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Interview – Lisa Barden, Group Director of Spa & Wellness

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15 June 2021

Within Fairmont Windsor Park you will find the outstanding Fairmont Spa & Wellness, spanning 2,500m2 across two floors. It offers the ultimate approach to wellness and is inspired by nature. Setting an unprecedented standard in UK wellness, the experience extends beyond the spa to create a sense of tranquillity across the entire retreat.

We have interviewed Lisa Barden, Arora’s Group Director of Spa & Wellness to discover how she took the exceptional concept of Fairmont Spa & Wellness from dream to reality, and also where she gets her inspiration and energy from.

Lisa, the Fairmont Spa & Wellness is an outstanding and innovative project within the UK spa and wellness scene, what inspired you to create this concept in the first place? 


Our founder and chairman, Surinder Arora, was very clear about what he wanted for the project from the outset. It had to be fit for Kings & Queens and different to our competitor set so in actual fact the concept was a dream to work up. The UK spa industry has been catching up with the rest of the world in recent years in as much as the focus globally was on bringing together wellness and spa given they are so closely linked in terms of outcomes. Surinder is ambitious, as am I, and so to propose concepts such as Cryotherapy, personalised wellness plans and expanding out on normal leisure activities such as reformer and spin wasn’t too much of a challenge to have signed off. All stakeholders on this project have a deep connection with it, which makes it a joy to work on.


What are you most excited about with this opening? 


Too much to detail in one go but I suppose the most rewarding part would be to see how we can build a set of authentic services for a like-minded community all focused on becoming the best versions of themselves. Isn’t that what we all want?


What made you work in this field, and what has made you stay? 


I’m from a traditional hard working, no fuss and nonsense west country family where you work in industries to serve others. I have aunties & uncles who have been politicians, pharmacists, nurses, food scientists all the way through to advising on how to recognise modern day slavery in the work place so to find myself in a care giving industry that serves others to live a better life was inevitable. Combine my upbringing with my passion for Ayurveda and it’s no surprise I’m still here, still learning after decades working globally in an industry I feel strongly about. So much so I took the role of Chair of the UK Spa Association and still sit on boards whose goals are to enable the industry to open its doors to everyone. Even those living with life limiting conditions which is an area we plan to place much focus on at Fairmont Windsor Park in the years to come. The SATCC (Standards Authority for Touch in Cancer Care) of which I’m a board member was formed a few years ago to help make the change that was required with the training bodies, insurance companies and the operators’ mind-sets to allow those living with cancer for example to come to spas to receive gentle care for them and their carers during what is probably the most challenging time of anyone’s life.


How would you describe this incredible project in a few sentences? 


Transformational, authentic and community based. No gimmicks, just informed services that provide wellness on every level, be it a gel manicure all the way through to 4D scans, personalised wellness pathways and traditional hammam experiences. One stop spa & wellness shop for all.


What should guests expect from the Fairmont Spa & Wellness?


Friendly, down to earth world class service delivered by industry experts who feel as strongly as I do about living your best life.


Who inspires you in the industry? 


Actually it’s the public who inspire me the most. The resilience and steadfastness we see in the human spirit to keep going no matter what, but sometimes at a cost to their health. This is inspiration enough to seek out products, treatments and services that will help them on that journey with the ultimate goal being the transformation to a better way of life. Darwin said it wasn’t survival of the fittest that would secure humanity but the adapters. As our ever demanding lifestyles demand ever more from us, we must learn to adapt not only to survive but to thrive.


What do you do when you get some time off? 


Clearing up after and running around after the children, which funnily enough I don’t mind. Children are a gift to us and they’re only on loan to us for such a small period of our lives that I want to make the most of every moment I can with them (when I’m not working of course!). I love to kayak, travel, walk with friends, cook (flexitarian), practice yoga and there is nothing I love more than being stuck on a long car journey with the family and seeing how their lives are, how they feel and what’s going on in their lives. They can’t get away from a discussion nor dive onto their gadgets so once we’ve put the world to rights, we turn up the volume and play music as loudly as we can!


What is your own secret to health and wellbeing?


Knowing that change is permanent so learn to accept it, work with it and trust that the universe has your best interest at heart. Surround yourself with the things that you love, be present in the moment and be open to new ideas. I’m the eternal student and have a list of degrees/subjects I’d like to study however my personal life goal is to become an Ayurvedic Doctor but that’s going to have to wait until I’m older and greyer as there is still so much work to do for the industry.


What’s your top wellness tip?


Keep an open mind, trust your instincts and never give up. Be kind and grateful to all.


What would you tell your younger self about what you do for a living today?


Follow your heart not your head, learn from everyone you meet and give thanks for everyday and everyone you come into contact with.


Discover more about Fairmont Spa & Wellness, and how our team can help you reach your goals here.

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