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Christi Cano is the President & Founder of Innovative Spa Productions, a Company which provides spa consulting and development services.  With 18 years in the hospitality and spa industries, she has extensive experience as a Consultant, Spa Director, Trainer, Product Vendor, and Massage Therapist.  

Having worked at five-star resorts both in the U.S. and Internationally, her “hands-on” philosophy provides an operational viewpoint that leads to sound decisions and advice for spa businesses.  She has been a member of the International Spa Association’s Education Committee and is a frequent speaker and published writer. Ms. Cano has a B.A. from Texas A&M University.

I love spas – developing spas, working with the staff, opening spas, training, being a spa consumer, finding solutions to all those unique issues and all the little details and funny stories that go with it along the way.  Even during the frenzy and sleep-deprived days before a big opening, I absolutely love my job. 
Here’s one of the reasons; A couple years ago a close friend was re-evaluating a few things in her life including giving up a career and becoming a wife and mother.  During an afternoon walk, she asked if I felt if the work I did made a difference in people’s lives. 

The answer went something like this…”Of course what I do makes a difference.  Helping people do their jobs better or working with them to create a successful business, the way I see it, exponentially there is the ability to touch thousands of people in a positive way.  By developing spas that employ many talented people that provide services and creating an environment that supports their work, quite an impact can happen not just for them but also for every one of their guests.” I then went on to say that her job and responsibility as a mother is way more important than any other job I can think of.

In 1990, I joined Hyatt Resorts Hawaii.  Through the years, I opened Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spas and Grand Hyatt Wailea and also worked at Hyatt’s in Waikiki and Waikoloa on the Big Island.  Spending the most time as Concierge Manager proved to be great training ground for a transition into Spa.  It’s all about giving great service.  The difference is that in one department guests are fully clothed and at the other they are, well, not.

My first spa job was in 1997 and it was to get Spa Ojai opened.  There was a huge learning curve in a short period of time.  Though there were many big achievements, the most satisfying was when my Dad (the career military man) enjoyed his first (ever in his life) spa visit.  His words during an attempted escape from the locker room were, “Those men in there are nekked.”  Later, a massage and facial transformed him into a full fledged convert muttering, “What treatments (plural) am I getting tomorrow?”

I later moved home to care for him during an illness and he was the first person to receive a massage on my portable table while I attended massage school.  

Realizing the importance of vendor relationships and the support they provide to spas, I worked for Jurlique, an International Skin Care Company to learn that part of the Industry.  As a Trainer and Sales Rep, I helped clients refine their operations, retail and purchasing as a
vendor but from the perspective of a Spa Director.

Re-connecting with Sylvia Sepielli, the brilliant Spa Consultant from Spa Ojai, led to assisting with post-opening operations consulting and training at Pangkor Laut Resort in Malaysia.  The bonus was being able to perform massages and facials for guests alongside the staff and learning that things are done much different internationally.

Back in the U.S., it was time to develop and open another California spa - The Laguna Cliffs Marriott in Dana Point.  The laid-back atmosphere lent itself to a casual beach side concept that perfectly fit the environment.  This would be completely different from the next project just around the corner.

Wynn Las Vegas proved to be everything $2.7 billion could buy and a vastly different scale from what most Directors and Consultants were used to.  Over 5000 spa and salon applicants competed for 200+ positions.  Interviews alone accounted for several months of work.  In addition to the Spa, a full Salon, Fitness Center, in-villa massage rooms and poolside cabanas were in development.  Creating a luxury product and brand was paramount.  Cost was not an issue.  It opened on time.  If this wasn’t enough, simultaneously we worked on the design of the spa at Wynn Macau in China which included trips to Thailand, Hong Kong and Macau. 

Years o
f development, opening and operations experience finally led to consulting.  In 2005 I joined Creative Spa Concepts as Vice President of Spa Development.   This provided consulting and development work throughout the U.S. in a variety of spa categories including hotel, resort, casino, day, fitness, residential and the up-and-coming category of senior living.  Providing guidance to product vendors as well as spa management and staff training was a natural addition to the work.  I’m happy to still be working with the CSC team on projects that I’ve come to love and am excited to see open and succeed.

I spend my time (while not in airports) living in Las Vegas and Kauai.  Yes, those are two of the most opposite places you can imagine.  I love them both for different reasons.  Years of talking about balance in life led to creating Innovative Spa Productions.