught up every two weeks via video conference or phone to hash out career challenges identified by the mentee. The most popular topics included finance, strategic business planning, leadership and marketing. The framework for the discussions is based on ISPA’s list of core competencies for the development of spa management professionals.

The overall consensus from those involved is that it’s been an invaluable experience and one that benefits both mentor and mentee and – indeed – the industry as a whole.

First of its kind
“Motivation is like a door that can only be opened from the inside, so to encourage staff to give their best to consistently wow clients, we have to lead not merely manage them,” says Jean-Guy de Gabriac, CEO of training and consultancy firm Tip Touch. De Gabriac who’s heading up the Global Mentorship Pilot Program alongside Deborah Smith, principal of Smith Club & Spa Specialists, adds: “Our ambitions are to help transform spa managers into spa leaders.”

The programme, which is the only formal mentorship initiative serving the global spa industry, follows the 2013 Spa Career Path Survey conducted by the Spa Management Education Committee of the Global Wellness Summit. The survey, which we reported on in Spa Business (see SB14/1 p26) found that an overwhelming 94 per cent of spa managers feel a good mentor is important to a successful career. It also revealed that mentoring was the top contributing factor to becoming a strong leader and understanding HR issues.

“The concepts of spa, wellness and complementary healing principles date back to ancient times, with many practices handed down from one generation to the next,” says de Gabriac. “Consider this a modern version of that practice, with mentors giving freely of their time and talent to spa professionals who are in the early stages of their career.”

He went on to say that the exponential growth of the global spa industry has meant that it’s often necessary to supplement what’s being taught in the classroom with real-life expertise. “This is one way to reduce the learning curve for these junior spa managers who show great potential yet need and want sage guidance to master the profession.”

So far, the response from the industry has been positive – the second session in the programme, which began in April and runs through to June, is already full. In July, the pilot programme will then be analysed and a committee will make recommendations for the number and length of the sessions in 2016. It’s hoped that there will continue to be at least two sessions a year and that the number of participants will grow to up to 75 manager and mentor pairings.

Get involved
Spa managers with at least two years of experience are eligible to apply for the Global Mentorship Pilot Program. The second session, which began in April, is already full but applications for 2016 are being accepted in May. The programme is free for all participants.

Email: jean-guy@tiptouch.com
Web: Facebook.com/GlobalWellnessMentorship

Sponsored by Biologique Recherche
French skincare brand Biologique Recherche is the exclusive sponsor of the Global Mentorship Pilot Program. Dr Philippe Allouche, CEO of Biologique Recherche USA says: “With training being a fundamental part of our brand, we’re proud to support this new initiative that offers guidance to up-and-coming spa leaders.”



Franzisca Haala
Franzisca Haala Director of Spa Operation Carmel Valley Ranch, California, USA

From the outset, the team placed an importance on understanding my goals and where I was in my career. My focus was to refine my knowledge in financials and strategic development. From the meetings with my mentor Jim Croghan, director of spa & reception at The Grand Del Mar, I was able to come up with a blueprint of how to tackle both of these. I received consistent and insightful feedback and guidance and left having accomplished everything I wished for and more.

To have the chance to be mentored by an inspiring industry peer has been phenomenal. It’s expanded my knowledge and set me up for further growth in my career. I cannot recommend it enough to industry peers – it’s a way for them to give back and to strengthen our community.

"It’s expanded my knowledge and set me up for further growth in my career"



Paris Kounoudis
Paris Kounoudis Director of spa Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi

The main topics my mentee and I decided to work on were the financial aspects of the spa business, particularly profit and loss accounts, as well as essential leadership skills such as daily actions that a spa manager can implement to drive and motivate the team to achieve their goals and targets. There was a mutual understanding between us and because we had clear goals, good communication and commitment, the plan ran smoothly.

I’d definitely be a mentor again – sharing experiences and best practice examples benefits both parties and the feedback you receive is essential for professional development.

On a wider level, as the spa industry continues to grow at such a fast pace, there’s an increasing shortage of experienced spa managers. I strongly believe that education and sharing knowledge with young spa managers through this programme will only benefit the industry in the long-run



Karin Cofino
Karin Cofino Director spa & retail Ritz-Carlton Aruba

I’ve been in the spa business for a long time and always struggled to find information about how to run a facility and about revenue management, because a spa is always seen as an amenity rather than a profit centre in its own right. I joined the programme to assist spa managers or directors with the questions they might face.

It’s not designed to hand mentees an answer, but rather guide them in their journey in finding their own solution while keeping them focused on the business and company guidelines. What worked best was being able to focus on just one mentee, building trust with them, getting to understand their problems and coming up with suggestions.

Although I was a mentor, this was a learning process for me too – the experience goes both ways – and I feel it will help me towards the next level in my career. I’d certainly do this again because I really enjoy connecting with people who share my interest of ‘being the best at what they do’.



Elodie Dailland
Elodie Dailland Spa manager Domaine de Cice-Blossac, France

The programme gave me an extraordinary opportunity to exchange ideas with and to receive professional advice from Morgan Lefrançois, the corporate spa business development manager at Clarins.

It came at the right time for me – I’ve been a spa manager for five years and an international trainer for 10, but I wanted guidance in how to improve my overall management skills. I also wanted help in developing the wellness aspect of the spa – to address both physical and mental wellbeing – to create a niche.

Even half way through the programme, I started to notice a difference in the way I worked. Of course, participants need to put in the time and effort to get the most out of this, but I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to make an improvement.

"I wanted guidance in how to improve my overall management skills"


Dailland was mentored by Morgan Lefrançois

Originally published in Spa Business 2015 issue 2

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