My Week: Abi Wright of SpaBreaks.com

The spa getaway entrepreneur talks early starts, cracking the London market and providing tailored treatments.

by Elizabeth Anderson
Last Updated: 10 Apr 2014

We organise spa breaks for about 2,000 people a week. The company represents high-end brands, but a spa day isn’t as expensive as you might think – the packages on the website start from £19 a day. I started SpaBreaks.com in 2008 with two staff and in three years that’s grown to a team of 35. We arrange treatments with 380 venues in the UK and another 70 abroad.

Three months ago I launched a programme called Recovery Retreats, which focuses on spa treatments for cancer sufferers. It started after I got a phone call from a lady who, when arriving at a spa, had been refused treatment because she had been having chemotherapy. Cancer patients need to be careful about using Jacuzzis and steam rooms as it can provoke the flow of lymphatic fluid and could cause the cancer to spread. We work with venues in the UK to arrange programmes that focus on the relaxation side of the treatment – sitting by the side of the pool, and walks in the woods, for example. We also work with staff that have been trained to adapt massages for cancer sufferers, and who can provide emotional support to the customers. It’s about finding tweaks to the traditional spa day with cancer sufferers in mind.

I live in Newbury, Berkshire and the office is in London, so it’s an early start. I leave the house at 5.30 on a Monday morning to arrive at the office at 8am for a sales meeting. We’ll go through the sales figures for the week and talk about what we have coming up in the week ahead. We’re open seven days a week, but we still come in to 400 queries every morning.

Two days a week I’m on the road, looking at potential venues we can work with. This can be anywhere from Scotland to Cornwall, or in places like Spain as we’re hoping to offer more packages abroad. I’ll also spend whole afternoons looking at London venues. The capital is the toughest market to crack as most London spas can sell themselves and don’t need to use agencies as they attract so much footfall already. We’re hoping that will change though. In the new year we’ll be organising more high-end spa breaks for special occasions such as honeymoons, and this should appeal to more London venues.

On Wednesday I’ll stay at home with my two children, who are three and one. I’ll check my emails and call in to the office, but I like to spend the day taking the children horse riding and walking our two dogs. I don’t see them much the rest of the week, as I leave the house before they wake up and get back at 8pm, after they’re in bed. I’m lucky that my husband works just round the corner from our house, so he looks after them when I’m not there. I work on Sundays, responding to emails, but I’ll work from home so I can spend more time with the family and see friends.

We had our staff party this week at a hotel in London. It was a chance to say thanks to the team. In the last year we’ve gone from turning over less than £4m a year to £7.5m in 2011, and that’s down to their hard work. Next year we hope to do even better.

Find out more at SpaBreaks.com

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