Grant Lessard has dedicated his life to the pursuit of wellness and delivering beneficial treatment to others. His path within the spa industry took him from a massage therapist to an instructor at the Cortiva Institute to director roles for well-known spas such as the Ritz Carlton, Naples Spa. Lessard is now a consultant and getting the best night’s sleep of his life because of it. And, after this conversation, I am running to book my next sleep program spa treatment. Enjoy meeting Grant!
Jessa (Nollapelli): What made you gravitate toward the wellness industry?
Grant: I started very young. I was eighteen when I was accepted to massage school, which at that time, was exceptionally rare. All of my classmates were adults changing their vocations. I was the youngest male in my class. I had been working as a Houseman at The Post Hotel in Lake Louise right out of high school.
After my first year, I thought I am going to head to Calgary to seek my fame and fortune and work with a chiropractor there. I kept running into questions, I was in over my head. I went back to school with pages and pages of questions and got them all answered. It was the best thing I ever did, because the second and third years, I was a sponge. I knew what I didn’t know.
Jessa: Fast Forward to your position as the Director of the Well & Being Spa at The Fairmont in Scottsdale, Arizona, which uses Nollapelli sheets. How were you introduced to Nollapelli?
Grant: Amy McDonald turned me onto the product. Once we got a chance to try it, we fell in love with it. From the laundry to the partnership, it made sense.
Jessa: Amy is really great. I interviewed her to launch our Beyond the Sheets series.
Grant: She is.
Jessa: Why are sheets so important in a spa atmosphere?
Grant: You are in contact with them for an hour or more. Literally, there’s a physical connection, and a lot of sheets out there are garbage. They don’t feel good, they don’t smell good, they’re frustrating for the providers and the guests. The guest doesn’t know it, it’s a minor irritation, but when you offer them something better, they notice.
Jessa: What are the benefits of spas within someone’s overall wellness? Is it a luxury?
Grant: There’s two sides to it. There’s this concept of it being a luxury, an indulgence. That fits, it has a place. I see it far more as a lifestyle and quality of life thing. I don’t see it too much as a luxury as a way to maintain an optimal balance of life. We are at a tipping point where people are starting to see it as a necessity as opposed to a luxury.
Jessa: What’s causing that tipping point?
Grant: I think this concept of being unplugged is almost ridiculous now. If you look at industry trends, you don’t see people talking about being unplugged anymore, it’s more about coping with being plugged in all the time and resiliency. And, I think this [spas] is one of the best ways to build that resiliency and recharge.
Jessa: In addition to coping with being plugged in, what other spa industry trends are you seeing?
Grant: The use of tools such as the Hypervolt from Hyperice.
Jessa: What is the Hypervolt?
Grant: It’s a handheld custom massage device. It’s a great enhancement to a treatment, but it can be a treatment within itself. It’s unusual for someone like me, a massage purist, to say how effective it is. My wife and I are massage therapists, and since we have gotten one of these things, we hardly ever give each other a massage. You can do an hour’s worth of work in fifteen minutes or five minutes, depending on what you are working on, and feel almost as good as getting a full body massage. If you use it right and incorporate into the experience, it enhances the experience as opposed to replacing it.
Jessa: This may be a rudimentary view, but spas can help promote a sense of tranquility, which for us, is pivotal for sleep. Would you say spas help promote sleep?
Grant: Absolutely. In fact, most places will offer a sleep program. Loss of sleep and sleep deprivation and loss of activity that comes with it, the increased anxiety, and all the health detriments that come from sleep loss can be benefit with an increase quality of sleep. Spending time in a spa, by its very nature if it’s a well-done spa, automatically helps in reducing all those things that are a detriment to sleep. I challenge anyone to walk into a well-designed spa and not slow down their breathing, slow down their heart rate, slow down their thought processes without even getting a treatment.
Jessa: What would a spa sleep program look like?
Grant: There is a description online at the Ritz-Carlton. Sometimes there’s a treatment component to the beginning of a massage or sometimes it is about the tranquility and time to take a bath. It sounds odd. Ask any mother when was the last time she had a relaxing bath. It is not possible.
Jessa: As a new mom, it is not.
Grant: To get out of the house and away from all those distractions of life and being able to do it in a spa is really appealing. That would be the first step. From there, transition into your massage or a wrap or an aromatherapy session where you are working specifically with certain energies or Himalayan singing bowls. And then there will be some time for sleep at the termination of treatment. And, that doesn’t have to be long, 15 minutes to a half hour typically, but it’s like resetting all your clocks. You usually are woken up very gently with some chimes, it’s a very smooth coming back into awareness.
Jessa: Have you participated in sleep treatments?
Grant: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. Yes.
Jessa: How has being a father changed your health and wellness routine?
Grant: I think I need to reframe the question. I know it is exactly what motivated me to leave the Spa Director’s position. I could no longer spend 60, 70 hours a week at a spa, Tuesday through Sunday, when my daughter entered school. Leaving was difficult, but I think it’s the best thing I ever did because now I can focus on spending quality time with her. That’s more vital to me than my self-care, but that is my self-care as well.
Jessa: Beautiful. Self-care means something different to everyone.
Grant: I can work out, I can stretch and do yoga in any environment, at any time, but I only have a limited amount of time with my daughter.
Jessa: How important is sleep in your day-to-day life?
Grant: It’s huge. I didn’t realize how poor my quality of sleep was until I left that job. All the things that I know how to do, all the tips and tricks, weren’t working very well. And even with the wonderful Nollapelli sheets, I wasn’t appreciating them very well. The moment I left that job, I had the best sleep that I have had in ten years. To the extent that my wife looks at me like a different person, in a good way.
Jessa: What's the one thing you do every day for your skin?