Hayfield Manor’s Rachel O’Malley wins at Irish Tatler Spa Awards 2019

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spa therapist

You may remember a year ago when Rachel O’Malley won best spa therapist at the Irish Tatler Spa Awards. Well this year she’s done it again, winning in the ‘best for customisation’ category at the 2019 awards.

The Irish Tatler Spa Awards are an annual event celebrating the best spa experiences in Ireland. This year, the 10th annual awards, in association with Kerstin Florian, were held on 23rd September, and Ireland’s much-decorated spa industry gathered together to celebrate excellence in Irish spa services and treatments. 

“As a judge on the spa awards for over eight years, one thing we really observed in the industry this year is a conscientious nod towards positive mental health. We know that while everyone loves a gold standard facial, a top notch massage, or a therapist who goes above and beyond, what is of equal importance to the discerning customer today is that simple moment of me time - akin to picking up a magazine - where the spa visit transcends a well-executed treatment to become a truly holistic experience.”

Sarah Macken, Editor of Irish Tatler Magazine

award winning spa

That emphasis on a holistic approach is at the hear of what has made Rachel a multi award-winning therapist. The Beautique Spa at Hayfield Manor is widely recognised for its luxury spa and hospitality experiences, but what really separates the spa is the personal passion of their spa therapists, of which Rachel is a shining example.

This year, the best therapist award was divided into sub categories as the judges felt they had come across so many therapists that they wanted to recognise. Rachel’s award was for her individual approach, customising treatments to client needs. An entirely fitting award for someone who pours personal passion into the treatments she delivers.

So what does she do to customise her treatments so beautifully?

“The biggest thing for me is doing a thorough consultation. Most people go for a treatment for stress relief and relaxation, but stress manifests so differently for different people. Usually when you talk to people, they give you information without realising it, just though having a chat. Sometimes they are aware of where they hold stress in their body, and sometimes they aren’t, and of course you discover that more through the treatment itself. For me though, it’s more about listening to the information a client is giving you. Over the years I have used methods to manage my own stress and anxiety in difficult times as well, and I am a firm believer in importance of that.”


Creating a customised treatment

Rachel is quick to credit the team she works with and the ethos at Hayfield Manor for the support she’s given to customise treatments and be passionate about her work. As a case in point, in the last year, she and her colleagues have all been given the opportunity to design their own signature treatment in line with their strengths, experiences and the treatments they enjoy giving.

In Rachel’s case, she has created a two-hour Wellness Ritual. It starts with a customised back of the body massage and then moves on to an aromatherapy face massage. Then there’s a frangipani hair and scalp treatment, followed by reflexology and scrub to the feet.

The main goal of the treatment is relaxation, but the components have been chosen by Rachel in relation to stress patterns she has noticed in her clients. The feet are often neglected but tend to be a place a lot of us hold tension. The lower back also comes under stress from commuting for long periods of time and sitting at desks, and many of us carry tiredness and tension in the face and head from being on computers and phones all day.

“They’re also the treatments I enjoy having as well,” says Rachel, continuing: “obviously within that framework, the treatment is then customised to the individual as well.”

The initiative is a key example of how Hayfield Manor supports its spa team and makes sure they are delivering treatments they feel passionate about, as well as feeling appreciated in the work that they do.


Purpose and fulfilment

So, another year down and another award to show for it, but what is it that Rachel and her team enjoy about what they do?

“It’s that sense of fulfilment that you get knowing you’re genuinely helping someone in a way they might not even know they need. We use the word ‘stress’ so much, but I don’t think we always realise the physical impact it has on the body. I haven’t met anyone who hasn’t told me they haven’t been stressed in the last 12 months. I think there is a need for relaxation and I appreciate being able to provide that base for somebody. To help ease their worries and allow them to tune back into their body and listen to it. For me it’s also about working with such a great team - it’s a really unique environment.”

Written by
Bonnie Friend
“A journalist by trade, Bonnie is the Editor for Spabreaks.com. Keen to spread the message on accessible wellbeing and a spa experience for all, she thinks green smoothies are somewhat overrated and her favourite spa treatment is an Elemis Couture Technology facial.”
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