Karla Herrasti of RCD Hotels talked to Spa Executive about a variety of topics, including her career trajectory and the trends and developments she’s excited about.
RCD Hotels is the hospitality pioneer that introduced the concept of the all-inclusive to Mexico nearly 30 years ago. The company’s Hard Rock Hotels and Hard Rock golf courses are among the best-known brands on earth, with many awards to their name. To the world, Hard Rock Hotels mean fun and relaxation with a superior service standard.
RCD Hotels has been expanding and renewing its brand across Europe and North America, while maintaining strong, traditional roots and offering an excellent guest experience.
In October, 2020, Karla Herrasti became RCD’s Corporate Director of Spa in Latin America. She oversees dozens of staff in spas at seven hotels, which include Hard Rock Hotels in Riviera Maya, Cancun, Vallarta, Los Cabos and Punta Cana, Unico 20 87 in Riviera Maya, and Nobu Hotel at Cabo San Lucas Mexico. We spoke with Ms. Herrasti about her career, her wellness philosophy and what makes a great guest experience.
Tell us about your career trajectory and how you came to be doing what you are today
I’m from Mexico City. I studied communication and interior design, then worked in advertising and marketing. When I moved to Los Cabos, I found myself looking at different types of jobs because it’s a smaller town with a lot of hotels. I interviewed to be a wedding planner at a hotel and they offered me the job of Spa Concierge. I didn’t even know what that was, but they said I’d be perfect for it, so I took the job and I loved the work. When I saw the happy faces of these beautiful people thanking me for a treatment or service and saying, “Thank you. You gave me what I needed and transformed my experience,” I got this amazing feeling. For a few years I left and worked for a provider of spa products and equipment. I learned more about spa in this work seeing another point of view, the back of the house. A few years later, I was approached to return to hotels and remembered that good feeling. I also had the opportunity to work with Diana Mestre, a very famous wellness consultant here in Mexico to open a spa in Cancun. I recently had the opportunity to join RCD hotels. I’m very excited to be here.
Tell us about your spas and your approach to wellness
I oversee some very big spas. For example, the Hard Rock Punta Cana spa has 56 treatment suites and the Riviera Maya has 77 treatment suites on three floors. It’s like a whole city in that one spa.
When it comes to my wellness philosophy, I have some knowledge of psychology so I try to integrate the elements that help us to be in wellness. A wheel of wellness includes mental health, spiritual health, social health, and body health. We offer a complete experience that helps to relax, destress, reduce anxiety and recover the immune system and energy balance. This has always been important but at this time it is a priority in a humane life.
Last year I had internal bleeding and I lost a lot of blood. I almost died and nobody knows what was wrong with me. I think it was my body’s way of resetting. That experience changed the way I feel and believe in the world. At that moment, I started to live again and to want to share this light with everyone. If I can touch one heart, and transfer to a few people this light and the elements we need to be well for the whole of humanity that will be great. It’s time to heal.
What do you think makes a great guest experience?
Let me give you an example. Yesterday, I was reviewing the treatments we offer in the hotel and I was in the beauty parlor, ready to receive a hair treatment. I was running around because I need to answer a lot of emails and have a lot of phone calls, and I sat down and leaned back, ready to have my treatment. The service provider arrived and she told me to put my arms down and my cell phone aside, she started to cover my body with a hot towel, she used some aromatherapy. Three seconds later, I shut my mouth and I forgot everything. She had me completely in her hands.
What I am telling you with this is that the best experience that we can give to our clients is when we can cross that wall that we all put up around us and open a new window through which to see and enjoy and be grateful for the moment and experience.
Are you relying more on technology now?
Technology helps us do a lot of things right now, to determine the kind of skin that we have, and the products we need, for example. But it can’t supply that experience that you get directly from the hands of experts. You can get a scan and they can tell you a skin type. But when you go directly with the expert, and they feel your skin and use their hands to apply this product and are there in the room with you, and you are present together, technology can’t supply this. Technology has helped us a lot in the industry, but the tech needs to work with the experts and the magic creators of these experiences. Without this it will be impossible to be in a spa.
Are there any trends or developments in hospitality, spa, or wellness that you’re excited about?
I’m excited about everything. This past year has been a rough time and it’s a challenge to survive but the community is going through a transformation. I’m sure that all the new ideas that come out of this transformation will be amazing. A lot of providers are creating new elements and finding ways to renovate, recreate, reset, and be in this new way of living. I’m excited because all the time I hear new and creative ideas for the future.
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Spa Executive is published by Book4Time, the leader in guest management, revenue and mobile solutions for the most exclusive spas, hotels, and resorts around the globe. Learn more at book4time.com.
Great interview. With 56 and 77 treatment rooms I wonder how consistency is maintained with regard to home care recommendations? Is everyone doing their own thing or is there a regimen in place for retail that is built into the process?