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SpaFinder President Susie Ellis talks to Indulge

From a massage to a facial to a scrub, most of us go to a spa to relax from a hard days’ work, but for spa tester Susan Ellis that is where the workday starts. Ellis has been reviewing spas for 20+ years and is known in the industry as a leading expert on spa services and quality. Ellis is also president of SpaFinder, a comprehensive source of information on spa deals, spa getaways, medical spas and day spas. Conde Nast Portfolio’s job of the week section called her job ‘one long day at the spa’ and she told Indulge about what that long ... often luxurious ... day entails.

Indulge: How do you choose which spas you will review?

Generally, I visit and evaluate spas in the global region I'm currently traveling in - because of diverse business that takes me there in my role as president of SpaFinder. For example, when I did a media tour in Phoenix on our annual spa trends report, I took the opportunity to visit seven spas in that spa mecca, and then wrote about a couple that I found to be extra special. Or, when I recently attended a Spa Council meeting in Phuket, Thailand, I explored/tested several of the incredible spas in that region - including a sneak peek at the soon-to-be opened Six Senses Destination Spa, which promises to be absolutely extraordinary on so many levels including design, cuisine, wellness, its embedded eco-conscious practices, and medical and fitness offerings.

And of course, our many experts here at SpaFinder are constantly visiting, evaluating and reporting on spas -I'm just one member of that team.

The spa industry has been growing at such an extraordinary pace over this last decade (recent industry research shows there are now 71,000+ spas across the globe), and there's increasingly so much creativity and innovation in design, health and wellness offerings, treatments, that I always have a large list of 'must visit' spas. And, after all my many years in the spa world, I really remain a humble 'student' of the spa industry - always excited about new offerings, emerging trends and what's unfolding across the globe.

Indulge: What would you say was one of your most indulgent treatments?

There have been many memorable and transformative experiences ... but I would say my stay with my husband at the Four Seasons Spa on the Rocks in Bali. We had a very special spa suite right on the rocks overlooking the ocean, with 280-degree views, replete with in-suite massages, scrub tub, chocolates and champagne. In our tub, there were petals from 500 roses floating ...

Indulge: What advice would you give to a person visiting a spa for their first time?

For first-timers I would recommend telling the spa staff this is your very first spa experience, and ask them for a spa tour and an educational overview of offerings and their benefits. And, even if you're a more experienced spa-goer, you will probably want to explore new treatments and offerings, which makes it a 'first time' for most people.

At SpaFinder.com, we try to offer comprehensive spa information for all levels of spa-goer, from the first-timer to the seasoned pro. People may want to first check out our ‘Learn About Spas' section on our homepage. You can introduce yourself to treatment information, get spa advice, search for deals, learn about spa etiquette and what to expect at different categories of spa, search in great detail for spas by type, etc. It's one good primer for the newcomer to the world of spa.

Indulge: Do you have a favorite treatment?

My favorite treatment is a 90-minute deep tissue massage (by an expert, well-trained therapist), with the music very low or in absolute silence.

Indulge: What are some of the ups and downs of your job?

One of the wonderful benefits of my job is that it's very good for my health ... both physically and mentally. By being immersed in the spa world, not only do I have regular massages and facials, but I've incorporated overall fitness, exercise, and nutrition wisdom into my life. Spas are increasingly about total wellness, rather than mere pampering ... which can really be transforming, and sustain a balanced and healthy life. I'm also far more in touch with my more strictly 'medical health' through medical testing and evaluation at medical spas.

Of course, being president of a big, growing company is hard work, and traveling all over the world so frequently can be draining. But I just wouldn't cite any real 'downs' in my work.

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“SpaFinder President Susie Ellis talks to Indulge”