A leading figure in the UK spa industry, plus founder and Director of Commercial Spa Strategies, Liz Holmes has enjoyed success as an award-winning fitness leader, a spa director (launching and leading the Spa at Rockliffe Hall) and National Head of Spa at Virgin Active. Former Vice Chair of UK Spa Association, her consultancy projects include Ramside Hall, Rudding Park, The Garden Spa at Great Sankey and The Lodore Falls, Keswick.
“Giving advice to the young Liz Holmes - or McKeane as I was back then - would, in truth, be a fairly fruitless exercise – I believed I pretty much knew it all at 19. I only wish I still had the confidence of youth to guide me, although to be fair, I do have my lovely daughter Ellie, just turned 19, whom I regularly turn to for a second opinion.
If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail
If I was starting out again today, what would I change? Not a thing. I’ve had the most fun. I’ve made some daft decisions too, but it’s all turned out pretty well. I do wish I could tell the young Liz that if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail. I remember I once had an interview with the BBC make-up department who invited me back for a trade test to do ‘ageing make-up’. I didn’t think it could be that hard so turned up with my normal kit and just made a beautiful model look completely horrendous. Needless to say, I didn’t get the job. Funny though, how failure often leads you somewhere good. I went on from that to join Wella as a trainer, which really was a career defining role for me.
So many amazing things have happened for me, but I will never forget being 23yrs old, working as a salon manager at Gleneagles Hotel and deciding to put on a charity hair show. It turned into a big deal with fabulous models, amazing choreography, the works. My Mum and Dad came along and they were just so proud it has always stayed with me.
being resourceful and flexible and going with new challenges can take you in surprising and quite wonderful directions.
Of course, there have been challenges. Post maternity leave, it took real grit to get back to the career I loved. There was no option for part-time work (with the role I was in) and I had several interviews with people who clearly thought I was past-it or no longer fully committed. It was the most frustrating time and gave me so much empathy with other women balancing family and career. I decided to re-train as a Pilates teacher, setting up my own company in Bristol and making a video. I learned that being resourceful and flexible and going with new challenges can take you in surprising and quite wonderful directions.
As for where the young Liz will find inspiration, I don’t normally do cheesy (in-fact I regularly swear while looking at schmaltzy Facebook posts) however, I will make an exception – Nick, the guy who will be your husband, is amazing. He has opened some of the finest hotel resorts in the UK; helped so many people reach their goals and numerous businesses achieve their objectives. Today he is my best coach and mentor. I feel confident in taking on projects that I know will stretch me with Commercial Spa Strategies, because there are two of us and we will get to the right solutions. And as if that’s not enough, he’s an amazing cook!
chasing success is a pretty joyless endeavour, so chase fun and fulfilment every time.
My motto when younger was ‘Just get on with it’ but now it’s more like ‘Do what makes you happy’. As for advice, in Scotland we'd say ‘What’s fur ye’ll no go past ye’ has always stayed with me, or for the non-Scottish reader, 'What's for you will not go past you'. Stay open to new stuff and go with it; chasing success is a pretty joyless endeavour, so chase fun and fulfilment every time.
The best advice I can leave you with, my younger self, is don’t worry about the small stuff or what anyone thinks. You’ll be fine, you are absolutely good enough.