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Meet Dana Stallings of Spa La V – La Valencia Hotel & Spa in La Jolla

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dana Stallings.

Dana is a leader in the burgeoning Wellness Industry – in fact, research from the Global Wellness Institute has identified a $3.7 trillion wellness economy. If Southern California — where wellness is not a trend but a lifestyle choice – is known as one of the epi-centers of spas in the U.S., then San Diego is easily the birthplace of the destination spa. Who hasn’t heard of the Szekely family founding nearby Rancho La Puerta and The Golden Door spas? But, in fact, Dana Stallings — as co-founder of one of the most successful day spas in San Diego’s history, Spa Velia — is known as a pioneer in the day spa industry.

She also helped launch IConnection, Southern California’s premier spa industry association that spearheads education, community action and special events. Last year Stallings was appointed as one of one of 85 international ambassadors for Global Wellness Day and she was recently named Director of Spa at the iconic “Pink Lady” herself, La Valencia Hotel in La Jolla, where she is preparing to unveil the hotel’s new Spa La V by summer’s end.

Previous to her 14-year run as co-owner of Spa Velia in downtown San Diego, Stallings served as served as a Spa Director for luxury resorts such as La Costa Resort. Well versed in all aspects of the spa business – including training, operations, marketing, expense management and revenue growth – Stallings was also a Senior Spa Consultant for Creative Spa Concepts for 10 years opening spas around the country, the last of which was the award-winning Sahra Spa at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.

As you can see below, reviews for the now closed Spa Velia speak for themselves, but there must be more than operations expertise at work with Stalling’s magic touch in a spa. With nearly 300 spas in the San Diego area – and tens of thousands across the U.S. — why would a boutique day spa on the ground floor of a high rise office building win the prestigious “Day Spa of the Year Award” from DAY SPA MAGAZINE, known as the Oscars™ of the day spa world, and also be named the readers of 944 MAGAZINE as their “Favorite Spa for Pampering.”

Just a few of Spa Velia’s Yelp Reviews:
1. Our experience here was great. You get what you pay for.
2. One of the best spas I have been to in San Diego.
3. Great customer service from the beginning to the end of my experience.
4. We all loved it and would definitely come back!

Colleagues agree that Stallings has an unwavering commitment to facilitating and promoting education within the spa industry. As a result, she has also been actively involved with a number of special task forces for the International Spa Association (ISPA).

-Education Committee: Responsible for co-authoring the ISPA Spa Standard Operations Manual for the Spa Industry currently sold by ISPA.

-Speaker Task Force Chair: Oversaw and reviewed world renowned Conference Speakers for the annual International Conference.

-Education Committee Chair: Developed the ISPA Consumer Bill of Rights, ISPA Consumer & Professionals Spa Glossary & completed the ISPA Resource Guide to Better Business in the Spa Industry.

-Implementation Task Force: Responsible for reviewing all the current ISPA educational pieces & sourcing strategies to improve the utilization of educational certification programs.

Due to her successful track record and positive visibility within the spa and hospitality, Stallings is also a frequent contributor to spa trade publications, industry resources, articles and advisory boards. Having such a seasoned spa industry veteran — whose IG handle, blissed.girl embodies her everyday attitude — helm the new spa of one of San Diego County’s most beloved hotels can only benefit its guests.

Job one at Spa La V for Stallings was to build strategic alliances with local and international wellness communities. Under her guidance, San Diego companies like KOPARI Coconut Beauty Products…. (Joanne Berry, etc.) will be working with the new resort spa. And, in her role as Global Wellness Day Ambassador, she partnered with the hotel team and the La Jolla Merchants Association to create a village-wide celebration for this year’s Global Wellness Day on Saturday, June 9.

More than half of the 30 plus wellness-oriented businesses in La Jolla agreed to join La Valencia in offering free community presentations and discounted services that day with the goal of inspiring healthy choices – following the GWD motto of “One Day Can Change Your Life.”

