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The Wellness Questionnaire with Dawn Spann, Spa and Wellness Director at Charleston Place

Discover how this spa director maintains balance in her life and who she admires most in the wellness industry

With more than two decades of experience in the spa and wellness industry, including nearly 10 years with Suncadia Resort (Cle Elum, WA), Dawn Spann recently joined The Spa at Charleston Place (SC) as director of spa operations. In her new role, she will oversee the spa’s new menu of holistic therapeutic practices and signature experiences as well as day-to-day operations, including the management of its 10 treatment rooms, serene relaxation lounge, sauna, steam room, and overall guest experience. She recently launched a new spa menu utilizing products from Linné, Hydrafacial, Intraceuticals, Skinceuticals, and more.

Previously, Spann served as the director of spa & wellness at Wild Dunes Resort (SC) where she helped launch the spa. She has also contributed to the development of design concepts and spa and wellness programs for Mii Amo (Sedona, AZ), Release Well-Being Center (Westborough, MA), and The Spa at Cliff House Resort (Cape Neddick, ME). Here, she shares how she maintains her own personal wellbeing and what she considers to be her greatest wellness accomplishment.

What does wellness mean to you?

I believe wellness is a personal journey for every individual. At different stages of your life, wellness is totally different. To me, wellness is, of course, the practicing of healthy habits with the goal of attaining better health outcomes. But more than anything, it is ever-changing and adaptable, depending on what phase of life you are in.

What are your favorite things to do to maintain your personal wellbeing?

I cook! I love to research and plan my weekly menu with recipes that enhance wellbeing both physically and mentally. I enjoy exploring food of the world or focusing on local ingredients. Sustainability is an important part of my planning, too.

Is there a specific fitness activity that you love and why?

I love walking my pup on the beach and then setting up a beach chair and enjoying a good book. That is my perfect day. It’s such a joy to live near the ocean, and I find that saltwater air is my healing source. I feel time is so important to give to ourselves and walking by the water is one way I do that. I also love to sweat on my Peloton.

What is your favorite healthy food, and do you have a favorite way of preparing it?

I’m all about a salad with some crunch! One of my favorites is a with cucumber, celery, apricots, and pistachios. I peel and scoop out the seeds from a few cucumbers, thinly cut them crosswise, add salt, and let them sit in a colander for 20 minutes. Then I cut up four stalks of celery on angle and smash some garlic. In a medium bowl, I add a half cup of dried apricots, red wine vinegar, dried chili flakes, and extra virgin olive oil in the bowl. I mix the ingredients and let them sit for about 10 minutes, allowing the apricots to plump. Then, I discard the garlic before combining the apricot mixture with the chopped celery and cucumbers along with a handful of pistachios, some smashed garlic, mint, parsley, basil, and celery leaves. Finally, I mix it all and adjust seasoning accordingly. I then serve it right away.

What is your favorite healthy beverage (alcoholic or non-alcoholic), and do you have any insider tips for preparing it?

I love to cold press juice. My favorite is a classic green juice with celery, cucumber, ginger, kale or chard, lemon, and a bit of apple. What I love most is if I don’t have the exact ingredients, I just use whatever is left over in my fridge.

What is your greatest wellness achievement?

I’m always honored to be a contributor in someone’s growth journey. This could be from learning new cooking techniques together or supporting a career growth within the wellness industry. Being a part of someone finding their true passion is most rewarding for me.

What person in wellness do you most admire and why?

I really admire Maggy Dunphy, the founder of three33 consulting and president of the Green Spa Network. She has been the person I’ve reached out to time and time again from my early days as a spa manager to collaborating on spa leadership summits, spa design, and new spa builds. We also chat through all the new innovative trends we are continually seeing in our industry. Maggy is a lifelong student and continues to evolve and challenge herself and the people around her to never stop asking questions.

What is the best piece of wellness advice you have ever received and from whom?

“You never know what people are going through, hold space and be kind,” says David Wagner, author of Life as a Daymaker: How to Change the World by Simply Making Someone’s Day.

What do you think is the most exciting wellness innovation you have recently discovered?

I think that advancements in health technology are fascinating. The idea of incorporating AI to get an understanding of an individual’s internal health state, so we can make lifestyle and nutrition choices, is exciting to me.

What is your idea of balanced healthy happiness?

It starts with being kind to yourself. My ideal balance is restful sleep, hydration, sun (with sunscreen every day!), healthy food choices, and surrounding yourself with love.

Do you have a secret health or wellness tip you would like to share?

It’s simple, my best wellness tip is to breathe. Our breath is so powerful. It’s a tool everyone has, and best of all, it’s free.

What is your favorite place for a healthy vacation or escape?

I love anywhere with saltwater and fresh local food. I’m exploring Portugal later this year, and I  am looking forward to experiencing its beaches and local cuisine.

What is your favorite self-care routine?

I love soaking, bathing, and all things hydrotherapy.

What is your go-to for de-stressing?

Sometimes you just need a good sweat! I love to ride my Peloton and sweat out and let go of what I can’t control.

What aspect of your wellbeing do you struggle with the most, or would most like to improve?

I think I struggle most with time. I continue to have a hard time with all the demands I have in my life and am always striving make time for myself more of a priority, knowing it will support me in so many more ways. In that same vein, I struggle with technology usage, like most people these days. I’m seeking to mindfully let go of technology daily.

What wellness-related books or authors do you recommend, and why?

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruis is a fantastic read that can transform your outlook on life through a few agreements.

How do you celebrate small victories?

I love to celebrate by talking about them with peers and loved ones.

What brings you joy?

I get the most joy from spending time with the people I love. It’s truly the best gift and medicine for the soul.

About The Author
Heather-Mikesell-author-1

Heather, co-founder of Well Defined and the former editor-in-chief of American Spa, is an award-winning journalist and content strategist, skilled in writing, copyediting, and media relations. She is also a freelance writer and has contributed to Elite Traveler, Islands, Kiwi, Luxury Travel Advisor, Organic Spa, Porthole Cruise, Travel Agent, abcnews.com, jetsetter.com, outside.com, and wellandgood.com, in addition to various custom publications. She is frequently called upon to comment on various spa and wellness trends for various media outlets.