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The Wellness Questionnaire With Jeannette Handson, Spa Director of Ocean Crest Spa

Discover how this spa director de-stresses and maintains her personal wellbeing

Growing up in Ecuador, Jeannette Handson had access to some of the richest bio and cultural diversity in the world, learning firsthand from her grandmother’s garden how to use natural resources for healing ingredients. Following travels to England and Brazil, she studied hotel management and during an internship at a local resort, she was asked to step into a spa role. This propelled her into the spa industry, mixing her passion for natural wellness with expert wellness and beauty industry knowledge. Following 17 years as spa director for L’Auberge Del Mar (CA), Handson joined Ocean Crest Spa at Cape Rey Carlsbad Beach (CA), where she oversees day-to-day operations and the development of innovative spa treatments. Here, she shares the fitness activity that helps her thrive.

What does wellness mean to you? 

Wellness is term that is so ambiguous that it can mean something different to many people and cultures. If we asked a group of people what wellness means to them, the answers will surely vary. Wellness for me is a lifestyle, a conscious choice that focuses on attaining mental, physical, and spiritual health and wellbeing.

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

I strive to surround myself with positive people, because I thrive off the energy of others, especially when there is a palpable feeling of love and enthusiasm. For me, personal wellbeing requires meaningful conversations and being able to express myself freely, whether laughing or crying together. Sometimes, this is easiest over a meal together.  

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

Reflection is an important element of my wellness values in life. One of my favorite activities that I continually turn to is nature walks. I love being outside and this type of fitness activity allows me time for solace, meditation, purification, and restoration.

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

Not surprisingly, I thoroughly enjoy food that is organic and practice farm-to-table food preparation as much as possible. I love soups. It is an easy way to pack in a lot of nutrient-dense ingredients in one meal. My go-to recipe includes many different variations of lentil soup. 

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

I have a busy lifestyle, and this requires me to be thoughtful about how I consume beverages, which means I do a lot of juicing. My favorite juicing recipe is carrot with ginger and orange juice. I do make different variations where carrot is the main ingredient, and then I add beets and apples. The key is to drink it fresh within 10 minutes of preparation.

What person in wellness do you most admire and why? 

Barbara O’Neill.  She is an author, educator, naturopath, and nutritionist, as well as an international speaker on natural healing. Barbara is a specialist in women and children’s health, and she is passionate about health and wellness. She believes in giving the body optimum conditions for it to heal itself.

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

The best piece of wellness advice came from my grandmother, an artistic woman of strong faith who was a humble humanitarian and full of joy. She would start by telling me to build a personal and intimate relationship with our maker. To get to know him by the reading of his words and by putting into action his teachings by having a grateful and forgiving heart (spiritual wellbeing). Then she would say to feed my mind with good and positive things, and not to allow any form of negativism. She would tell me to stimulate my brain by acquiring, expanding, and using knowledge and put it to all good works (intellectual wellness). She would tell me to look at myself in the mirror and see that I am the masterpiece of a wonderful creator. That I am precious and worthy in his eyes; therefore, go through life with enthusiasm, joy, and determination. She would work with me through my emotional outbursts and in a gentle and almost whispering voice would say, “Control your emotions and use them in a healthy way” (emotional wellness). She would say: “Go out to the garden, take a deep breath, be happy, and run until you can run no more, and when you come back, I will feed your body with loving and healing foods.” She was teaching me in her own way to take care of my physical body (physical wellness). Finally, she always encouraged me to pick my friendships wisely. She would tell me to stay still, be observant, and be a good listener. She taught me to be humble, compassionate, and sympathetic. She taught me to care for everyone, especially those in all sorts of despair (social wellness).

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

There are hundreds of wellness innovations in the market. I believe that mental wellness tools should be easily accessible to everyone. For that reason, I find that meditation and mindfulness apps offer effective tools to meditate and de-stress without breaking the bank. 

What do you think is the most overused word or words in wellness? 

Ironically, wellness is one the most overused words, and at times a misused word. 

What is your go-to for de-stressing? 

To go to a place where I can quietly listen to the sounds of nature and take the time to breathe and reflect and let go.

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

My sleep.

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

Self-heal by Design: The Role of Micro-organisms For Health by Barbara O’Neill and titles by Dr. Ludwig Johnson. I find their books are easy to read and their protocols are easy to follow.

About The Author

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,,,, and, in addition to various custom publications. She is frequently called upon to comment on various spa and wellness trends for various media outlets.