Taking 10 with...Neil Hewerdine

Taking 10 with...Neil Hewerdine

Sunday 2nd September 2018

By Michelle Hammond

Q1 - How did your childhood influence your work ethic and attitude towards business?

My upbringing was very much “learn to stand on your own two feet and stand up for yourself" with firm boundaries on good manners, respecting and being kind to others  – this remains at the forefront on how I approach business relations and decisions on all levels.

Q2 - What do you believe the principles of a successful business are today?

Sincere integrity and genuine honesty – often copied but rarely emulated

Q3 - Looking back, what was your best business decision?

Hopefully there have been many, however deciding to take up the offer of employment with Steiner at such a young age opened up a world of opportunity and the “no fear, go anywhere” approach took me all over and around the world 5 times , introducing me to a wealth of experiences, cultures and meeting some inspirational people.

Q4 - Who has influenced you the most through your career?

I have been so incredibly fortunate to work with some true legends in hospitality who have put their trust and belief in me – given me the opportunity at a young age I wouldn’t wish to single any one out – I often find I have learned a lot from my peers, some where they have taught me what not to do (without them knowing)  and some who quite simply tick every single box of what a manager should be and have blown me away with their ability making me aspire to improve my own ability ( you know who you are and I don’t wish to embarrass you !) 

Q5 - What was your most difficult / worst business decision?

Difficult I wouldn’t necessarily say worst, as the decision would be for the good overall– this would be letting people go when after they have chosen not to take on your advice to change their approach to a negative situation. Of course these situations happen now again, however it is always disappointing even it is the right decision.

Q6 - What would you say was the single most advantageous character trait for success? 

Honesty and sincere integrity as mentioned above, your message may not always be “liked” but being open and honest with respectful integrity will serve well.

Q7 - What happens when you’re stressed or overwhelmed?

“Take it in my stride” - literally , I walk and walk and walk – my dog loves this part !

Q8 - How do you invest in your own wellbeing. How do you look after yourself?

Love playing squash, tennis and walking my dog. Strive to keep a balanced diet and practice the feeling of wellbeing, which is individual for everyone, if a glass of wine at the end of the day helps you feel good - then so be it – everything in moderation – wellbeing is personal feeling and what ever makes one feel good does nt necessarily work for another.

Q9 - If you could change one thing about the spa and wellness industry what would it be and why?

To relax - there are so many subjective opinions on what wellness / well being is supposed to be, remove putting labels and protocols in boxes,  at times we may lose the idea of what wellbeing is all about. We are not an industry where one size fits all – of course there has to be standard procedures to our welcome, consultations and recommendations, however the treatment and ‘reading” of a clients needs have to adapted and not robotic. As wellbeing professionals we must promote our knowledge and experience to the forefront to educate not only our valued customers but most importantly decision makers in business who, with the greatest respect, do not have the vocational experience of spa professionals.

Q10 - Finally, What’s your favourite quote or the best advice you’ve ever been given? 

Confidence is the secret of strength.

FLASH FACTS - FOR FUN SECTION

1. What’s your favourite book?

Anything by Jeffery Archer and James Pattison

2. What’s your favourite film of all time?

Titanic

3.If you could have dinner with anyone, past or present, who would it be and why? 

My family past and present  - the ones who know me the best, with a good addition of Dr Phill, Richard Branson, Billy Connolly –love their approach to life.

4. You get taken to your favourite place to be, where are you taken? 

Such a difficult one as I have a love for so many places for different reasons, but at the top the list would be Alaska, Fiji, Christmas Island, The Cotswolds.

5. Your perfect dinner is? 

Seabass simple seasoning with lemon and of course with family, good friends, good wine and lots of laughter.

6. Your go to drink is? 

Malbec  - Chilean 

7. Your favourite sweet treat is? 

More savory but if I had to choose it would be lemon cheesecake.

8. What’s your favourite essential oil / scent? 

Vetivers or bergamot 

9. You go for a treatment - what do you have and why? 

Massage – the oldest and yet most effective balancing tension tonic.