If this is what can be accomplished before Spa La V opens in late August of this year, just imagine what other wellness benefits Stallings can continue to spearhead for the San Diego region!

Please tell us more about your story.
My career in the Spa Industry started quite by accident! I was studying International Business with an emphasis in Marketing and was working as a part-time Spa Coordinator at La Costa Resort & Spa to help put myself through college. This was in the 90’s, when Spas were geared towards the elite (read wealthy and celebrities) and was not so easily accessible nor accepted as an essential part of overall wellness!

The environment intrigued me. I thrived in an environment where I was working with incredibly talented colleagues whose sole goal (and job) was to help people feel better through the power of touch. I had found my tribe and wanted to learn more. I devoted all my free time to learning every aspect of the business and was promoted to several management positions throughout my time at La Costa. Eventually, this translated to working as a Spa Director in a myriad of spa settings (Resort, Day, Club, Health) throughout the top spas in San Diego.

Have you had any challenges along the way?
You bet! My journey has not always been about being in a blissed mindset while enjoying spa treatments and yoga classes. Staying relevant, on top of my game and being incredibly flexible are an ongoing skillset I have to subscribe to in order to adapt to the ever-changing wellness industry. Ironically what most excites me as well as most challenge me is educating myself on all of the newest, cutting-edge treatments, products, research and trends. It’s mind-boggling! I spend countless hours educating myself on a daily basis, in order to provide the best spa experience one can imagine.

Surprisingly, it is an ongoing challenge for many of us in this industry to stay “balanced”, whatever that definition means to each of us. I frequently have to hit my own reset button, and clear my plate entirely to ensure that I stay focused on my “whys” and what truly precious to me at the end of the day.

My mantra is SIMPLE, really – the word #SIMPLE. I work hard to not get in my own way and recalibrate frequently. It takes constant awareness, energy, and effort but if you aren’t going to show up as the architect of designing your own life on purpose and by design, who is?

We’d love to hear more about your business.
A hospitality classic since 1926 La Valencia Hotel is adding “and Spa” to its name with the debut of Spa La V, a 3500 square foot sensory experience spa and garden. Guests of Spa La V can expect uplifting, organic, Mediterranean essential oils of Neroli, Lemon and Mandarin infused with hand-harvested marine. precious gemstone (in a nod to “the jewel” that is La Jolla), and mineral inspired treatments.

I am particularly excited about our sun-dappled deck, which will overlook a garden of regionally inspired native plants, making it a perfect place to unwind and reflect while listening to the nearby crashing waves, swaying palm trees and local wildlife.

Tucked into the bluff beneath La Valencia’s iconic town of La Jolla, Spa La V delivers a wellness sanctuary caressed by ocean breezes. Your wellness journey begins as you walk through our emerald green gardens where you’re greeted by the soothing sounds of trickling water and the fragrance of neroli. This thoughtful, indulgent oasis embraces guests in a rose-quartz hued California bungalow with intimacy and privacy.

Spa La V intoxicates our guests with an enchanting, memorable and luxurious spa experience by offering unique spa services in an unhurried, nurturing, and comfortably elegant environment. Our unique and extensive menu of services integrates the most effective and elite modalities from around the world provided by consciously kind staff dedicated to serving you with the utmost expertise in each modality.

Spa La V’s products are exotic, unique, aromatic, nourishing, cleansing, and detoxifying. You will emerge from your treatments feeling unforgettably transformed.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
San Diego is simply the BEST place to start any Wellness business! In fact, the Wellness Industry is burgeoning! (The Global Wellness Institute has identified a $3.7 trillion wellness economy. If Southern California — where wellness is not a trend but a lifestyle choice – is known as one of the epi-centers of spas in the U.S., then San Diego is easily the birthplace of the destination spa.

Who hasn’t heard of the Szekely family founding nearby Rancho La Puerta and The Golden Door spas? I am thrilled to be a part of an industry that is thriving and where every day there is the opportunity to grow and learn something new!

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