Taking 10 with...Lesley Bacon

Taking 10 with...Lesley Bacon

Sunday 18th March 2018

By Michelle Hammond

Q1 - How did your childhood influence your work ethic and attitude towards business?

I was very lucky to grow up in Hong Kong and as such was exposed to living in a very culturally diverse community and one that predominantly had great weather so I was able to play outside and enjoy so many activities which developed my love for sport, the sea and being outside.

Hong Kong also had a fabulous transport network so I was able to do things without being reliant on my parents to take me to places. HK thrives on an energy which is just all around you and as a child I loved the busyness and I loved the fact I could pretty much do anything I wanted, there were no limitations, my friends were from all over the world, their parents did some amazing jobs and we were encouraged to be the best of ourselves at school. We travelled a lot and saw many corners of the world which absolutely ignited my love of travel.

Q2 - What do you believe the principles of a successful business are today?

I believe a successful business has to have integrity and be ready to take stock of their actions and review the good and the bad on a regular basis. We learn from both - try to build on the good, reduce the bad and always be able to look at yourself in the mirror and feel you acted with integrity.

Q3 - Looking back, what was your best business decision?

I was offered the position of European Operations director by Esporta Health Clubs when I was a club manager in the UK. This was a big risk for the CEO at the time (which he told me) and was a big jump for me. I learnt a huge amount and had some exceptionally challenging situations to deal with but within a year I grew in experience and confidence, more than in many of my previous positions, it was a lonely year from a personal point of view and that was a balance that was hard to manage.

Q4 - Who has influenced you the most through your career?

I have been fortunate to meet some fabulous people in my career but someone who has been a great mentor to me is Martin Robinson who was the Chairman of Holmes Place (at the same time as Chairman of Center Parcs). I have found his guidance and insight over the years truly beneficial to the way I conduct myself and handle the challenges I come across.

Q5 - What was your most difficult / worst business decision?

I am sure I have made a number of poor decisions! a difficult one was deciding to leave my role as hotel manager overseas with Mark Warner as I loved so many aspects of the job, including living in stunning parts of Europe for summer/ winter seasons, working with some of the most fun, upbeat people from all over the world that I have ever come across (many of whom are still my close friends). It was however time to test myself in a new environment and so I moved back to the UK and into the world of large private health clubs.

Q6 - What would you say was the single most advantageous character trait for success?

The trait I think you need to have is, Go for it, Give it a go and Be positive in your ability. If you believe in yourself others will too. Stand tall, wear some colour (I find this gives me confidence) and don’t be late.

Q7 - What happens when you’re stressed or overwhelmed?

I don’t get very stressed at work. I hurry up and often wish things to be done sooner than is possible. I have learnt to not get exasperated with things, we work in a fabulous industry and we bring a lot of positives to people, being stressed helps no one and I think it’s important to choose your battles not be drained by things that actually are not big issues.

Q8 - How do you invest in your own wellbeing. How do you look after yourself?

I have moved house and now have a lovely garden which has a small fish pond (and I mean small). I cannot believe how relaxing it is to just sit in the garden at the end of the day with a glass of wine and chill watching my fish ! I also walk lots, I’m not a great runner but love to walk and swim. I have learnt to ride a bike as a late bloomer. I like being busy so my downtime is often filled with “other stuff” but I like that I’m not good at sitting for very long.

Q9 - If you could change one thing about the spa and wellness industry what would it be and why?

I think the spa and wellness industry is a wonderful industry with some incredible people within it, my wish would be that schools see this more and open the eyes to their students to what a fulfilling jobs and opportunities it offers. The industry is not visual enough to 14-16 year olds and I feel it is not understood enough by career advisors to this age group. We need a lot more young talent to join the spa world as we all know demand for therapist is outweighing supply.

Q10 - Finally, What’s your favourite quote or the best advice you’ve ever been given?

My best piece of advice is from my dad (he is a Humanitarian Aid Worker all over the world) you can’t save everyone but that does not mean you should not save someone. I think you can put this to good in business, but actually it is just a beautiful mantra on how we should help others.


1. What’s your favourite book?
Saint, Surfer and CEO

2. What’s your favourite film of all time?
Pretty Woman

3. If you could have dinner with anyone, past or present, who would it be and why?
Probably my grandparents who are now sadly not with us and ask them all the questions you never think of when you are small.

4. You get taken to your favourite place to be, where are you taken?
Hong Kong take the number 6 bus to Stanley market in the day, followed by harbour night boat trip.

5. Your perfect dinner is?
Salmon stir fry (one of the few things I can cook)

6. Your go to drink is?

7. Your favourite sweet treat is?
Plain fudge

8. What’s your favourite essential oil / scent?
Jasmine flower scent

9. You go for a treatment - what do you have and why?
Face & body combo as you get the best of both worlds with a deep tissue massage then facial.

10. What’s your favourite flower?

11. You want to sleep deeply, what do you do?
Have a bath with essential oils and light a candle (I do this most nights at home)

12. You want to energise fast, what do you do?
Stand up, stretch and try and get some fresh air.

13. The theme tune to your life is?
Very difficult to choose one tune but I love “sunchyme” by Dario G it is my mobile phone ring tone

14. What makes you laugh to your belly?
My sister - we can laugh over the littlest thing until we are crying.

15. What’s your favourite season?
Summer long nights because i can spend time outside. I love eating outside.

16. What’s your favourite colour?

17. Your favourite time of day is?

18. If you could have been anyone or anything else, what / who would you be?
I think it would be amazing to be an Olympic medal winner but I was never good enough in one sport to go that far.

19. What’s your current TV guilty secret?
SAS who dares wins

20. Magic dust - you can learn one new skill instantly, what is it?
Play the guitar (and sing)

Lesley was schooled in Hong Kong before returning to the UK to study leisure management at Leeds. Her first key positions were running large resort hotels for Mark Warner in Greece, Turkey and Italy through the summer months, then moving to Val D'Isere in France to manage the ski season in winter. Lesley moved back to the UK and joined Esporta Health clubs and after a year in the UK moved to Barcelona as European Director for Esporta, before moving from Esporta to Holmes Place as a regional manager before joining Hand Picked Hotels - a luxury collection of country house hotels and spa hotels 11 years ago.

Learn more about Lesley 

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