Georgia Sutherland fell in love with Bali, and made beauty her passion at Glo Day Spa. Photo: Ryerson Anselmo. www.costesportrait.com
Hi Georgia. When did you first fall in love with Bali?
I first visited Bali when I was about six years old in the late ’70s with my family, and then often for holidays intermittently over the following years. After graduating from Hotel Management School in Australia, Bali was my first posting. I worked at The Legian for two years, which was then a GHM hotel, and initially I was employed to do the pre-opening of the second two towers – an all-suite boutique property, which back then was surrounded by nothing but rice paddy fields. I guess at that time Bali didn’t hold the place in my heart that it does today. I just thought I would see out my two-year contract and move on. Little did I know I’d still be here 22 years later! I fell in love with the island, the people, the spiritualty and culture. I also fell in love with my husband. We have three beautiful children.
It sounds like you did a fair bit of travelling when you were young?
My extended family are from Melbourne but I was born in Perth. I was an expat child – growing up in HK from when I was four. Boarding school followed and I graduated year 12 in Victoria before I moved back to Perth and then off to Europe backpacking for two years. I had a fabulous upbringing in HK full of travel and adventure throughout Asia and other parts of the world. My mum worked for Pan Am and although the pay was very average, the perks were great with lots of free travel and upgrades.
How did you start your career in beauty?
I literally fell into the spa and beauty industry. The Indonesian Monetary Crisis happened in 1998 and many people were retrenched. It was at that time I found my new passion – I was approached by Mandara Spa and offered the position of Operations Manager. I had found my new love.
So, Glo Day Spa … how did that come about?
Indonesia has a wonderful history in hair and beauty, but 21 years ago there was very little available to Bali residents, other than a couple of little day spas offering hair cream baths and manicures or pedicures and waxing. The hygiene wasn’t great. I opened Glo Seminyak 12 years ago in 2005, and that was the first city-styled day spa on the island at that time. Our guests loved Glo and we slowly expanded to offer full spa services. Glo Sanur opened a few years later, then Glo Sandy Bay and the latest, Glo Canggu.
What are the challenges running a chain of spas here?
I guess the most obvious challenge is how to be in all four spas at the same time! But that challenge is solved simply – I have an incredible team of staff and managers. Perhaps the worst of it is the wasted time in traffic going between the four venues. That can be a challenge.
The spa business was estimated at US$8.5 billion the US alone last year … can it keep growing?
Yes I believe it can. Instagram and social media have accelerated this growth as it seems everyone is striving to be fit and beautiful. Even when times are tough you still want to look good.
What else is popular in your spas, apart from nails?
We have a very comprehensive spa and salon menu. Our slogan is Vanity and Sanity. Vanity for your nails, waxing and other beauty services. Sanity for, say, a massage. There isn’t much that the Glo team have not mastered.
How do you keep everyone motivated?
We are a team of 58, eight of whom have been with me since the beginning. We have a very low turnover of staff and I am very proud of that. When I started Glo, no one was married or had their own family. Now there are so many Glo babies! We do a lot of team building and social events, and we are continually doing refresher training with international trainers, which keeps the team motivated.
Ok here’s a good Yak question for you … you’re miles out in the middle of the desert and there’s a wounded animal blocking the road. It’s five hours back to the nearest town, what do you do?
Another of my passions is animal welfare. So this question is a no brainer! I’d do whatever is required to help the animal. Even if that means sitting there for five hours waiting for the vet to come. I’m constantly rescuing animals that have been dumped near us, and then finding new homes for them. I currently have two Bali dogs (recently our eldest one passed away). They were all rescued from the street.
What’s your favourite footwear?
I love nothing more than getting dressed to the nines and putting on the heels … but I am equally happy barefoot on the beach with the sand between my toes.
What is your spirit animal?
Ok quite a random question – so to be honest I did the spirit animal quiz on the internet[http://www.spiritanimal.info/spirit-animal-quiz] and the result was … wolf! Happy with that as the wolf is a pack animal like dogs and I love my friends and family.
What’s most important to you in life?
My family. I am blessed with three incredible children that make my world go round. Saying that you don’t know what love is until you have children is kinda cheesy but so true. And my husband of course. He’s been my sounding board and biggest supporter over the years. It has been his faith in me that has allowed me to take the risks that I have over the years. He’s been the best father.
Thanks for your time Georgia … we’ll see you in the spa. Or the traffic.