dormy house spa

Zoe Douglas – A letter to my younger self


If you can’t change your fate, change your attitude! Life puts
you in situations you may not always be comfortable with – work
might be particularly hard, or a day especially tiring or
stressful – but you put yourself here, you chose this work of
healing. So change your attitude, stop moaning and get on with
your day. If you’re really not happy with something, simply
move on. That’s what I’d tell a younger me, if I could go back
and give her a talking to!


And I’d warn her to leave her ego at the door. Take advice from
others and allow people to help her. In the pursuit of
perfection I often didn’t want to admit I’d made mistakes or I
might fail. This causes lots of stress on your own mind and
body – exactly what I was trying to help other NOT do. Let your
team help you and give you ideas; allow them to have a voice
and be part of the plan. If I’d known this back when I started
out, it would have made spa management a lot easier.


I wouldn’t change anything, to be honest, if I was starting out
again. I’m exceptionally grateful for the experiences I’ve had.
This industry has enabled me to travel, to work in the most
incredible spas and I have gained lifelong friends. I find it
hard to say I’ve made any major mistakes on my journey. Of
course there have been errors, but they’ve all caused me to be
a stronger woman today. Perhaps what I would remind a young Zoe
is that her instinct will never let her down, no matter what
anyone else says, so trust it.


I came to this industry later than many, in my mid 20’s, and I
didn’t start off as a Beauty Therapist but as a Sports Massage
therapist. In honestly, I accidentally led myself down the spa
path having originally intended to go into Physiotherapy ­–
now, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.  


I trained with the Scottish School of Massage for two years,
qualifying in Sports and Remedial Massage Therapy. My love for
travel and exploring led me to train with Steiner and secure an
amazing contract on one of Seabourn’s luxury yachts. On
returning to the UK for a break, I was offered a position with
Six Senses Spa’s in the Maldives, followed by the Dominican
Republic. Six Senses helped me see the spiritual side of what
being a therapist means and how we can potentially change
people’s lives through our hands; that was a turning point for


My toughest challenge was moving to my current role at Dormy
House. I was brought in to create and open the spa, I’d never
been to the area, I had nowhere to live, I couldn’t drive and
had no family or friends around me. I had an incredible
opportunity, to put myself at the heart of this spa and nurture
the staff in the way I’d wanted to be nurtured in my first
therapist roles. It sounds really corny, but I genuinely want
to be a role model to my team. My priority is to ensure the
wellbeing and happiness of those who’ve chosen to work
alongside me. It’s not always easy; you need to be empathetic,
a shoulder to cry on, a mentor, a big sister, all in one. But
seeing incredible young women and men grow fills me with joy.
Despite gaining more grey hairs, I would relive this journey
over and over again.


Launching Dormy House taught me that fear is a friend. I was
terrified before moving here, to the point I almost changed my
mind. But fear meant I cared, so I now know that if something
feels unknown and scary, it’s worth taking the leap. The best
advice I could give my younger self would be to stop worrying –
it empties that present moment of all its strength and
happiness. Be more forgiving of yourself and just enjoy the


Every day I’m inspired by my dear Mum. She was diagnosed with
early onset Alzheimer’s four years ago, just before I moved
away. Her daily acceptance and struggle with the disease is
incredible, and her support and encouragement of my career,
even if it means not being at home with her, is testament to
her selflessness, love and strength.


As to the future, I believe the industry really needs to focus
on ensuring we have enough educated, well-trained staff, and
managers who can lead into the future. There is so much focus
on new trends, new technology, new multi-million pound spa’s
being built – which is all very positive and proof this
industry is making a difference to people’s lives – but more
time and money needs to be invested into the people who will
then deliver the treatments. Therapists need to be nurtured and
encouraged to look after their own mental and physical
wellbeing. Colleges and schools need to start teaching all of
the above at an early stage, to ensure we have enough dedicated
staff in the future to fill these beautiful spas.