Auberge’s new Global Vice President of Wellbeing, Vivianne Garcia-Tunon talks about her plans for her new role.
Auberge Resorts Collection recently named Vivianne Garcia-Tunon as the company’s new Global Vice President of Wellbeing. The creation of this new role affirms Auberge’s commitment to offering guests impactful wellness experiences and building innovative spas and wellbeing destinations.
Ms. Garcia-Tunon has more than 25 years of experience creating forward-thinking, holistic health solutions for the hospitality industry. As global vice president of wellbeing, she will develop and deepen the wellness experience across Auberge Resorts Collection’s portfolio.
She embarked on her career journey at age 16, at a female-only gym chain in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and says, “The profound joy of making others feel better filled my soul and ignited my passion.” After high school, she relocated to Miami, and pursued a study in nutrition while simultaneously taking on the role of a spa receptionist at a nearby hotel. This decision led to a series of promotions and a rewarding five-year stint with Mandarin Oriental.
She then spent 10 years with ESPA International, the pioneer in luxury spa, wellness, and fitness operations. Under the mentorship of Susan Harmsworth, she honed her skills in areas like spa therapies, aromatherapy, wellness operations, design, marketing, and public relations. She says, “This invaluable experience allowed me to spearhead the successful opening of over 30 award-winning spas and wellness centers in partnership with renowned brands such as The Peninsula, One&Only, Four Seasons, and Ritz Carlton Reserve.”
At the same time, she returned to school to become a licensed massage therapist, skincare specialist, and energy medicine practitioner, later embarking on a spa consultancy venture in 2013 after a decade with ESPA.
Ms. Garcia-Tunon says, “Over the past decade, my journey has taken me to remarkable destinations, where I’ve contributed to projects for esteemed clients like Faena, Four Seasons, and even the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In 2018, I had a serendipitous encounter with the founders of THE WELL, leading to a ground-braking collaboration on a New York-based wellness start-up grounded in ancient wisdom and modern medicine. This partnership ultimately culminated in my formal appointment as Senior Vice President of Operations and Development, steering THE WELL’s expansion into the world of hospitality with Auberge Resorts Collection.”
As of 2023, she has been a part of forty-six worldwide spa and wellness openings, and after six fulfilling years with The Well, she seized the opportunity to join Auberge Resorts Collection as their first Global Vice President of Wellbeing. With 20 spas currently in the brand’s portfolio and nine in the pipeline, Garcia-Tunon arrives at a key moment to lead the developments and oversee all pre-opening elements including conception, design and operations.
We asked Vivianne Garcia-Tunon about her new role, her plans for the Auberge wellbeing brand, and what makes the best wellness experiences.
Can you please talk about your new/current role and what it entails?
In my new role as Global Vice President of Wellbeing, I will elevate Auberge’s positioning as a leading brand in the wellbeing space. I will conceptualize, develop, and oversee the wellbeing strategy at each property while maintaining its unique personality and staying connected to the brand’s overall spa and wellness philosophy and, in parallel, working closely with the design, creative, and operations teams to create truly unique and curated experiences that are locally inspired and connect guests to the soul of the place.
At Auberge, I am looking forward to exploring the concepts of healthspan, longevity, salutogenic design, and human rewilding – in the luxury hospitality space. I plan and strategize as an operator, but my creativity is born from a deep understanding of the human body, the physical and subtle.
What are your plans in this role?
As the Global Vice President of Wellbeing, my vision is to craft pioneering, immersive initiatives that enhance and enrich the wellness journey throughout Auberge Resorts Collection’s diverse portfolio. I am committed to preserving the unique character and individuality of each property while seamlessly aligning them with our brand’s overarching philosophy. This entails providing abundant opportunities for guests to unwind, introspect, and restore their well-being.
What are you most excited about?
I am particularly thrilled about reshaping the very concept of design-driven well-being within our global portfolio. As a dedicated practitioner, I eagerly anticipate the opportunity to pioneer and champion extraordinary therapeutic experiences that have yet to be offered in a hospitality context. Moreover, I am eager to connect with the passionate leaders and practitioners within our collection. For me, true wellness is embodied in the collaborative spirit that transcends geographical boundaries and brings teams from around the world together.
What are the industry trends or developments you are excited about?
I eagerly anticipate the prospect of fostering sustainable growth within our industry, characterized by a deliberate shift away from cookie-cutter spa concepts that often lead to confusion and the dilution of distinct therapies.
As we venture into 2024, my vision is one of abundant education and meticulously curated, personalized experiences that revolve around individualized wellness journeys.
I envision wellness as a dynamic force, extending its reach into every facet of our lives—from the way we come together in communities to our work environments, our physical activities, and the daily priorities we set.
Can you please talk about what makes the best wellness experience in a hotel or resort?
The ultimate wellness experience is the one that takes guests by delightful surprise! My expertise and fervor revolve around crafting extraordinary moments infused with surprise, joy, and creativity. This could mean commencing a treatment within an oversized sound bowl nestled amidst the Costa Rican mountains, experiencing myofascial release guided by skilled therapists in the heart of Napa Valley, immersing in mindful moments amidst the Sea of Cortez, or handpicking your own herbs for a rejuvenating body treatment in the Northeast. It’s in the realm of the curious and unexpected that true magic happens!
Does Auberge have a wellness philosophy?
Auberge is renowned globally for being a best in class operator and curator of destination wellness. We create world renowned luxury spas and wellbeing experiences that attract an audience of high-end well-being enthusiasts from around the globe. From destination wellness centers and luxury day spas to immersive retreat experiences, Auberge Resorts brings together the best practitioner talent, educational resources, visionary designers, and strategic partners to introduce unique and highly relevant wellbeing concepts that stand apart from the rest.
What is the biggest challenge facing the hospitality/wellness industry right now?
The biggest challenge our industry faces today is the lack of talent and the decrease in massage therapy professionals in the industry. On average, massage license applications are down 45% post COVID in the United States and even though we don’t have hard data for the rest of the world, we see the lack of talent at a global level.
Can you please talk about some ideas for solving that crisis?
My mission is to advocate for nationwide reforms aimed at achieving universal recognition of national massage therapy certification across all states. Currently, the process of transferring a massage therapy license between states presents significant challenges. Additionally, we are committed to forging strong partnerships with massage schools to ensure a robust pipeline of graduates who fully grasp the rewards and enriching potential of a career in massage therapy. On a global scale, we aspire to offer accessible opportunities for massage therapy education and potential career progression, particularly in the numerous leadership roles available within the field of wellness hospitality.
What at Auberge specifically are you excited about?
I am truly delighted to join the portfolio at such an exhilarating juncture. With five new spas currently in the brand’s pipeline, my arrival marks a pivotal moment to guide these developments and oversee all pre-opening aspects, encompassing conception, design, and operations. On a deeply personal note, it’s hard to fathom that sometime next year, I will commemorate the opening of my 50th wellness project! That is very exciting!
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.