Note from Ilana

"Sweet 16"

When I reflect upon starting the Florida Spa Association, I remember the strength of my admiration for ISPA, the importance of unifying the spa community to educate and uplift. It was my belief that Florida in 2008, home to an abundance of existing and rising spas, deserved a dedicated regional organization – one that would connect, support, educate and provide resources tailored to our state. This realization was my watershed moment. I reached out to the spa directors I had been working with and was thrilled to find shared enthusiasm. Thus, we started the Florida Spa Association.

Our mission? To offer a platform for networking and collaboration, build meaningful relationships with companies and individuals, and become a collective voice for our spa community. By advocating our common interests and confronting industry challenges head-on, our aim was to serve as a vital resource for our members.

Our strength as an association is rooted in authenticity. We realized early on how important it was to promote a sense of belonging and well-being. Authenticity—a key trait of effective organizations—inspiring trust and loyalty among our members. It proved to be the compass that helped us navigate through challenges. But authenticity, we believe, goes beyond being a good organization. It’s about embodying who we truly are, embracing the unique character of our team members. I am proud to say that the board and committee members of the FSA have remained dedicated and united for many years because of our shared core values. We are authentic in our commitment to high performance, serving our spa community with passion by providing everyday support and hosting valued events for our spa community.

So, in recognition of our 16th year as the FSA, we welcome the celebration of our Sweet 16 at the prestigious Alfond Inn, in the majestic heart of Winter Park. The unique beauty of this venue, packed with stunning art collections, promises to inspire. Planned for our esteemed Resource Partners and Spa Leaders, we have curated an enriching day with cutting-edge exhibits, result-driven treatments, invaluable education session, and an array of luxury offerings, dedicated exclusively for our spa community. We are proud to offer a fruitful day where connection, wellness, and education meet!

There is immense power that transpires when a community connects to work toward the same goal!

Wishing Wellness,



Happy Passover to all that celebrate the holiday!

A Joyous Reminder of Collective Resilience this holiday

Passover reminds us of honoring the journey to freedom and embracing shared values of

hope, compassion, and community.

In celebration of the triumph of faith and delivering a message of enduring promise!


Congratulations to our Movers & Shakers

 Our extraordinary Spa Industry is continuously evolving through innovation and transformation.

Highly appreciated professionals in the Spa community take on new challenges and positions

as they start a new venture in their career.

Linda Higgs, Director of Spa & Wellness, Pier Sixty-Six Resort,

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Join us in celebrating the announcement of Linda Higgs, a seasoned spa and wellness expert, who has joined the newly re-imagined Pier Sixty-Six Resort as the Director of Spa & Wellness. With the grand opening set for this November, Linda will spearhead all stages of their initial operations, ranging from the conception of unparalleled spa treatments to establishing new retail lines and assembling an expert team. Linda's passion for crafting Ultra-Luxury experiences is recognizable and we are confident her guests, residents, members, and even locals will be captivated by the refined wellness journey she is about to unroll at her spa. Her stellar track record speaks volumes of her capabilities. With nearly 6 years of dynamic leadership at Auberge Fort Lauderdale, Linda deftly opened the spa and later ushered in its successful rebranding to EVARA Beach Spa. We have no doubt that the legacy she carries with her will enrich her resort, encapsulating it with an aura of exclusivity and serenity. Stay tuned in for an unrivaled spa under Linda's dedicated guidance, coming this November at Pier Sixty-Six Resort!

Scott Vogel, Director of Spa & Wellness, Evara Beach Spa, at Auberge Beach Residence, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

We’re thrilled to announce the ultimate in spa and wellness at Evara Beach Spa, now under the expert stewardship of their new Director - Scott Vogel. With 26 years of industry experience and a proven track record of launching thirteen exceptional properties, Scott has earned his sterling reputation in the spa and wellness sector. From the historic confines of The Arizona Biltmore to the glittering hallways of Caesars Palace; from the lush landscape of Turnberry Isle Resort to the exclusive realm of St. Andrews Country Club and the hustle and bustle of the New York Hilton, Scott's vast experiences have equipped him with unparalleled expertise. Scott’s commitment to unimpeachable professionalism, exceptional customer service, and creation of one-of-a-kind spa experiences makes him an excellent fit with our ethos at Evara Beach Spa. With Scott at the helm, it's all set to take the spa experience to the next level. Join us in giving a warm welcome to Scott Vogel - here's to exciting times ahead!

