Five cardinal qualities of successful spa directors

Spa directors and managers are a special breed. Spa is an industry built on wellness, compassion, beauty, and relationships – and successful leaders in the industry have a passion for all of these things.

There are certain qualities that all leaders in all industries should embody – among these are confidence, diplomacy, integrity, focus, passion, patience, and decisiveness. And, while spa directors and managers should also display these qualities, there are others that are specific to success in the spa industry, due to the unique nature of the business.

Here are five of those qualities. If you are a spa director, you likely embody and nurture these qualities on a daily bases. If you’re an aspiring director, these are the  qualities you should aspire to embody. And, if you’re hiring a spa director, these are the qualities to look for in a candidate. So, we’ve included some tips on how to spot them.


Spa staff work hard, while giving a great deal of themselves, both physically and emotionally, and focusing on the needs and care of others. Stress and burnout, are often high, as Book4Time CEO Roger Sholanki pointed out in his recent letter from the publisher.

A good spa manager is in tune with, and sympathetic to, the needs of their employees.

Interview questions designed to assess empathy in a job candidate

“Tell me about a time when you had to deliver bad news.”

“Tell me about a colleague with whom you did not get along. Why did you not get along and how did you handle the relationship?”


In an interview with Spa Executive, Gordon Tareta, of Tareta Group International and Marcus Hotels said, “I’ve had a lot of spa directors work for me, and those who do the best are humble. They realize that every relationship with every individual and every customer is a unique relationship.

“Every single interaction, even if it’s a member that’s been there a thousand times, depends on how that person is feeling that day. You have to be wise to how to connect at every moment. It might be different every moment. That’s what our industry is about, asking how do we connect and deliver exactly what our guests are looking for.”

Job interview questions designed to assess humility

“Tell me about a time you succeeded with a team.” (Listen for who gets the bulk of the credit).

“Tell me about a time someone helped you succeed.”


Spa is a luxury service and people who pay for luxury service have high expectations. Some guests are going to be annoying, demanding, and frustrating. They might be entitled, and they might be rude to staff and therapists. A spa director has to handle difficult guest interactions with tact and diplomacy.

Relationships are everything – with your staff and with your guests. Without these people you haven’t got a spa. They should be treated accordingly, no matter what.

Interview questions designed to assess personability and diplomacy

“Tell me about a time when a customer was unhappy and you made them happy.”

“Tell me about a time when you resolved a conflict between others.”


Conscientiousness can mean having a high set of moral standards – important in any manager handling a team. And it also refers to one who works hard, pays close attention to the world around them, and is detail oriented.

Attention to detail is an integral part of the spa experience, particularly at award-winning and five-star spas. From the moment the guest arrives, through treatment and follow-up, details and minutiae matter. And there is a lot of minutiae. A good spa director stays on top of everything without losing site of the bigger picture — or their cool.

How to assess conscientiousness in a candidate

You can gauge whether one is detail oriented by putting specific instructions in a job posting, such as “Save your resume file as ‘your name-resume-name of spa,’ and asking candidates to list “three reasons why you are a good fit for this position.” Candidates who fail to follow exact instructions should raise red flags. A well written and typo-free resume is another good sign.

Interview question designed to assess conscientiousness

“Tell me a success story in which the details made a big difference.”

“What is your greatest success, why is it your greatest success, and what steps did you take to achieve it?”


All of the above challenges are best handled by someone with a flair for creative solutions and problem solving. Spa managers need to be creative when motivating staff, communicating with demanding clientele, and finding ways to elevate the guest experience.

A spa manager or director will, of course, also be expected to contribute ideas for therapies and menu items, and for new products. Spas work best when everyone brings ideas, enthusiasm, and creativity to the table.

Interview questions designed to assess creativity

“Your team is having a bad day, what do you do to cheer them up?”

“Tell me about a time you had to get creative to solve a problem or make something work.”

“What is interesting about you?”

“What does success mean to you?”

The director must be the one leading the way, demonstrating creativity, setting a standard, and encouraging everyone to do the same.

(Image: Copyright: julief514 / 123RF Stock Photo)


Spa Executive magazine is published by Book4Time, the world’s most innovative spa, salon, wellness, and activity management software. Learn more at


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