Living and Working Abroad – Alexander Ivanov is Spa Manager in Bhutan
Dreaming of not only work in the exiting spa industry but additionally in an exotic country? Read this story to learn how to!
Industries such as tourism, hospitality and travel provide not only great job opportunities, but also space for travelling and exploring foreign countries for the individual.
TalkWellness has hunted down spa manager Alexander Ivanov in Bhutan, who is happy to share some insight to his work in such an exotic country.
Alexander, how long have you been working in Bhutan? How did you get there? What made you chose such an extraordinary location?
I arrived in Bhutan exactly a year ago from Amansara (also AMAN property) in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
I didn’t think twice when I was offered to come to Bhutan – it is an amazing opportunity and a great learning experience for me.
Describe the spa industry in Bhutan?
Spa and wellness are still new concepts for Bhutan. Amankora and UMA were the pioneers and recently there are a lot of international and local hotels and resorts opening spas as well. This will definitely help to promote awareness amongst the Bhutanese.
What are major external challenges?
Some of the challenges are that Bhutan is not easily accessible as other countries in the region and also quite selective with the visa process but this is one of the reasons the place is so unique. As I said spa is still something new for the local residents but slowly we see more of them discovering and really enjoying coming for a massage or a spa day.
What are your prime internal spa challenges?
Unlike other Asian countries here there is no tradition in spa or massages and when the first Amankora lodge was opened in Paro it was very difficult to find people to be trained as therapists.10 years later I can say that the Bhutanese therapists are one of the most gifted I have worked with – natural healers with a special and mindful touch.
Where do you see the spa industry in Bhutan in the future?
Spa industry here is definitely growing with more luxury hotels and resorts planning to open in the next few years.
I would like to see more concepts and treatments inspired by traditional Himalayan healers and we are currently working on that here at Amankora .
We recently had a Tibetan traditional doctor, who trained the spa team in Ku Nye (Tibetan) Massage and from this month our guests are able to experience it together with a Traditional Hot Stone Bath in Paro. 6 months ago we started a project with Disabled People Association of Bhutan and Bhutan Foundation to train visually-impaired therapists and eventually have few of them working with us. So far they are doing great and I am very confident that they will be ready and certified for the next high season.
Why should we visit Bhutan?
I really like the Bhutanese Tourism board slogan – ‘Happiness is a place’. Bhutan is an amazing and unique country, still very unknown and difficult to get to but quickly gaining popularity in recent years as one of the top destinations to discover.
Alexander, what is your personal Wellness tip?
My wellness tip would be: Listen to your body and do what feels best for you.
Alexander is originally from Bulgaria, left in 1999 to travel the World and hasn’t stopped since. He has been working in luxury resorts and spas for the last 5 years – Six Senses Laamu (Maldives), where he started as a spa therapist and AMAN Resorts (Greece, Cambodia, Bhutan) as a Thai Massage specialist. Currently Alexander works as spa manager in Amankora/Bhutan. He is a certified Thai Massage and Thai Reflexology teacher, affiliated with TMC School in Chiang Mai and holds certifications in Reiki, Chi Nei Tsang and most of the usual spa treatments. Even though now he spends much more time in the office nowadays, Alexander still enjoys doing treatments for spa guests and also keeps learning new techniques and modalities.
Please leave your question or comment to Alexander below, he appreciates.
all pictures by Alexander Ivanov