Shelby Kastykovsky, Spa Operations Manager, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Miami, Florida

Congratulations to Shelby for her new chapter as the Spa Operations Manager at the prestigious Forbes 5 Star Luxury Mandarin Oriental. Shelby bids farewell to her esteemed role as the Spa & Fitness Operations Manager at the Carillon Miami Wellness Resort, an establishment known for its unparalleled wellness offerings in unique therapies, advanced technology, and medically-focused treatments. Shelby's journey began at the Carillon as a Wellness Advisor, rapidly ascending through the ranks to the position of manager. Her hard-earned professional skills, unwavering dedication, and tenacious work ethic have paved the way for growth and bright opportunities. Beyond the professional achievements, Shelby is deeply thankful for the awe-inspiring individuals she had the honor of working with, who turned her tenure into an unforgettable experience. As she looks forward to her new role at the Mandarin Oriental Miami, her relentless drive and passion will certainly contribute to her growing success. Here's to Shelby's new beginning, and the extraordinary journey that lies ahead.


 The FSA Event - The Alfond Inn

Get ready to be enchanted at THE FSA EVENT - the epicenter of spa wellness in Florida that never fails to astonish its attendees. From the latest trends to pioneering exhibits, rejuvenating treatments, and education we’ve got it all in one place. This isn't just an event, it's a remarkable experience that consistently surpasses expectations.

So, SPA LEADERS don’t wait? "LET"S DO IT!

Secure your spot today and embark on an extraordinary spa experience

Let's do it!
  • Open registration "Let's do it" button above,
  • Application to Register - Click "+" sign
  • Continue & fill out all questions
  • Click complete


Mark Your Calendar with Us!

Discover the power of connection with Florida's #1 rated spa platform, dedicated exclusively to our vivacious local spa community. This is your opportunity to unite with industry leaders, exchange game-changing ideas, and broaden your professional network. Take your business to new heights of profitable growth and watch your business flourish.

Get on board with FSA & S4L Events!

This is your chance to get connected...grow your business!

Join us and let's elevate the Florida spa scene together.


"Voice-It" Spa Talk with Mitchell

Our Challenge as Spa Managers

After 40 years in the exclusive luxury hospitality spa & fitness industry* I can happily say that we have yet to truly reach our potential. What that looks like depends on your Spa’s culture and structure. But what that feels like happens when you begin leading with bravery that is driven by curiosity.

Don Miguel Ruiz in The 4 Agreements says, “Always do your best.” We managers have often have a lot of first-hand knowledge of what it feels like to be attended-on by the best. But do we know what is the formula behind this experiential chemistry that turns a brief moment into a forever memory?

Yes. We do. It requires inspiring our staff to live, eat and breathe our company culture. A culture that each person feels is worthwhile emulating, sustaining, and improving. That is our challenge as managers. Be inspirational with the sole purpose of inspiring others.

Another of the 4 Agreements says, “Don’t make assumptions.” So don’t assume succeeding at this is unattainable or requires an expensive CEU course. It is in your head. It comes from your heart. But it gets buried under the clutter of overextended workdays and time management landmines. Choose to begin this new journey and see where it leads.

My final 4 Agreements analogy is, “Be impeccable with your word.” Not just the ones you speak out loud, but the ones you whisper to yourself when you are silent. Be gentle with yourself as you go through your day. Sure, you need to tighten up your game, everyone does, but we all eventually cross the finish line at the end of each day.

“Your Word is Your Wand.” By Florence Scovel-Shinn is a book I read in my 20’s. It gives you a visual of saying something and it is manifesting, good or bad. So, when you criticize yourself, choose words that will inform you while calming your mind. Substituting the word opportunity for a mistake is a good start. You will eventually turn that mistake into an opportunity anyway!

