Located in Islamorada in the Florida Keys, Cheeca Lodge and Spa is set on a 27-acre private estate overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The cornerstone of the property is The Spa at Cheeca Lodge, which features seven treatment rooms. Dianna Thomsen, who has more than 13 years of experience working at spas in properties such as the Hilton Santa Fe North at Buffalo Thunder in Santa Fe, NM, and the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Biloxi in Biloxi, MS, was recently named director, spa & retail at the resort. Hotel Business connected with Thomsen to discuss her new role and the spa offerings at the property.
Why did you choose Cheeca Lodge & Spa as the latest stop in your career? I actually chose Cheeca Lodge and Spa as a location to work early on in my spa career. I had just begun my journey in the spa industry when I started looking at opportunities available for me once I had more experience. The Florida Keys were in that search due to a recent visit to the area. I came across Cheeca Lodge and Spa, studied its website and read the reviews of this beautiful property. It was exactly what I wanted to strive for. Over the next several years, when I was ready for a move, I would check Cheeca’s career site to see if the spa director position was open. It took 13 years in the industry for my path and Cheeca’s availability to mesh.
How will your experience at other properties help you in your new position? I like to think that my career has been built little by little by the past properties I have been blessed to manage. Though each property has been unique, there are certain operational aspects that I took from each and applied to the next location. When I start at a new property, I look at the operation as it is, watch how it is run and take from the previous properties’ certain aspects, whether operationally or through services I have offered that would improve or enhance what is currently in place.
How did your education in holistic nutrition help you decide on your career path? I have always been interested in how the body, mind and spirit influence your health. Once I started receiving regular massages, I saw, within myself, the benefits my body and mind had after each treatment—more clarity in my thinking and aches and pains having been relieved. Knowing that our environment greatly influenced our health, I started studying holistic nutrition to inform myself on which foods/supplements would help combat these toxins. The longer I have been in the industry, the more I pull from my education. COVID hit us all hard in some form. Now, more than ever, it is so important for our health to put wellness at the forefront of spa. Massage, supplements, aromatherapy and fitness all relate to a comprehensive spa experience. I am fortunate to have all of these at my disposal at the Cheeca spa.
Please tell us about the spa and its treatment rooms. The Spa at Cheeca Lodge is quite lovely. It sits in a standalone building among tropical foliage, an outdoor adult pool surrounded by cabanas, an outdoor bar and our fitness center. It features seven treatment rooms; a coed lounge; and men’s and women’s locker rooms equipped with lockers, showers and steam rooms. Unlike many spas, Cheeca plays on the spectacular light of the surrounding area decorated in pastel colors and windows in every room. It’s a respite from the tropical heat.
What services are offered at The Spa at Cheeca Lodge? We offer over 30 massages, facials, scrubs and wraps. Our most popular are the Ultimate Aromatherapy Experience, which is our Swedish massage that includes aromatherapy, and our Intense Muscle Release, our deep tissue massage. Many of our treatments are performed as a ritual, and we take great care in making each treatment unique. The talent we have here is amazing, and they truly bring their spirit to each service so that all receive an amazing experience. An added bonus, we have a fitness studio for guest use, offer water aerobics twice a week and have yoga on the beach daily. Our sunrise yoga is a glorious way to start your day in balance.
Are there any new services/treatments that you’ve brought to The Spa? I love developing new services and treatments. I am currently in the process of bringing massage services to a gazebo on the beach for our guests of The Casitas at Cheeca Lodge, where you can relax with a massage as the Atlantic Ocean laps the shore and a gentle warm breeze glides by. I am also in the process of a new deluxe treatment at the spa to bring harmony between the mind and the body that is designed to coincide with the cycles of the moon and focuses on how to become more present, aware and intentional in your life. It’s a service to help serve you once you leave our sanctuary.