Women in Wellness: “Why you should rise with the sun” With Sienna Creasy of Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa

Rise with the sun. The beginning of your day sets the tone for the rest of your day and waking up with a touch of wonder will present a day of wonderful. Be inquisitive about your morning, your surroundings and your opportunities to thrive. I have my phone set on a sleeper timer so I […]

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Rise with the sun. The beginning of your day sets the tone for the rest of your day and waking up with a touch of wonder will present a day of wonderful. Be inquisitive about your morning, your surroundings and your opportunities to thrive. I have my phone set on a sleeper timer so I cannot open any apps until 30 minutes after I have woken up. This allows me to be truly present with my goals and intentions for the day.

Ihad the pleasure to interview Sienna Creasy. An early trailblazer in understanding the benefits of infusing travel and fitness, Reggaelates founder and Spa Director at Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa, Sienna, found her purpose serving in the Peace Corps almost 15 years ago and has since turned her passion into reality throughout her career path. Incorporating what she has learned from her Peace Corp travels, Creasy has introduced experiential wellness to the Jamaican tourism industry, serving as the driving force behind the conceptualization of the Caribbean’s first and only Himalayan Salt Therapy Lounge and Jamaica’s first Quartz Therapy Ritual Room during her previous role as Group Wellness Director at Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort & Spa. In addition to spearheading Hilton Rose Hall’s Radiant Spa, Creasy hosts regularly scheduled yoga, Pilates and Reggaelates — a combination of yoga and Pilates with Dancehall beats — classes at the Jamaican resort.

Thank you so much for joining us SiennaWhat is your “backstory”?

Igrew up a small-town Vermont girl with a big vision to save the world. At the time I didn’t know what the world needed saving from, but I knew I wanted to make a difference and have a long-term impact.

My desire to understand humanity began when I was studying Justice abroad in Budapest, Hungary during my junior year at the University of New Hampshire. I returned from my semester abroad so eager to travel more and immerse myself in cultural experiences while making an impact on the world. Fueling my insatiable hunger to make a difference, the Dean of Liberal Arts recommended I apply for the Peace Corps.

Just six months later I was on my way to Bangladesh to serve in the Peace Corps where I taught English to adults while working with a women’s empowerment program. My next service was in Peace Corps Jamaica where I volunteered with the Ministry of Health for two years and provided support in areas of HIV/AIDS awareness, hurricane preparation, and diabetes prevention. In my spare time, I would teach forms of Yoga & Pilates which incorporated Jamaican dance which has since morphed into what has become Reggaelates.

My journey and desire to learn led me to Thailand and India where I studied Thai Yoga Massage and Ayurveda. It was then and there that I knew a life in wellness was my natural calling. Transforming from service to spa was a natural development in realizing how I could make a sustainable impact on the larger community through wellness. I returned to Jamaica and shortly after accepted a role in the hospitality industry as a spa director, setting the foundation for my current career path.

Can you share your top three “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing?

Rise with the sun. The beginning of your day sets the tone for the rest of your day and waking up with a touch of wonder will present a day of wonderful. Be inquisitive about your morning, your surroundings and your opportunities to thrive. I have my phone set on a sleeper timer so I cannot open any apps until 30 minutes after I have woken up. This allows me to be truly present with my goals and intentions for the day.

Make time to move. Movement is such an integral part of our being and living in Jamaica has helped me to embrace the dance of life in ways I couldn’t imagine. A lot of us have a set playlist we like to move to but I prefer to let the music find me. The next time you go to listen to listen to music, I challenge you to pick a randomly curated playlist you haven’t listened to before and let the music move you.

Prioritize personal time. Making time to decompress after a day at the office or on the job is so important you and those around you. The acts can be as simple as changing from your work clothes into your favorite cozy sweatpants as soon as you get home or lay down with your legs up the wall to physically decompress if you spend all day sitting at a desk. Try your best to remove yourself from any of the everyday anxiety or stressors that might follow you home by shifting or rearranging perspective.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

Traveling alone to spend a summer in Thailand and India was daunting. Believe it or not going to the Peace Corps in Bangladesh was much easier because I was so young, eager and naïve. As we grow older we tend to lose that edge, that eagerness and willingness to venture off on our own. During my time in Thailand I befriended an amazing group of healing artists and we spent a weekend in the middle of a reservoir. It’s now called OM waters and is only accessible by boat. Spaces and places like this are absolute treasures and if you have the opportunity to travel to one if even for a weekend I would highly recommend it. There is no cell phone service and your carry your food in and trash out. What is interesting cannot be explained or put into words, it’s a feeling, a sensation of peace, a full mind/body immersion of contentment that has been a foundational memory I tap into whenever I contemplate the concept of a new spa or wellness concept.

Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting?

I had been working independently as an entrepreneur for ten years before joining the corporate side of hospitality. By this point I was used to always being on and checking emails, creating new workshops and events and being available seven days a week. When I first made the move to Jamaica, I took this same work ethic into the hotel industry as a spa director and my eagerness, while it had good intentions, took a toll on myself and my team. I expected them to be on at all times, leaving no time to decompress and detach from work life. My team had to teach me the importance of down time and helped to shift my mentality in understanding how essential a proper work life balance is.

Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I learned the importance of being able to turn off the constant thought process so that creativity can still prevail. Giving actions space so that natural ideas can arise in the effortless moments in between the regular work. I learned to honor the importance of “me time” to build new ideas and concepts or I would always be chasing the leaders rather than being a leader myself.

When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

My work is two-fold. As a spa director I am responsible for the resort’s wellbeing initiatives. As part of this, I ensure my teams personally practice forms of Yoga and Yoga Nidra which is a Yogic sleep practice so they are showing up as their best selves. I believe when they are in a relaxed state of mind and body every guest they meet is then impacted positively. It’s like our own positive butterfly effect.

The world in general is very interconnected and I am grateful to have this opportunity to impact it indirectly through our hotel guests. My teams are my heartbeat and their training and education in this industry is most important so that they can treat every guest with amazing care and service from the heart.

Directly I continue to host classes and retreats on-property that our guests can partake in as well as host workshops overseas where I want my students to find the light within themselves so they can then serve the world in greater ways.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

When I met my boyfriend Kyle I was leading a yoga retreat in Jamaica and working as a full time instructor and massage therapist in the United States. I was invited to his hotel’s spa event and he asked me if I would teach a yoga class to his guests that same week. Leaving behind my life in the states, I decided to take a leap of faith and move to Jamaica to pursue my career and apply for a position in hospitality as a spa director and wellness coordinator. Kyle, a general manager at another resort on island and a professional in his own right has taught me much along the way. I am so grateful for his guidance and patience as I learned how to step out of yoga leggings into slacks and a blazer.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be? I would encourage the world to dance. Because music is universal, I truly believe music has the ability to transport and transform us all. One song has the power to improve our mood and outlook on life. If dancing isn’t your thing, just move to the music.

What is your “3 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

  1. Not to be afraid of failure as it opens the door for an even better outcome.
  2. To voice my goals and dreams because silence has never brought a vision to life.
  3. Educate yourself outside of your area of expertise. I handle financial matters on a daily basis in my role and I wish I had started with a strong foundation in that subject rather than having to teach myself as I go.

Do you have a “girl-crush” in this industry? If you could take one person to brunch, who would it be? (Let another “woman in wellness” know that you respect her as a teacher and guide!)

When I first started out in the spa industry, I was so hungry to learn everything I could about the spa and beauty business. I was reading every book I could get my hands on and came across a podcast that I listened to on my commute every morning by Lori Crete. I would love to thank her for sharing the relatable industry-wide struggles and challenges that I’ve experienced throughout my journey. Lori, if you’re reading, lunch is on me from one Vermonter to another!

Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?

This is the hardest question because it’s personal. I was a vegan for quite some time and still do not eat meat or dairy. I was a recycling champion when living in the United States and a strong supporter of climate initiatives, but nothing is dearer to me than mental health. We can have a clean green planet, but it cannot flourish if the humans living on it are still suffering. This topic hits home as I lost my brother to an opioid overdose four years ago and my uncle this past year. There is a lot more work to be done to change the landscape of our culture and how we handle treatment for people in pain. Coming from a profession where we strive to heal from within, I believe that with the right tools, practices and compassion, we have an opportunity to positively impact mental health within our industry.

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