Blanca Albor is the spa director at Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa.
Can you please briefly tell us about your background?
I was born in the United States and raised in Colombia, South America, which made for a wonderful childhood full of travel around Central and South America. For three years, we lived on the lesser known island of San Andres, and then returned to the States when I was 11 years old. At the time, I spoke no English and am still proud that I was able to participate in my school’s spelling bee just six months later. On my 16th birthday, I applied for the locker room attendant position at the famous Fontainebleau Hilton in Miami Beach, Florida, as it was the most prestigious employer around town. Little did I know, this role would serve as the start of my career in the spa industry. My fascination with health and beauty fueled my interest in the field. I am blessed to have had the opportunities to work at such four and five-star properties as Doral Golf Resort & Spa in Miami, The Greenbrier in West Virginia and Acqualina Resort & Spa in Sunny Isles, Florida.
What are your primary roles and responsibilities in your job?
From the very start of my career, I always veered into the operations and management side of the spa industry. Currently, I am responsible for a team of 55 associates. I run the daily operations of a full-service spa, Sawgrass Spa, which means overseeing and managing the salon, massage, esthetics, pool, fitness and food and beverage all in one department. Specific responsibilities include marketing, coordinating staff schedules, overseeing the budget, interviewing and hiring new team members, maintaining inventory in retail and operational amenities, ensuring a safe workplace, taking care of guests, participating in corporate initiatives and attending industry conferences.
What’s the most rewarding part of your work?
The most rewarding part of my work is being able to create memorable experiences for our guests. There is nothing more precious and rewarding than knowing we made an impact in someone’s day or even their life. A lot of our guests come to the spa because they are celebrating a special occasion, but sometimes they visit because they are grieving and know we’re able to help them feel better physically and mentally. Regardless of the reason, we want them to feel comfortable and to have fun. After all, that’s our industry’s ultimate mission. The spa is not a luxury anymore, it’s a necessity. We need to set aside time to take care of ourselves and our loved ones by giving ourselves the joy of time and relaxation, which we seldom do.
For someone who has never visited a spa like yours, what would you say? What makes the experience so worthwhile?
Why haven’t you visited us yet?! We have an amazing facility surrounded by 63 acres of winding lagoons, moss-draped water oaks, twisted palms and giant magnolias. It’s beautiful and the perfect setting for promoting relaxation and serenity. Our licensed and experienced service providers will take you through a peaceful and harmonious journey with your service of choice. Or you can take our advice and start with a custom massage that blends Swedish deep tissue; foot reflexology and the warmth of the hot stone placement modalities, followed by a custom facial that is tailored to your skin’s needs. Then continue your spa day with a manicure and pedicure that’s capped off with a glass of Champagne and lunch served poolside.
What are some of the most popular treatments and/or trends in the spa industry for 2019?
Because CBD really gained traction with the public in 2018, I think 2019 is its year to really explode into the market. In addition to seeing more edible options, I think spa treatments utilizing CBD products will become much more prevalent.
What do you enjoy most about working and living in this area?
Here at Ponte Vedra Beach, I love that I’m only a quick drive away from a beautiful ocean view. While driving down A1A among the trees and greenery, I can’t help but feel calmer and more appreciative of my surroundings. The area itself is peaceful, clean, full of good people and a great place to raise children.
What do you like to do in your free time?
First and foremost, I spend my free time with my family. I take every opportunity to travel to South Florida where my family lives, and we fly my in-laws from Colombia to Florida each year to spend a few months with us. I also enjoy jogging in the morning with my two terriers, Anastasia and Aristotle, and watching soccer and golf with my husband. We make a point to go to at least one happy hour a month with just the two of us.