Virtual Spa Week: Hope & resilience in face of catastrophes

In light of the coronavirus, Virgine Fliegans, Tricia Greenaway, Stephanie Rest and Mitchel Rivera join Professional Beauty Group MD, Mark Moloney and Jean-Guy de Gabriac, World Spa & Wellness conference producer and World Wellness Weekend founder, to discuss how spa businesses have survived and recovered through previous incidents that have affected the industry.


As part of World Spa & Wellness’s Virtual Spa Week, experts from across the spa and wellness industries have shared how their businesses have recovered from set-backs and the steps they took to get there.

Mitchel Rivera, CEO Cloud Spa in Puerto Rico, speaks about how his business was impacted by hurricane Maria in 2017. “When Hurricane Maria Hit Puerto Rico, we never expected for it to grow to a category 6,” he says. His spa was only closed for 11 days after the hurricane hit, however, “the phone lines were all down, there was practically no internet and the whole Island was without power,” he says.

“I stood in front of the spa facilities days after and the staff started pouring in. Human connection was most important at that time and immediately my mind started to roll... we wanted to work and people needed our help,” he says. “I reached out to our landlord and he agreed to let us use the Gym facilities and turn it into a pop-up spa. What an amazing journey that was.”

 Bouncing back from Covid-19

Stephanie Rest, founder of Caribbean Wellness & Education in Miami, adresses the impact the coronavirus has had in the Carribean. “The Caribbean is and will continue to be majorly impacted over the next several months with the travel bands and continued spread of Coronavirus through the region,” she says. What’s more, the region is only just recovering from hurricanes Irma and Maria. 

“The positive news is some destinations are reporting very few cases, like St. Vincent and Anguilla who have as little as two and with all hope will be highly sought out places to visit after the travel-ban is lifted,” she says. “That being said, it is an excellent time to find travel deals in the largest region in the world, who are primarily reliant on tourism – take advantage of this now!”

Launching a new business

Virginie Fliegans, spa director at Bulgari Paris in France, is currently preparing for the opening of the 5-star spa and says communication with your teams is imperative. “It is important to maintain a link with your team, guests, members and keep them engaged,” she says. “During this terrible moment, we have for once time to connect, to re-connect, time to think, time to do all the things that we keep postponing because of lack of time.”

“Maybe it is a good opportunity to do some brainstorming with your team.You can also have people from other department if you are working in an hotel spa, or have some of your loyal guests joining you during these sessions,” she says.

Stay future-focused 

Tricia Greenaway, founder of Wellness Footprints in Antigua, highlights the importance of shifting your perspective during troublsome times.“Seeing the catastrophic effects on our industry, I’d like for us to begin proactively thinking about and adjusting ourselves to have a shift of mindset in understanding that at any given time, something can occur,” she says.

“So opening a dialog about how to begin thinking of other resources, how we can be more diverse in our industry skills and a contingency plan put in place not just financially, but also mentally and emotionally so that we are better prepared as an industry.”


See more from our Virtual Spa Week on our Youtube Channel