Spa and wellness is deeply rooted in human connection, and no one knows that better than Cristina Cascio, spa director at The Well Spa at Miramonte Resort & Spa in Indian Wells, California. Cascio specializes in guest and staff connection and continues to work toward creating unique guest experiences. Find out more about her work running a successful spa.
How did you get started in the industry?
I was actually working my way through college and planned on leaving the hospitality industry to pursue a career in mental health. However, after I made my way through the rooms division of the resort I worked in at the time, I discovered the spa and fell in love with its many facets; I decided I couldn’t leave.
How do you craft new treatments for the spa menu?
I am lucky to work with an amazingly engaged and creative group of therapists. Since we reopened The Well Spa in March 2021, we have brainstormed treatments based on our collective experiences at dozens of spas, with the goal of bringing in the best of the best with a Well Spa twist. We are testing several new treatments, adjusting and training so that we can add them to the menu this spring. We also are infusing the beautiful citrus and herbs from our property into our oils and exfoliants for a vibrant and unparalleled scent journey.
What wellness trends do you see emerging?
I definitely see a focus on treating the mind and not just the body, especially after people have found themselves going through so much stress over the past few years. We began offering a couple of classes for guests that work on their state of mind: one with a local artist that takes guests through active meditation while painting, and another that incorporates yoga and wine tasting. Over Thanksgiving weekend, we even added violins into the yoga and wine tasting, which was such a fun and full body experience.
What is your favorite wellness practice?
I love bike riding in a beautiful and natural setting surrounded by trees and majestic mountains, as it really resets me when I need it.
How do you hire and train new staff?
My team is involved in the hiring process right alongside me, because the cultural fit of a therapist weighs as heavily as their talent and skill set. I have passed on talented therapists in the past because their ego was too big or they didn’t have a team mentality; these behaviors don’t work or set us up for success.
What is your top tip for running a successful spa?
To run a successful spa, you have to take care of your team and find ways to keep them feeling productive and engaged, or else it will show to your guests.
What do you love most about the wellness industry?
I love that the spa and wellness industry can and often does feel very family oriented, with close bonds and great synergy.
How do you foster guest connections within spa treatments?
Listening to people and asking the right questions has helped me figure out the right formula for life-changing experiences. For example, last month I met a woman who was going through the loss of her mother. She was returning to The Well Spa because she had visited with her mom in the past, and they had an amazing time. She really wanted something that felt healing and transformative, so we ended up choosing the Gemstone Body Wrap for her. We started her day in one of our private outdoor meditation spaces with a beautiful tray that held a candle, a journal and three slices of agate. She chose the one that she felt most connected to and learned that it was particularly helpful for releasing and healing a trapped or repressed emotional layer. She was shocked, but she found peace.
What is your favorite healthy recipe?
Grilled vegetables are at the top of my list—eggplant specifically. With a little oil and the right seasoning, I would choose it over steak any day!
What is your greatest achievement?
In my career, I would say my greatest achievement is mentoring a handful of special people who wanted to make a better life for themselves and their families. It’s incredible what investing time and energy into good people can do. Oftentimes you realize they just need someone to coach them along and believe in them.
What other holistic healing treatments have you considered for the spa?
For our next menu, I was thinking about offering journaling, active meditation or sage burning as part of specific treatments. We know these activities are not for everyone, but they will exceed the expectations of those who do connect with these experiences.
What is one thing you can’t live without?
My specialized road bike. It works better than therapy for me!