In a new, colourful monthly column, for the Olive Press Martina Willis describes her transition from a boardroom boss to the owner of an Andalucian wellness spa
I CAN’T help but see the irony in the new path I have chosen.
The first half of my life was spent surrounded by hard facts and logical thinking, as I navigated my way around giant corporations in the technology sector.
Now my job is to create balanced, happy and healthy minds, bodies and spirits.
Back then, I didn’t give a megabyte about the so-called ‘beautiful’ things in life, as I was doggedly worked my way up to board level.
Beauty products were for the female assistants of my ‘boys’, who worked for me… certainly not for me.
Yes, I needed to look the part when I entered a board room and tried to convince the men around it to part with their money or follow one of my schemes.
But my fashion sense only went as far as a tailored black suit, and a very moderate level of make-up, usually bought at the airport on the way to a meeting.
To be honest, I wouldn’t have recognised the modern-day me, with a new passion for Coco Chanel lipstick and my favourite red Jimmy Choo stilettos.
Now the proud owner of an idyllic wellness retreat, the Source of Wellbeing, hidden in a stunning valley near Marbella… my life has changed 100%.
The old me was driven by the deep psychology of human emotions and the intricacies of business.
I learnt how to lead and coach my employees to success in my many years working in Europe, USA and the Middle East, mostly sleeping little more than four hours a night.
Now, I usually get eight hours a night, get a siesta if I feel like it and take as much time as I want to walk my dogs, work out and hang out with my friends.
Sure, setting up a wellness business here has had plenty of challenges, in the loosest sense of the word.
There are a myriad set of different problems to cope with on a daily basis, but as I remind myself when I get a bit desperate about the ‘Spanish’ way of things: ‘Come on Martina – you’ve dealt with a lot worse.’
And yes, if a water leak the size of the fountain in Lake Geneva is spraying into my courtyard, I can deal with it.
Because, after all, I moved here because of the weather, the lifestyle and the life-loving locals… not the kind of things you usually associate with a boardroom.
Over the next few months I will share my successes and pitfalls in setting up a retreat in – frankly – the middle of nowhere.
I have become an expert in keeping ‘cool’ with all the many challenges one runs into when building a business in Spain and at the same time navigating through the endless jungle of beauty, wellbeing and body treatment therapists.