10.What’s your favourite flower?

White lilies

11.You want to sleep deeply, what do you do?

I am so fortunate I do sleep very deeply, to ensure this, a warm bath read in bed and i‘m off !

12.You want to energise fast, what do you do?

Early rise, game of squash and its game on !

13.The theme tune to your life is?

What a wonderful life /over the rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole

14.What makes you laugh to your belly?

My wife and children – we laugh a lot and sometime don’t even know why  but it is infections and brilliant !

15.What’s your favourite season?

Spring and Autumn

16. What’s your favourite color?

Blue

17. Your favourite time of day is?

Morning

18. If you could have been anyone or anything else, what / who would you be? 

I am very happy who I am and what I do but out of interest of how his mind works it would have to be Dr Phill

19. What’s your current TV guilty secret?

Grand Designs and Escape to the country – it feeds my creative side immediately!

20. Magic dust - you can learn one new skill instantly, what is it? 

To play the piano – my daughters 8 and 5 can play and teach me – it’s clearly obvious it is easier to learn when you are younger!

Neil Hewerdine has claimed an illustrious 25-year career in the hospitality industry, initiating in hair & beauty then evolving into the spa and wellness field with both operational and sales roles.

A true textbook definition of a people person. That isn't rhetoric, he genuinely thrives on a sincere desire to elevate and bring out the very best in others. This drive has led to his successes in building, motivating, and engaging diverse teams and departments. Leading operations comes naturally because, at the base of it, it’s people management which is where Neil excels.

In the hospitality industry, where Neil has spent his career, having used that keen ability to identify opportunities to cater to clientele and upgrade facilities, he is always actively involved in developing existing operations to improve workflow, maximize capacity, and enhance each brand's competitive advantage. Identifying these concepts and capitalising on them effectively has led to elevated customer satisfaction and record profitability for companies during his tenure.

Neil is an extremely high detailed, quality focused individual with a broad innovative and creative vision, he has continually created exceptional climates of professional and personable service that ensure the engagement of employees, guests and owners. Neil is devoted to harmonise the culture, mission, values and quality standards of companies to ensure maximum potential is achieved.

Neil started his training and work exposure in the East Midlands of the UK, working along side reputable business owners.

Taking a calculated decision to make a global move and work with Steiner Leisure, this lead Neil to very quickly evolve up the maritime ladder and was soon renowned as the lead in turning low performance teams around and making businesses profitable in short periods of time. It was this reputation and experience that elevated Neil to the forefront for Steiner Leisure to select him as their first land based Director of Spa for their operation at Atlantis, The Royal Towers based in
The Bahamas.

After a strong tenure with Steiner Leisure Neil was headhunted to take over the first day spa in the Middle East; Cleopatra’s - WAFI of Dubai, over the next 8 years Neil developed the role and concluded as the General Manager Of Brand Development and Franchise for the Cleopatra Brand, whilst supporting product supply and distribution of Elemis skin care line.

Towards the middle of 2009 Neil was approached by Kerzner International directly to take over and evolve the operation of their flag ship operation “Atlantis The Palm’ in Dubai. The development of the business involved re-branding and re-identifying the wellness facility itself, which vastly improved positioning in the market with turnover increasing over 100% and retail sales from 5 to 35 % of revenue. Numerous awards were achieved, in particularly winning The World Spa Award two year’s consecutively. Moreover Neil was awarded Spa & Fitness Person of the Year by Hotelier Middle East in 2013.

Neil is a called upon regularly as a speaker for the industry in the Middle East, most recently presenting on regional trends at the inaugural Professional Spa & Wellness Middle East Convention. In addition Neil was selected to be part of the Inaugural Global Wellness Institute mentorship program where he personally mentored managers to evolve their performance and business acumen. Neil excels in motivation and driving under-performing teams and business, past achievements peers and colleague commendations are a strong testament to this.

Learn more about Neil

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