Schmidt, who has been a fixture in the spa industry since the late 1980s when he trained as a massage therapist and founded a holistic healing center in Vermont, has devoted his entire adult life to a career focused on health, healing and well-being. He has owned, managed, directed and consulted with a range of independent as well as hotel and resort spas; served as trainer and educator for various programs and institutions; and sat on numerous committees and boards, including his current stint on the board of directors for the International Spa Association (ISPA).
Despite all of Schmidt’s accomplishments he, like many in our industry, was adversely affected by the economic recession. When in 2009 a spa project he’d been hired to build and open suddenly terminated due to a loss of backing, he was thrown off-guard. But he also saw the sudden change as an opportunity to reexamine his career goals and to consider new ways in which to achieve them.
Enter Lori Hutchinson, a friend and spa industry colleague, as well as founder of hospitality recruiting firm Hutchinson Consulting. In late 2010, Hutchinson notified Schmidt about an assistant spa director position at the award-winning Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Southampton Princess on the mid-Atlantic island of Bermuda. Although the idea of working for the venerable five-star Fairmont chain, and in particular their prestigious Willow Stream spa brand, held considerable appeal, the notion of actually relocating to the small (21 square miles, to be exact), foreign nation of Bermuda held a giant question mark in his mind. Plus, he was clearly overqualified for the “assistant” title.