Shane Bird


Just from looking at the number of new spas that were popping up all over the country I knew that spa was a business to get into. I helped place lots of newly-qualified massage therapist's with resorts, until one offered me a position I couldn’t refuse.
Just from seeing all the new spas that were popping up I knew it was a business to get into. I helped place lots of newly-qualified massage therapist's with resorts.

Director of Spa Operations, Turning Stone Casino

Everyone in the spa industry knows about the transient nature of the business. Changing jobs, whether it’s because of a career move or a decision forced by the closure of a spa, usually means finding another job in another town, another state, or even another country. Much as we love the growth the spa world has enjoyed over the last two decades, that’s something that is unlikely to change.

In a way, it’s what makes the people in the spa business so dedicated, so determined, and so special. Accepting the possibility that moving might mean uprooting your family means the spa life demands a special kind of commitment. Ironically it was partly a desire to avoid the transient lifestyle that resulted in Shane Bird, Director of Spa Operations at Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York, starting his career in the spa trade.

“I would have been the fourth generation in my family to join law enforcement, and I was ready to sign up. Then my dad, himself a career police officer, took me to the side and asked if I ever wanted a stable family life then I should end the family tradition.” So having spent more of his life up to that point set on a career in law enforcement, Shane began to look elsewhere.

Not having the grades to get into physical therapy school (“they wanted a 4.0. I didn’t have one!”) Shane ended up in massage school. So in true entrepreneurial tradition, he finished his training and started his own business, hiring newly-qualified therapists on behalf of the burgeoning spa industry. At the same time, he was also hired by his old college to help place new graduates.

“Just from looking at the number of new spas that were popping up all over the country I knew that spa was a business to get into. I helped place lots of newly-qualified massage therapist's with resorts, until one offered me a position I couldn’t refuse.”

Being willing to try things that might have appeared daunting – like taking that first spa job in Las Vegas, far from his home - has been a key driver of Shane’s success. “My philosophy has always been to grab anything that comes my way. You can filter out the good stuff from the bad stuff later on, but if an opportunity arises you’ve got to take it. If you try to take all of them then the successes will stay with you and grow you as a person – but so do the failures.”

The transient nature of the spa world has resulted in Shane, like so many others, moving to where the work was available. “You’ve got to be able to do whatever you need to do, and in family terms you need a partner who is equally willing and able to do the same thing. I was with Canyon Ranch for ten years, and I moved around quite a lot with them but in the back of my mind was the idea that I needed to remain flexible and always be prepared to move on again.”

After 17 years of, periodically, people new to the spa and hospitality industry, Shane’s views on the new generation carry some weight. “Young people now don’t invest enough in the now to make their future careers successful. They move on too fast, wanting to get an associate director’s position within two or three years. Not surprisingly, many of them flounder because they haven’t invested enough in their first or second job to make that jump successfully.”

For anyone with ambitions to climb the spa industry ladder, Shane believes that a commitment of at least three years per position is imperative. “The first year is getting your team behind you, the second year is implementing your change and vision for a business, the third year is making sure those changes are sustainable and work properly. Anything less than that, you’re just job hopping.”

Transience might be a part of the spa world, but law enforcement’s loss was definitely spa’s gain.


Just from looking at the number of new spas that were popping up all over the country I knew that spa was a business to get into. I helped place lots of newly-qualified massage therapist's with resorts, until one offered me a position I couldn’t refuse.