A wellness calling

“Do you see that apple? If I go up there and get you the apple, you will never know how to climb up and get the apple yourself. So after today no more money and no more support from me, except my love.” These words, spoken to me by my father when I was only 17, have driven me to where I am today and remain a philosophy that keeps pushing me forward.

Just over 20 years ago I started my hospitality career at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, quickly moving through the hotel industry’s ranks and brands. At 34 I was number two at the Shangri-La Taipei. I felt like I was in charge, living the high life and on top of my game.

But that’s when I received devastating news. I was diagnosed with lung cancer — a heart-stopping moment, almost literally. Even more frightening was the word “terminal” at the top of the prognosis.

I spent months carrying out research into my condition, spying a glimmer of hope and fighting to transform this glimmer into a complete ray of light. I immersed myself in a completely holistic lifestyle, which I still lead today. I turned my whole world around 180 degrees — I became a vegetarian and started waking up at 6 a.m. to practice yoga and breathing techniques and meditating everyday. Today, it doesn’t matter what time I go to bed or which city I find myself in, health has quickly climbed the ladder of my life’s priorities.

Although the cancer was a heartbreaking two-year battle, it made me stronger, yet humbled me at the same time. It also taught me to go after the things I value most.

Once the doctors announced that I had fully recovered, I dove right back into the world of hospitality — but this time, from a different angle. During my time of healing, I realized the importance of wellness, and knew that moving forward this would be the theme of any of my life’s ventures. I restarted as general manager of Rafael’s Hotel Bermuda, Elbow Beach, able to live by the ocean and reap the healing rewards initially of a calm lifestyle. This was followed by a role as VP of operations, developing for the Oberoi Group in India, establishing Ananda — the now world-renowned destination spa in the Himalayas — and finally developing the spa division for Mandarin Oriental worldwide. 

Despite all these exceedingly rewarding career opportunities, I was born to a family of entrepreneurs, which had inspired in me a fire to pursue, at some point in my life, my own business. I felt as if it were my calling, and so after much planning, GOCO Hospitality was formed.

I wanted to take advantage of the space where wellness and hospitality could be merged, and formed GOCO to create and deliver the most cutting-edge urban and resort wellness concept destinations around the globe. I choose to promote spas and wellness not just because it is my job, but because I wholeheartedly believe in the benefits they provide.

This is my reason to blog and share with all of you how “wellness meets wanderlust.” This will be my guide for you to embrace healthy living through fitness, food and natural therapies, as well as to share my stories and insight while I’m on the road (200-plus days a year) or back at home in Bangkok. It will deliver a behind-the-scenes look at the wellness and fitness industry, including interviews with hospitality experts and an exploration of upcoming trends, and offer a spotlight on the most striking spa and wellness hospitality concepts and designs across the globe.

Stay tuned for more …