Taking 10 with...Maggie Gunning

Taking 10 with...Maggie Gunning

Sunday 30th June 2019

By Michelle Hammond

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

I took my first job at 11yrs old doing the paper round and pretty much always had a Saturday job throughout school and college. I was influenced by my parents who both worked hard all their life to support and bring up seven children.

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

It starts with an inspiring, visionary leader who can attract and retain a great team. Of course it requires a strong business plan, and investment, but without the former the business probably won’t last.

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

It was more of a best career move that led me to start my own spa consultancy business. I moved to Hong Kong in 1991 to become a Spa Director. 10 years later I started my spa consultancy business when I moved to Singapore, which I sold to A W Lake Spa Concepts Pte Ltd in 2010.

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

I greatly admired Geraldine Howard (Aromatherapy Associates). A truly wonderful business woman with absolute grace and class.

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

I can’t say I’ve had a worst business decision. Selling my spa consultancy business was probably the most difficult decision, but it was the right time because I would have needed to change the business model in order to continue to grow it, which I didn’t want to do at the time.

I have tried to make decisions to effect the desired outcome. Sometimes, this can entail a lot of back and forth negotiating which can be stressful and not always result in getting exactly what I wanted but on the whole I’ve been happy with the outcome.

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

Hard to pick just one. You have to have an abundance of resilience and tenacity to deal with what life throws at you. And in this day and age integrity is critical because it indicates an honest and truthful character who is committed and delivers on their promise.

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

I don’t eat much and can’t sleep. I make up for it when I get over the
stressful patch though.

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

I work out at the gym 2- 3 times per week. I have had the same personal trainer for 15 years. I wouldn’t be able to lift some of the weights if she wasn’t there to just give me that extra push.

I try to go to the running track at 6.30am twice a week for my own version of a HIIT workout. After the workout I try to follow through with an Ashtanga yoga type routine to help release tension in the muscles and help improve my posture. It makes a huge difference to my overall wellbeing.

From time to time I do seek advice from a qualified nutritionist. 

Also, I go for a full medical x1 per year to check blood markers, bone density etc. As the saying goes prevention is always better than cure.

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

I would like to see more highly qualified therapists on the wellness side as that is where the industry is heading. Clients are becoming even more knowledgeable and savvy about their health, therefore they need to be advised by knowledgeable well qualified therapists.

In Asia, in particular, we need better qualified spa managers with strong business acumen in order to make smart, strategic business decisions to lead the business to success.

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

Quote: I live by, “You are the company you keep”
Best Advice: I have never forgotten this, but about 30 years ago over dinner with friends including one who was quite a successful business person (over time turned millionaire, now billionaire..!!), advised me, “Be nice to the people on the way up, as they may be the same people you meet if you find yourself on the way down.”


1. What’s your favourite book?

Not sure about most favourite but a memorable most inspirational
one is: How to Build A Nation – Lee Kuan Yew
Many may not have agreed with his politics, but he deserves respect for taking Singapore out of poverty within 50 years and turning it into a 1st world economy, ranked 2nd in the world for innovation in 2018.

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

So far, the British film, Marvellous – Funny, sad, but ultimately an inspiring message that shows how a person can see the good in all humans and the kindness of people towards others.

3. If you could have dinner with anyone, past or present, who would it be and why?

Graham Norton – Love his Irish, dry wit.

4. You get taken to your favourite place to be, where are you taken?

Anywhere in nature. That could be a deserted, pristine clean beach or a mountain top. As long as there is peace, fresh air and sunshine I’m happy.

5. Your perfect dinner is?

With my husband, especially if he is cooking.

6. Your go to drink is?


7. Your favourite sweet treat is?

85% Dark Lindt Chocolate – it’s slightly bitter but if you melt a small part of it in hot water you get a slight sweet taste in your mouth which continues to melt – one square is perfect for after dinner.

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

Sicilian Blood Orange.

9. You go for a treatment - what do you have and why?

A Deep Cleanse Facial with a great face, neck and decollete massage. Completely relaxes and rejuvenates me at the same time.

10.What’s your favourite flower?

Siberian Lillies, as they produce huge blooms and the scent is amazing.

11.You want to sleep deeply, what do you do?

Hot, essential oil bath with epsom salts and a magnesium supplement. Then to bed with a good book. I’ll be a sleep in minutes.

12. You want to energise fast, what do you do?

Super Brain Yoga (Thoppu Karanam) – super simple and can be done pretty much anywhere.

13.The theme tune to your life is?

Morecambe & Wise – Bring me Sunshine – and it has to be M & W’s version, including the “skip dance” routine.

14. What makes you laugh to your belly?

Definitely my husband. Brilliant, dry sense of (Yorkshire) humour.

15.What’s your favourite season?

Summer – it’s the best to put you in a happy mood.

16. What’s your favourite colour?

White mixed with pastel or navy blue

17. Your favourite time of day is?

Early morning before anyone gets up.

18. If you could have been anyone or anything else, what / who would you be?

A classically trained world class singer, ballerina or pianist – well you did ask. :-)

19. What’s your current TV guilty secret?

Victoria – Jenna Coleman plays the part so well.

20. Magic dust - you can learn one new skill instantly, what is it?

To be the female version of Brian Cox. Having the ability to distil difficult scientific concepts and explain them in the most enthusiastic, engaging and humorous manner, which motivates even the most science phobic person to want to learn more is a true

Maggie Gunning, Spa Consultant

Maggie has spent much of her time in Asia and Europe gaining, her experience in five star hotel spas and resorts.

Maggie's spa consulting services have included market feasibility studies, creating innovative spa concepts and managing the spa developments through to the spa pre-opening, for hotel groups including Swire Hotels, Tradewinds, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Jumeirah, ITC Welcomgroup, Hilton Hotels, Ishin Group as well as exclusive and highly prestigious luxury boutique projects such as Zaya Retreats, Abu Dhabi. Former owner of consulting firm SpaSynergy, Maggie continues to work as an independent consultant and in association with A. W Lake Spa Concepts Pte Ltd.

Maggie is a fully qualified aesthetician in face and body treatments. She has also coached both the practical and theoretical sides of spa related treatments and acted as international examiner for the Confederation of International Beauty Therapy & Cosmetology, UK.

Contact: maggie@awlakedesign.com

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