The latest appointments in the spa industry

European Spa speaks to Ashley Freeman of Rockliffe Hall, Helen Cain of OTO CBD, The Massage Company's Davina Hassell and Jill Carlen of Living Earth Crafts about their spa industry career progression


By Wendy Golledge

27 February 2023

It’s an exciting start to the year for the UK spa and wellness industry. A host of new appointment stories have landed on the European Spa news desk in the last few weeks, showing the industry is very much on the move.

We spoke to the key new appointments about their focus for the year, future growth plans and development opportunities.

Ashley Freeman, spa director at Rockliffe Hall

Now sitting as part of the Executive Team for the Rockliffe Hall resort, Ashley Freeman has been promoted to spa director.

“I have grown up within the spa industry, my first role was a weekend spa butler at Rockliffe Hall aged 16!” she says. “I have worked my way up, taking the spa manager role in 2022 and now my new role as spa director.”

Ashley Freeman
Ashley Freeman, spa director at Rockliffe Hall

Freeman will help move the business forward whilst maintaining high standards and driving innovation.

“Ashley is a shining light in the spa industry,” says Rockcliffe Hall managing Director Jason Adams.

“Following her promotion to spa manager last year we saw the spa thrive, with record revenues and a huge increase in membership numbers, so the decision was made to further promote her.”

The spa at Rockliffe Hall resort
The Spa at Rockliffe Hall has a spa garden with infinity-edge hydrotherapy pool plus a tepidarium, igloo, infra-red sauna and tropicarium

“In the first six months I’m looking to drive high spa and gym member retention rates through our renewal season. We have just invested in our gym studio and modified the gym space, which is key to our retention strategy,” says Freeman.

“I want to ensure we are moving with the times in relation to trends, understanding consumer behaviours, and team members’ wants and needs.”

Helen Cain, global director of spa, OTO CBD

OTO tempted me to make the move from operator to supplier with its amazing scientific background in product development,” says Cain. “I had been working in operations for my entire career but wanted to be a key player in bringing CBD into the spa space.”

Helen Cain, global director of spa, OTO CBD

Cain began working in wellness as a Virgin Atlantic First inflight beauty therapist, working her way up to beauty performance manager over 14 years. After 10 years working on Necker Island as group spa manager for Sir Richard Branson’s portfolio of luxury properties, Cain moved to Harbour Hotel group for two years as the group spa director.

OTO CBD products are on the menu at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park

“I think having experience as an operator means I’m able to think about development and the all-important costs from a different perspective,” she says. “I’m excited about the amazing treatment launches OTO has coming up this year.

“OTO CBD are about to launch into the UAE with a distributor and have also started growing green shoots in the USA.”

Davina Hassell, centre manager, The Massage Company Altrincham

With more than 30 years’ experience in the beauty and spa industries, Davina Hassell has joined the team at The Massage Company.

She will be centre manager at the chain’s new Altrincham site when it opens in March.

Having previously worked as a therapist on cruise liners, and in Qatar, Dubai and India for companies including Marriott and ITC Group, Hassell returned to the UK to work with Seaham Hall as spa director and Lodore Falls as pre-opening manager.

Davina Hassell, Altrincham centre manager, TMC
Davina Hassell, centre manager, The Massage Company Altrincham

“My new role will see me managing a team of massage therapists to bring high quality massage to the mainstream,” she says. “My focus will be on recruitment, continual training and ensuring that standards are always high.

“I will be working to provide the company with the maximum commercial opportunities on both revenues, with membership sales and upgrades, and yield management of the team.

“For me, positivity is key. I want my new team to feel supported, so customers are always provided with professional service.”

The Altrincham site will have 12 treatment rooms and be open seven days a week from 9 am to 9 pm.

The Massage Company is driven by a mission to bring health and wellbeing to the local community and foster a pro-active approach to health by bringing regular massage treatments to the mainstream.

Jill Carlen, vice-president of business development, Living Earth Crafts (LEC)

Bringing with her more than 20 years of leadership experience in the spa, wellness and hospitality industries, Jill Carlen will be responsible for creating unique business solutions for LEC’s spa and wellness clients.

Jill Carlen

"There’s nothing like partnering with industry leaders and creating something magical together.”

Jill Carlen

Vice president of business development, Living Earth Crafts

With a career spanning operations, spa and business development, and new openings for brands including Ritz-Carlton, Hilton and L’Occitane, Carlen will be responsible for business development in Earthlite’s growing LEC Division.

Century City - Marriott Opelika
Living Earth Craft's treatment beds in situ at Century City Marriott Opelika

“I am a big picture person, so I hope to include lots of creative thinking and exploring new opportunities for our amazing products,” Carlen says. “My focus in my first months will be to get to know our clients and strengthen relationships. I’m also focused on supporting our brand exposure and ensuring the highest level of service for our partners.”

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