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15 Questions

Ah, Spa… 15 Questions for Kim DeOrsey

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By Zandra Wolfgram


Does spending your day lounging in a spa sanctuary in the heart of a luxury hotel sound like a dream job to you? We sat down with one of the country’s most sought after spa experts to get to know her, hear all about the new Salamander Spa at the Henderson in Destin, and…discover the secret to youth.


Well, we can’t tell you everything, but here are 15 things we can share from our time spent with knowledgeable, kinetic and kindhearted Kim DeOrsey.


1. You are a powerhouse in the spa industry, and we are fortunate to have you here on the Emerald Coast. What are some highlights of your career?

PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, because it set the stage for other resort spas. The Club at Ibis in West Palm Beach, which was a $33 million capital project that brought wellness into a residential spa, and then at the Omphoy Ocean Resort & Spa in Palm Beach, which only had three treatment rooms, but was voted No. 1 Resort Spa in the United States by Condé Nast Traveler magazine.


2. You moved here for this job. How do you like Destin so far?

I love the family-friendly aspect of the Destin community. As a mom of three kids, it’s been nice and rewarding for all of us. My son Remington is eight and he has been traveling the South for soccer and lacrosse. My daughter Elle is 10 and she has already danced a solo in one recital that took her to Mississippi. My son Tyler is college age, and we’ve been able to get out on the water boating. So the sports and arts, in particular, have been wonderful and my kids are thriving.


3. What drew you to the health and wellness field?

I was always drawn to health and wellness, especially nutrition and working out since I was in high school. At 15, I was teaching gymnastics to little kids. So, taking care of yourself and being mindful was important to me at a fairly young age.


4. Did you grow up in a healthy household?

Yes, my grandmother Irene lived to be 103, and not long before she passed away she was still playing tennis and doing Yoga. She never mixed proteins and carbs and ate lots of fruits. She always took good care of her skin. She took me to Lancome store for makeup and taught me how to take care of my skin.


5. You are of the belief that wellness is a lifestyle. How so?

It’s definitely a lifestyle. When my kids were young, it was just a part of how we lived. If they were upset, it was me telling them “use your breathing.” Now my kids are into activities and athletics, so they have grown up understanding how important it is to balance the body with sleep, eating healthy, and not over scheduling.


6. How do you incorporate your wellness philosophy at Salamander Spa?

We have developed an entire wellness program that begins with our sleeping rooms. We created a wellness crate that contains everything you need to enjoy the spa and fitness center including a wellness mat. Instead of chips and sweets, we have a wellbeing bar. You can do an eye mask, a soak in the tub or enjoy a nourishing spirulina exfoliating mask. We even have a journal so you can reflect and write down your thoughts and relax your mind. You’ve heard of a Wake Up call, we have a Turn Down call. We call our guests with a gentle reminder to unplug, detach and focus on themselves for a good night’s rest.


7. What are some current wellness trends you are embracing at Salamander?

One is just slowing down and being mindful to not be so rushed. Another is education, which comes in the format of wellness workshops. We have wellness cards for our guest to take home that include a recipe with a Salamander Spa ingredient. For example, we have one for Lavender Truffles. It’s a chocolate truffle made with lavender and food grade-sea salt. Another big trend is getting outside more, so when you have a spa appointment we’ll encourage you to enjoy a bike ride or paddle boarding as part of your time at the Henderson.


8. What is the Salamander sound bowl all about?

Music is a tool to use to relax, and we’re incorporating sound therapy as well. Here at Salamander, we embrace the spa experience upon arrival. We have a hammered metal bowl with a soft mallet, we ding it and guest hover over it and feel that vibration. It’s a singing bowl and it’s quite powerful for some. It’s important to us that our guests begin their wellness experience prior to even going into the treatment room.


9. What’s the most popular spa treatment?

The aromatherapy massage. You get to customize it by choosing between lavender, neroli or ginger. The fragrance you are drawn to is what your body needs the most.


10. Why should we “ask the experts”?

People are always looking to take care of themselves and there are so many things to use. Some work and some don’t. As a professional and as a world-class resort, we align with providers who are educated and best in class. We search out what our clients and guests should spend their money on, educate them on the trends, and customize regimens that work for them and their skin.


11. Tell us how to make the most of our time at the spa.

When you schedule, break up your services so they are not back-to-back. Arrive early, have a cup of tea and unwind. Come prepared to enjoy the wet area. We have a whirlpool, a steam room and an experiential shower with three cycles—tropical rainforest, arctic blast and detoxifying. And leave plenty of time for the pool and beach…your mind needs time to unwind and embrace what just happened.


12. You are a professional in a busy hotel and a single mother of three. What’s your secret?

You just have to make it happen. Today, I got up at 5 a.m. and hit the gym. I try to do that three mornings a week. With my kids, it’s getting up and going outside for a hike. I work, but we have dinner as a family. I fit it in.


13. What is your advice to make this year the best year yet?

I want everyone to get out there with their families to ride a bike, and enjoy what the Emerald Coast has to offer. Put your feet in the sand more and be more playful.


14. What’s unique to the Henderson Salamander Spa?

We have specially equipped spa guest rooms, a Gulf view, and a bank of elevators that takes our guests from the guest rooms right to the spa.


15. What does the Salamander signify?

It’s so inspirational. Our name stands for beauty, strength and courage, and that is something each of wish we had each and every day. So it’s also about each of our personal stories. Every day we strive for that, and we’re here to help everyone be the best that they can be.

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