Brenda Ramen

Writer Catharine Nicol | October 11, 2013

Brenda Ramen is the Group Spa Director for GHM, with 12 existing and future spas under her supervision spread over Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Originally from Canada, her passion for travel started with a trip to Hawaii at 18, followed by Australia and then Bali, finally leading to her current home, Singapore. “I never thought I would leave the Caribbean,” she admits. “I had found my paradise, but I wouldn’t have developed as a person if I had stayed there.”

A high-pressure job in Australia nudged her into studying Ayurveda and yoga to alleviate the stress, but soon the hobbies became more important than the job. “It came so naturally, I felt I had to follow my heart, so I gave away a well-paid job to go to college,” she says. “It was a brave move, like jumping off a cliff and having the confidence to know you’ll land on your feet.“

Starting her own practice, she settled in one of Australia’s most alternative locations, Byron Bay, but fate had other ideas. Headhunted as a potential spa manager for The Villas in Bali, she reluctantly flew to the Indonesian island, and it was love at first sight. “Bali has a lot of spiritual power, it is very much aligned with the heart chakra,” she says. “In Australia there’s a different energy, more the base chakra, more grounding. I followed my destiny and trusted the process of life.”

From The Villas and their renewed Prana Spa, she moved jobs to GHM, where her first assignment was to roll out a new spa concept starting with The Legian. Ten years later, she has come full circle and is now renovating. “It had style and elegance, it was very refined, but now spas have become more. The expectation is higher from the guest, so we need to upgrade with hydrothermal facilities, whirlpools, special showerheads etc. Spa is evolving very rapidly with technology, impacting every aspect of the business.”

Despite the pull for the new, she is mindful of the value in the old too. “We try to use local healing traditions and plants indigenous to that country in all our spas,” she says. “My first qualification was as an aromatherapist. So I do the formulations for the massage oils based on the plants that grow in each property’s region.”

The spa scene in Asia is evolving naturally. Wellness has become part of spa, it’s not just relaxation anymore
~ Brenda Ramen