By Lauren Shapiro & Renee Long
It’s easy to fall into habits. We all do it sometimes. We rely on the familiar. And, that can serve us in many situations, but maybe not when we’re trying to shift direction in life. When you want to grow and try something new, you have to look past the familiar so you can recognize new opportunities. This is as true for corporate executives as it is for spa professionals.
Maybe you’re the world’s best customer service rep and you want to work your way into holistic spa management. Maybe you’ve relocated and are trying to break into the local spa scene. Or, maybe you’re a spa professional looking to make some new connections. Wherever you are, there are options!
Here are 6 alternative spa venues we love that you might be overlooking:
1. Wellness Centers
Wellness centers are often more of a collective environment, where different health and wellness practitioners share office space and collaborate. They can include naturopathic doctors, acupuncturists, massage therapists, aromatherapists, yoga therapists, and so on. Some wellness centers even have saunas, mineral baths, and other spa-associated services.
One of the primary benefits of employing your spa skills at a wellness center is the community. Wellness centers tend to be more focused on creating a recurring place for clients to come and work on their well-being, but also to meet other members of the wellness community.
So, if the idea of some community bonding appeals to you, check out the wellness centers in your area (or wherever you think you’d ideally like to be!).
2. Retreat Centers
Whether you consider yourself “granola” or not, don’t discount those funky retreat centers. Yes, some of them can be off the beaten path and a little unconventional (even clothing optional! so make sure you do your research and stick with what works for you), but they can also be really popular. That means a potentially steady stream of clients.
Retreat centers host a variety of events for wide-range of participants through the course of the year. So, there is a lot of opportunity to meet some interesting people, and also to meet the needs of this diverse audience through high-quality spa services.
For example, Salishan Spa & Golf Resort on the Oregon coast offers meeting and event space, as well as wedding services, and they have a full-service spa. Another example is Breitenbush Hot Springs in Detroit, Oregon, which offers workshops, retreats, and day visits throughout the year, including hot springs, well-being programs, and massage. Think of all the potential wellness-seeking and/or stressed out people who could benefit from your spa management skills!
To find a retreat center that might work with your vibe, give the Retreat Finder a try — you can find it here: http://www.retreatfinder.com/
3. Festivals & Conferences
Many of the world’s largest wellness-related organizations host conferences each year. Some even host several. Yoga Journal, for example, hosts about five live events per year and across the country (e.g., San Francisco, New York City, Estes Park).
While many of these events are held in conference centers or outdoor venues that don’t offer formal spa facilities, they do often feature “pop up” services, like a spa corner for foot soaks, as well as workshops, lectures, and marketplaces for wellness products.
So, if there is a festival or conference with a cult following (Wanderlust comes to mind!), you may want to check out opportunities to work with the actual organization in addition to opportunities to participate in the on-location events. While this may not necessarily be a full-time gig like some of our other recommendations, think of all the potential clients you might meet … from all over the world! Who knows where those initial conversations might take you!
If you want to see what types of industry festivals and conferences are available, bookmark FestivalFinder.com. At the time of this article, it’s a new site in development — so you can check back here: http://www.festivalfinder.com/
4. International Hotels
Most high-end hotels in the United States offer some sort of spa services, typically including a pool, sauna, massages, facials, and so on. But, maybe you’re not really a “hotel person.” Or, maybe you just think you’re not a hotel person. LOL.
Look, the hotel industry offers a lot of opportunity. But, if you’re not a traditional “hotel person,” maybe you try a hotel abroad (Hello, hot tub in the Swiss Alps!). You’d have the same opportunity to be of service and to help people, but in a new location with massive opportunities to explore, too.
Plus, immersing yourself in a new culture, like an international spa, allows you to learn while you work. You can discover new philosophies of spa services and spa management particular to the culture in which you’re working. So, make sure you pick a place that really speaks to you.
To get you get started, a few international hotspots with a happening spa culture include: Thailand, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Fiji, Malaysia, Morocco, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Ghana, Vietnam, and Croatia, among others. This is where an International Spa Association (ISPA)-recognized certificate in spa management comes in really handy.
One note, working internationally comes with its own set of rules. Most likely you will be required to secure a work permit and/or travel visa before you leave the U.S. Always check with the country to which you’re traveling and your future employer before you make any firm plans. You can learn more about working internationally on the U.S. Department of State website here: http://www.state.gov/m/fsi/tc/79765.htm
To find an international hotel that might interest you, try the Caterer Global website — you can find it here: http://www.catererglobal.com/jobs/spa-therapist/hotel/
5. Corporate Spas
Several large corporations, like Microsoft, make spa services available to their employees on the company campus. These companies are into improving the overall health and vitality of their work place, not to mention the general happiness factor.
A corporate campus spa might be a good fit for you if you enjoy working in large-scale environment and with many different people. Also, it’s important to note an opportunity like this might require you to relocate. That can be a big plus if you’re looking to break into a new scene! Remember, while the company’s employees would be your immediate and most important clients, once you establish some solid relationships, referrals might also come your way.
But, if this doesn’t sound like a good fit for you, if you have more of a wanderer’s spirit, then keep in mind that many companies will also contract with licensed professionals to come in and offer wellness services on a regular basis. So, if you like traveling from location to location and an alternating schedule, this might be a good option for you.
Lunch break mini-facial, foot soak, or shoulder massage?! Yes, please!
Most people have to choose between their job and seeing the world. Not when you work as a spa professional for a cruise line! If you have that wanderlust gene and consider yourself “sea worthy” (as in you don’t turn green at the thought of rough seas), working on a cruise ship might be the perfect option for you. On a cruise ship, you have access to state-of-the art spa facilities as well as epic travel adventures.
While it might sound like taking a permanent vacation, working on a cruise ship has its challenges. Your work life and personal life are entirely connected, and often, you’ll be working and living in close quarters. Your colleagues will be your roommates, friends, and travel companions. Depending on your personality, this kind of environment can be stifling or can be exhilarating and allow you to create incredible memories. Either way, working as a spa professional for a cruise line is a unique experience.
A quick note: make sure to have all of your travel documents in order before accepting a position with a cruise line. Documents like passports, work visas, and current vaccinations are all things to have ready to go before you climb aboard.
 Caverley, A. (2014, June 26). Top 5 Surprising Spa Destinations. Wanderlust and Lipstick. Retrieved from http://wanderlustandlipstick.com/blogs/spahopper/2014/06/26/top-5-surprising-spa-destinations/
 Greatist. (2013, October 17). The 46 Healthiest Companies to Work for in 2013. Retrieved from http://greatist.com/health/healthiest-companies-to-work-for-2013