“I love working in a spa, it’s so relaxing.” Ahh, the glamorous life of a Spa Director! Traveling to other spas to experience their great ideas, products and protocols, big conventions in exotic places and hotels. Maybe pre COVID-19, but not today. My task today was writing another email to my Members explaining why we have to keep our facility closed and what we are doing to inform everyone of yet another positive-testing staff member. After that, it’s back to contact tracing by triangulating video footage, reservation lists and staff schedules. My Spa Reception (I call them my Air-Traffic Controllers), welcoming our members draped in PPE and a winning smile, still occasionally smack the phone receiver into their face shield en-route to their ear, but giggle it off and keep talking to callers on the other end. This is my “New Norm-hell.”
I am sooo NOT complaining, just the opposite, I am as proud as a Spa Papa can be of his team! “We got this!” I tell them over and over. Knowing we do, but not knowing for how long. How long until one of them gets a scratchy throat and I have to rinse and repeat my e-mail and contact tracing protocol again. That is what is keeping me up at night. That is the underlying anxiety I breathe out, whenever I breath in the white light.
I used to work for Universal Companies as an Account Manager way back in the early 2000’s. In fact I remember being in my Disneyland Hotel room on 9/11 and just sitting there silent, watching the 2nd plane crash into the tower, unable to comprehend what the day ahead would look like, and how could we transcend, yet somehow include this emotional trauma into our daily lives and help pull ourselves and our teams through? That morning, as flights were grounded and rental vans were getting ready for an impromptu road trip with vendors and attendees sharing the drive. We Spa leaders, in typical Spa Industry fashion, retreated to that healing place inside us, and just started caring for each other. It is what we do. It is how we are wired. It is our superpower and our biggest character flaw all shmushed together in one shoulder-pad-suited, Ylang-Ylang-infused, excel-spreadsheet-wielding transformer. But got through it because brains and hearts worked together in equal measure.
My friends, we got this. But we have to get it right. We have to be the positive change we wish to see in our world [Ghandi]. We need to confront everything from racism, affluent privilege, and political polarization to grieving the loss of friends, family and the retooled job-descriptions we were so intent on standardizing. We cannot be the only rigid trees in the forest or we will be toppled by the winds of change. I urge each of us to start a different narrative in our heads. One that includes everyone and not just a chosen few. One that says, “Here is what we are going to do” and not “What the hell are we going to do?” We must forgive ourselves for our short-comings and let others see our frailty so it inspires courage in others to do the same. We may just become stronger as a result of sharing how weak we truly are.
By: Mitchell Berkman, Spa & Wellness Director, Porta Vita, Villa Grande
Florida Spa & Wellness Association, Events Committee Chair