2014 was an incredibly rewarding year for me in the Caribbean. The spa at Rockhouse Hotel was celebrating its 10th anniversary (Rockhouse was the first spa to feature my natural aromatherapy spa brand Caribbean Essentials in 2004) and personally, I was celebrating 11 years as their Spa & Wellness Consultant. The spa at Rockhouse has been an amazing success and my most rewarding consultancy partnership to-date. Guests fully embraced and loved the authentic, unique Caribbean Spa experience I had created, and 11 years on, we still have the same spa team I interviewed a decade ago. The spa has become Rockhouse's heartbeat, a nurturing haven at the centre of the hotel. And as the Spa's reputation has grown, both new and repeat guests have made the spa their first port of call on arrival.
Eleven years earlier I had pitched my full vision for a Rockhouse Spa & Wellness programme to the owner of Rockhouse, Paul Salmon, who is an incredibly compassionate human being and creative visionary. He is someone I have total respect for on every level - as a business professional, and now as a long time friend. My big vision included an all encompassing wellness concept including a full service spa, wellness programme, activities programme, bathing ritual pavilion, organic spa garden, labyrinth / meditation / reflection / garden zone, spa cuisine menu and juice bar. As with any imaginative project you present to your clients, you offer / pitch your biggest vision and wait to see what gets approved. I have always had the ability of seeing the end vision when nothing is yet tangible. #attitudeofgratitudeSo I could clearly picture how this hip boutique hotel could showcase all I imagined. But, like any project, 'nothing happens before its time'.
In 2004 I created the spa I wanted set in the cliffs of Negril Jamaica, offering two amazing environments totally devoted to my Caribbean spa treatment rituals; two cabanas on the breath-taking cliff edge and a temple-like garden spa pavilion. The whole focus was on relaxing and healing, allowing guests to rejuvenate, re-balance and totally unwind. I had a dedicated team of holistic therapists to deliver an extensive selection of bespoke treatments from Caribbean Essentials - a natural, luxury, aromatherapy sensory spa brand created by yours truly, Linda Hall, Rockhouse Spa & Wellness Director.
Over the coming years, as the hotel expanded other projects took priory, however when you know something is going to be amazing you keep chipping away (I'm sure Paul would call it “wearing him down”!) i still knew that the wellness concept I had imagined for Rockhouse would be incredible, unique, a trail blazer. So I was determined to keep presenting the concept! FINALLY I got the green light to go ahead with the 'big picture vision' in January 2014 after some really pushy persuasion. The time was right. The hotel was ready, but I was terrified, exhilarated, and excited all at the same time to have the opportunity to put all I had imagined into fruition. One proviso I made was that if I was to make the whole wellness concept a success at Rockhouse, it needed to impact every department in the hotel, so the whole Rockhouse team (all 190+ ) would benefit and therefore go on to exemplify my wellness vision. Paul agreed, and every day for 3 months at 1.30pm I introduced “wellness” to members from each and every department from housekeeping, grounds, kitchen, bar, boutique, front office through to all managers and even the GM. Every day was jam packed with training, meetings, time spent in spa, with food & beverage, interviewing and sourcing materials and suppliers. It was an exhausting, but totally brilliant experience and one of the most rewarding 3 months of my life. Staff from all departments still talk about it and would love, even after 3 years, to have more of this kind of training. It opened up and personalised the world of wellness to each and every member of the Rockhouse family and everyone fully embraced it in their own unique way.
My all encompassing wellness concept was to be a five-element, seasonal inspired, chakra-orientated, aromatherapy, total wellness programme built around 4 wellness holistic core principles areas (pillars). It was intended to stimulate, detoxify, rebalance and rejuvenate the senses, bringing total 'wellbeing' in mind, body, spirit. The overall emphasis was to interlace the four wellness pillars with six focus topic areas to deliver a multi disciplinary approach.
As Spring is the best season of the year to launch new projects, it seemed only right to launch this unique wellness programme at this time. Spring's rising expansive yang energy works with you to ensure maximum success. I truly believe that anything and everything is possible in Spring. its about new beginnings, fresh starts and moving forward with clarity and I wanted to maximise this powerful energy to fully launch the wellness programme at Rockhouse. The 2 organs up for service in Spring are the liver (the planner) and the gallbladder (the doer) so again, this seemed the perfect combination to get the job done. This was to be an all encompassing, mammoth, organic undertaking. I had been working on my own wellness cycle conceptually and practically for over 20 years, and now I was getting the opportunity to put it into practice.
My approach to spa cuisine focused on the actual physical seasonal organs that come up for service and how we (in spa) work to treat those areas / organs / emotions on a holistic level within our spa treatment ritual packages. I wanted the spa cuisine to seasonally tie in and link with the spa to further enhance the guest's wellness options by presenting healthy organic, seasonal juices etc. I worked intensely with the food & beverage department on a daily basis and at the end of three months together we had created six full spa cuisine menus – 6 soups – salads - main course dishes and desserts, along with sixteen juice options. Several of these went forward, some didn’t, however we are constantly revisiting the menu and the body of work I presented / completed was incredibly rewarding and will go with me on future projects. I am immensely proud of every dish, juice and concept I presented during this period.
For the mindfulness and activities programmes I wanted to keep the whole offering very cultural and I was blessed to find the most amazing, humble, and incredibly talented guys (the universe totally presents what you need, when you need it) @ricardo.cope - Ricardo Cope, brilliant artist @henroy_lengend - Henroy Whitton, vibrant dancer @kemar418 - Orlando Davies, passionate drummer. I am delighted to say all these activities got the green light and myself and this delicious team are still going from strength to strength 3 years down the line. We are friends & family, and it’s a beautiful relationship that brings me so much pride and joy. Cope presents 2 beautiful art classes a week, Henroy presents 3 vibrant dance classes and Orlando presents a powerful Africa / Caribbean drumming class on a Sunday afternoon. Guests have totally embraced these brilliant additions to the Rockhouse cornucopia.
The 3 months it took me to set up phase one and launch the wellness programme at Rockhouse is out there for all to see, as an establish, fully functioning programme, a beautiful body of work and a major success story in my career. At Rockhouse, I implemented an integrated wellness programme designed to guide guests toward a state of inner peace and physical equilibrium. We now have fresh juices and healthy shots, mindfulness and activities programmes and all the staff have a greater understanding of wellness to pass on to the guests. All the elements needed to help foster a greater sense of total “Well-being”.
In 2014 The spa went on to win World Travel Awards for the leading spa in Jamaica and the hotel won leading hotel in Jamaica. That’s another news story... In 2015 I was able to complete 2 other critical elements from my original vision for Rockhouse; the Bathhouse – a heavenly couples outdoor bathing ritual in the new garden spa hideaway and, for a second consecutive year, we won Leading Spa in Jamaica and Rockhouse won Leading Boutique Hotel in the Caribbean.
To me, 2014 will always be marked as a year of great personal accomplishments. I achieved the realisation of a long held dream, and as such, I take great pride in knowing that many people have been able to benefit from this incredible programme as they enjoy time out of their busy lives to relax, detoxify, rebalance and rejuvenate the senses, helping to bring total wellbeing to mind, body, and spirit.
And the best thing, I am so passionate about this programme and believe whole-heartedly in the concept and ethos behind it that I am looking for new hotels in which to implement it in. So what are you waiting for - get in touch!!
#lovewhatyoudo #anythingispossible #dreambig #beinthemoment #beinspired #believe