Clearly, if you take good care of your mind, you will inspire the minds of your team members. You will get motivated by HOW to get things done and worry less about IF they will ever get done. It’s Springtime. Clean house. Freshen up your office and toss out things and thoughts that don’t serve you. Set yourself on a path of inner wellness and outer wow-ness!

*Mitchell Berkman has been an exercise instructor in Italy where he was trainer to the stars and also co-starred in “Muoviamoci!” a popular morning TV Fitness Program. He worked at The Golden Door Spa, Escondido, CA; Rancho La Puerta, BC, Mexico; The Golden Door Spa at Sea on Cunard’s QE2 and other 5-star cruise ships. He has been to over 70-countries and has circumnavigated the globe in 94 days. He speaks Italian, Spanish, French & Portuguese. Since 2013, he has been the Spa Director at Porto Vita in Aventura, Florida, a Forbes’ Boardroom Magazine’s Distinguished Club.


Mitchell Berkman

Spa & Wellness Director

Porto Vita Club at Villa Grande

FSA Committee Chair - Events


Ashlee Vergruggen, Spa & Wellness Director, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Miami

Meet Ashlee, a seasoned Spa & Wellness Director. With over a decade of industry experience, she started her illustrious career at Vash Spa Inc., in Texas, where she rapidly grew her expertise in beauty, wellness, and luxury spa brands from Europe and the United Kingdom. Being an adept learner, her journey with Vash saw her transition from Director of Distribution to Spa Training Manager, mastering every nuance of e-commerce, logistics, and social media marketing. Her proficiency extends to an impressive hands-on experience under celebrity estheticians, Linda Meredith, and Georgia Louise.

Moving to South Florida in 2021, Ashlee joined the renowned Biltmore Hotel as Spa Retail Supervisor. Her leadership and operational skills were immediately recognized, leading to a swift promotion to Spa Guest Services Manager, where she propelled the spa's day-to-day operations. Fast forward to 2023, Ashlee now leads the Forbes 5-Star team at Mandarin Oriental, Miami, as the Director of Spa & Wellness.

In addition, Ashlee is an essential team-member of the FSA, serving on the events committee. As a valued affiliate, she brings a unique blend of expertise and enthusiasm to our group, playing a vital role in making every event a success. We couldn't be more proud to have Ashlee on our team, where she continually inspires us with her dedication.


Outside of work, Ashlee enjoys unwinding with her family.  Fortunate to live within proximity of her sisters and their families, she has built an incredible bond with her nieces and nephews that she cherishes deeply. Curling up at home with a glass of wine, a good book, and her beloved cat Tilly by her side sounds like the perfect recipe for a cozy evening to her. It's a great way for Ashlee to recharge and find some peace and contentment. 

With an impressive track record of success and relentless passion for her work, Ashlee symbolizes commitment, excellence, and leadership in the spa and wellness industry.



emerginC began in 1996 with one of the most stable and effective vitamin C serums available. With a limited budget, no formal marketing plan, and no office—just a Manhattan studio apartment—they built their brand on buzz and grew by word of mouth. Over time, more products emerged and today they have a wide variety of amazing products, facials, and body treatments for all skin types. Never compromising on their commitment to quality and effectiveness, they continue to emerge.

Results, luxury, AND sustainability? Check, check, check!

The essence of emerginC

They work with top chemists and state-of-the-art labs to incorporate clinically-proven cosmeceutical and medical-grade ingredients, active botanicals, and marine extracts, and are always on the lookout for new technologies to ensure that, no matter your environment, the best of you keeps emerging.

Today, emerginC can be found at THE top spas and doctors’ offices in many countries around the world. emerginC delivers the results you deserve with an eye to sustainability, giving back, nourishing skin and spirits, and lighting the way for a better community—for everyone—to emerge.   

