john roseby is a prime example of going after what you want. this manchester native shipped off from his life in england, and has since traveled all over, aboard the world's grandest cruise ships to bring health and wellness to the high seas. as the former executive spa director at the renowned canyon ranch spa in tucson, arizona, he was instrumental in creating the canyon ranch at sea program which delivers the red flower experience aboard the ships. i caught up with john over virtual tea at his home in the english countryside to learn more about his life at sea, connecting with nature and why you should treat everyone like your mum.
red flower: what first drew you to the wellness industry?
john: i was initially an auditor in england when i was in my 20's and after i was promoted i realized there was nowhere for me to go. it was pretty much dead man's shoes. so you had to wait until your boss died before you'd actually progress any further. at the same time i got into fitness. i bought a house when i was 21 so i couldn't afford to go out partying with all my friends so i had to find a hobby that was cheap. at the time, leisure centers were jumping up all over england, so i went to my first aerobic class about 30 years ago. it was packed full of woman, during the jane fonda boom time and i was the only boy in the class. i did the class but i swore i'd never go back, but I found myself going back, and i got addicted to it, going 2-3 times a week. one of the teachers said to me, why don't you train to be a fitness instructor. once i became a qualified aerobics instructor i thought, i can't do this job full-time because it doesn't pay well, but I saw an advert in the paper for fitness instructors at sea and i found myself saying yes. they offered me $35 a week, which is ridiculous. i couldn't believe i said yes, but there i was, so it came around at the right time.
red flower: how do some of your own personal passions and interests influence your job?
john: really the job was a good fit, because canyon ranch is all about health and wellness, and i really got into that when i was about 24 with the aerobics. we're all about aging as naturally as possible without all the botox and so on, and trying to be healthy on the inside as well as the outside. so that's probably why i'm in this position because it all interlinks.
red flower: you've mentioned previously that a key principle of the canyon ranch philosophy is "health and vitality at any age", how does that guide the spa program of canyon ranch at sea?
john: what we try to do with our at sea division is to give the guests a small glimpse of what they could achieve if they experienced the whole gamut of canyon ranch services. we only handle the spa component, but we still teach our guests that they have to look after themselves. it's very difficult on a ship because the whole lifestyle is geared up to be unhealthy. we try to create the health and wellness feeling for our staff and guests, that's our message for 2013.
red flower: what was the general vision when starting the canyon ranch at sea program, what experience did you want to create for guests?
john: we try to be as true to the canyon ranch menu of services so that if the guest has the nature ritual here, they could receive the same treatment at the other canyon ranch locations. we try to be as truly organic as possible and come up with new initiatives constantly to look for ways to drive the health and wellness message without any sort of gimmicks.
red flower: what attracted you to red flower and why choose their products for canyon ranch at sea?
john: i met yael and katie of red flower when I was the executive spa director at canyon ranch in tucson. i liked that they were so passionate about their brand. the products looked enticing, you wanted to feel and touch them. i liked that they were developing different lines, especially nature. it seemed the perfect marriage to what we [canyon ranch] were trying to do, and the fact that we could create these wonderful rituals, that's what appealed.
red flower: you've been in this business for 20 years, what major shifts in the industry have surprised you and what future trends do you anticipate?
john: in terms of the cruise industry, one of the things i'm surprised by is how competitors do botox on the cruise ship. i am pleased though to see how europeans are getting more involved in spa. when I first started, the brits would not spa. but it will always be more popular with the americans; they see spas as a necessity of life. it's also good to see how more health aware people have become.
red flower: you deal with so many different employees and staff to train all over the world, what is the essence of hospitality to you?
john: whether a guest is staying at a resort or on a cruise ship, they are on vacation. i always tell my staff, every guest should be treated like they're your mom, dad, brother, and sister and you want them to get the best service possible. i like the guests to walk away from the spa saying it was one of the best experiences they've had or the highlight of their trip.
red flower: being in the business of relaxation and wellness, how do you decompress after an especially taxing day?
john: [laughs] i don't. but workouts do help. other times i like to go for walks in the country near my home. we're [canyon ranch staff] all reading books on "grounding" and how you have to connect to the earth. we're surrounded by computers and digital objects that give us a negative "reading" and if you ground with the earth, which has a positive reading, they will counteract each other. so if you go out in the country, you should be barefoot in the grass or the dirt at some point, you are then connecting with the earth's rotational gravity. the foot has so many sensors on the bottom of it for a reason. our caveman ancestors used to walk around barefoot and sleep on low ground and they were automatically de-charging from the negative aspects going on in the body. now we wear shoes and live in houses so the body never gets a chance to release these negatives through the ground. it's an interesting concept. it [research] said it's also good for jetlag so when i landed back in england i went into the garden, took my shoes off and felt the mud between my toes
red flower: what was the last thing that inspired you?
john: i get inspiration from all different things. i get inspired even from my staff when i go on ships. sometimes i'll listen to their stories and ask them why they came this industry. it's such a hard thing to commit to a 7 or 8-month contract and to hear from these women who left their children behind to earn enough money to give their children a better future, and the sacrifices they've made, it really inspires me. new ideas inspire me. if you look around, you can always be inspired.