Leading the industry in sustainability

They have taken a leading role in giving back and sustainability with our “buy one, plant one” tree planting program—the first of its kind in the industry—and their innovative emerginBees bee habitat initiative and emerginCeeds organic vegetable program continue to set an industry-leading precedent for environmental initiatives.

At emerginC they source their ingredients ethically and sustainably wherever possible and include fair trade ingredients in their formulas. And they’ve upgraded from their Manhattan studio and are now headquartered in their own building near the waterfront in Brooklyn with a rooftop vegetable and herb garden, fruit trees, flowers, and hens that give us organic eggs all year round.

emerginC face and body care makes it easy with its industry-leading sustainability efforts that provide a real-world impact from tree-planting to ocean plastic prevention (ideal for Florida!). 

emerginC takes its sustainability goals seriously and can help you achieve yours. For every retail item purchased, emerginC plants a tree (over 1 million planted and counting!).

For every single item purchased, emerginC, along with its partners at Clean Hub, help prevent approximately 4 oz of plastic from entering coastal waters in developing countries—where most of the plastic enters—by helping to fund and build waste management facilities that stop the problem before it starts.

emerginC runs its headquarters on windpower, manufactures approximately 80% of its products with windpower, and incorporates glass, biodegradable resins and sustainably grown sugar cane plastics in its packaging choices. From their wildflower seed and bamboo toothbrush giveaways right down to the biodegradable tape and packing peanuts they use to ship orders, emerginC offers an industry-leading sustainability example in how to provide top quality results for your clients without compromise.


5 Ways to Unleash Your Work Superpower

Smart workers know they have hidden talents that will make them stand out. What are some of the best ways?

In a time of general professional anxieties—like right now—it’s great to know what your professional superpower is. Experts say a work superpower isn’t simply about the ability to do something really well: rather, it involves a combination of talent, experience, and, importantly, self-awareness. According to recent research, people who know their top strengths are six times as likely to say their job offers them the chance to do what they do best every day.

Read More

Laughter is the Best Medicine

It’s fun to share a good laugh, but did you know it can actually improve your health? Learn how to harness the powerful benefits of laughter and humor.

The benefits of laughter

It’s true: laughter is strong medicine. It draws people together in ways that trigger healthy physical and emotional changes in the body. Laughter strengthens your immune system, boosts mood, diminishes pain, and protects you from the damaging effects of stress. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hope, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert. It also helps you release anger and forgive sooner.

With so much power to heal and renew, the ability to laugh easily and frequently is a tremendous resource for surmounting problems, enhancing your relationships, and supporting both physical and emotional health. Best of all, this priceless medicine is fun, free, and easy to use. 

Read More


3 Ways to Make Your Spa More Sustainable

It’s hard to imagine a high street or retail park without a gym or fitness center, but while organized spaces...

It’s hard to imagine a high street or retail park without a gym or fitness center, but while organized spaces for physical activity are now commonplace, the gym is actually a relatively modern phenomenon. 

Structured exercise has roots in Ancient Egyptian, Chinese, Indian, Persian and Greek cultures. Still, it wasn’t until the 19th century that the idea of a fitness club first emerged in Europe and North America. Gold’s Gym opened its first premises in Los Angeles in the 1960s, and from the 1970s onwards, we started seeing the emergence of chain gyms, which made structured exercise more accessible to a broader audience. This has continued into the 21st century. Today, there are 4,880 gyms and fitness centres in the UK. In the US, there are 115,047 and rising.  

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Frozen Tiramisu Espresso Martini

These frozen espresso martinis draw inspiration from tiramisu, a popular Italian dessert. Here, coffee and espresso are used to create the frozen drink while mascarpone combines with cream to create a light, fluffy topping. Whip the cream until it’s just thickened, but doesn’t form soft peaks, or the mixture will be too firm to drink. Finish the drinks with a dusting of cocoa powder to mimic the iconic look of the dessert!

Get Recipe
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The Florida Spa Association
Phone: (561) 413-5843

Florida Spa Association network of spa professionals is unified by the desire to promote Florida as the finest destination for wellness and beauty experiences in the country.
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