Taking 10 with...Tanya Wheway

Taking 10 with...Tanya Wheway

Sunday 19th August 2018

By Michelle Hammond

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

Moving fairly often as a child living between UK, Malta and Singapore gave me an insight into different cultures. It also taught me how to handle change and be adaptable.

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

Interestingly this leads on very well from my answer in question one. We now live very much in an integrated global world and life is fast changing. We need to be able to embrace change, be resilient, take in the whole picture, be quick to recognise opportunities and be prepared to step outside our comfort zone. We also need to be prepared to learn new skills and take on new roles, especially with us now being expected to work well into our sixties and even seventies.

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

Probably deciding, at the age of 19, to go and work in America. At that time I found it to be what I would term ‘the home of positive thinking’. There's a rather apt quote: 'Americans are likely to say it may be difficult, but it is possible; whereas in the Brits are more likely to say it may be possible, but it is too difficult'!

After a spell in a kind of 'white slave trafficking" I climbed out of motel window to escape and did something I had had a yearning to do, which was to land myself a job in a luxury hotel in Washington DC. Here I was trained in hotel marketing which was a great introduction to the hospitality industry and started me on my path to Champneys!

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

Allan, my husband of 42 years who passed away nearly 10 years ago, and I were
very grateful to Dr Michael Sinclair who appointed us to run Champneys Tring in 1972. Michael also gave us one of the estate houses to live in, which we subsequently bought and this has been our family haven for 46 years; and in addition he introduced us to YPO (Young Presidents Organisation). This organisation has certainly been HUGE in our development both personally and professionally and provided us with the most incredible experiences and introduced us to fabulous people all over the world. My darling Allan, was also a huge influence, on my career.

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

To be too trusting, naïve and not, in business terms, politically savvy. Plus I was too detail focussed rather than being able to see the bigger picture….. I was too wrapped up in and passionate about making Champneys Tring the best it could be in terms of destination spa and holistic wellbeing and not reading the signs from the large corporation that Champneys was at the time owned by, Guinness. Neither Allan nor I were political animals.

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

I presume this question is directed at 'business success' rather than 'personal
success'.... they can, and often are, quite different in terms of 'character traits' required! As In both cases I am not sure there is 'single most advantageous character trait' for
success. I think one good answer with regard to business success is to have VPA: Vision, Passion and Action. Together these are an extremely potent cocktail. Many business people have one or two of these in place, but it is when you put all three together that it becomes particularly powerful and extraordinary heights of success can be achieved. There are people who have great vision and may also be very passionate but they just don’t put their dreams into action. Others are actioners, very busy doing, but are unable to see the big picture, be original and creative and pick up on trends and opportunities.

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

I am a person who rarely gets stressed or overwhelmed. I am rational and fairly pragmatic and of course I have taught PMA for decades…… and I practice what I preach!

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

'Balance' has, for decades, been my watchword! Not easy to achieve, but to always be
worked towards. It is wonderful for my holistic wellbeing to spend quality time with people I love and people who in some way enrich my life. I love exercising in the beautiful nature, gardening, learning, taking on new challenges…. These are all energising and rewarding and make life meaningful and fun.

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

Many spas bandy around the word ‘holistic’, and say they have a mind, body, spirit
(or soul) approach, but I think most staff working in the spa/s would be hard pressed to say how they really address the spirit/soul of their clients. It is important that spa owners, managers and staff walk the walk and not only talk the talk.
If I can add a few other items they would be to see more spas:

- Being very mindful and pro-active in helping their clients achieve meaningful
results, which go beyond just their visit to the spa.
- Being creative in ways to be more connected to their local community
- Offering and encouraging clients to have more of a spa journey experience rather
than just one-off treatments/isolated treatments.

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

I have many incredible quotes re being successful in business, but if I have to choose one I am happy to go with this:

“There is only one boss.

The customer.

And he/she can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down simply by

spending his/her money somewhere else.”

Sam Walton


1. What’s your favourite book?

Sorry I do not have a favourite book!

2. What’s your favourite film of all time

Sorry, I also do not have a favourite film!

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

Definitely my late husband Allan! He was the most charismatic, fun, interesting, romantic person to be with; we shared most of the same interests (except sport!); we were excellent business partners and he was a great dancer and we would dance anywhere if there was some good music!!!

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

My favourite place anywhere in the world is my home and after this it would be Maui, one of the Hawaiian islands, where Allan and I had our third wedding. I find this part of the world magical, delightful and spiritual.

5. Your perfect dinner is?

Large juicy prawns cooked with garlic and chilli served with a rocket salad and crusty
bread, followed by a breast of chicken dish with fresh asparagus that I once had cooked by Raymond Blanc at his Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons restaurant near Oxford and I have never forgotten the taste. The dessert would be as given below in question 7 or a perfectly made Zabaglione topped with crushed Ameretti Biscuits.

6. Your preferred drink?

A suitably chilled glass of vintage champagne, alternatively a really good Pouilly-Fumé or Pouilly-Fuissé.

7. Your favourite sweet treat is?

A bitter dark chocolate mousse with plump, juicy British raspberries – however, I rarely eat dessert as my preference is usually for a savoury end to a meal.

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

Dior’s J'adore Eau de Parfum

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

My dream treatment is a Shirodhara with a four hands massage – it is the most relaxing and indulgent treatment. This treatment to be preferably taken in an open-air therapy pavilion in Asia that is connected to the nature with the sounds of tropical birds and a nearby gurgling stream….. pure heaven!

10. What’s your favourite flower?

A beautifully scented English rose

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

Have a delicious but light meal with a good glass of white wine; have a leisurely bath with Aromatherapy Associate essential oils, candles and lovely music and have goodnight cuddles with my family who live with me. My bedroom would be all pristine and clean linen sheets on the bed, and then actively let go of any challenges I may be facing and settle down counting my blessings after saying my usual words of goodnight to the spirit of Allan. That has got to be a pretty perfect way to end the day…… however, in reality I often stay up working at my desk until 2 or 3 in the morning!!!

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

Do my 5 Element ritual, which just takes approximately 4 minutes, or go for a brisk walk in the beautiful nature.

13. The theme tune to your life is?

Maybe it should be something like ‘Get me to the Church on Time’ as I always seem to be running late!!! But instead I will go for ‘Keep a Dream in Your Pocket’ by The Seekers – it is quite a good tune, and really good and apt words! Other favourites would be ‘What a Wonderful World’ sang by Louis Armstrong and ‘Imagine’ by John Lenin….. again really great, great words.

14. What makes you laugh to your belly?

I am not really a belly laughing type, but I do recall when I was on a trip around the world recently with my 22 year old granddaughter, Emily-Anne, we did get a fit of the giggles, which totally immobilized us for some time – it was wonderful to share and left us feeling great.

15. What’s your favourite season?

My favourite month is May in the UK – it is so stunningly beautiful.

16. What’s your favourite colour?

I don’t have one favourite colour. If I had to choose one it would be white. In a spa interior if I had to choose a very limited palette I would select neutral tones with some white, a little gold and some selected wood finishes. For interiors in my home my choice is predominantly selected shades of yellow (sunshine) with accents of forest green (the nature) and ruby or cranberry red (for positive energy) – these colours work so well with the seasons of spring, summer and winter (including Christmas one of our favourite times of the year)….. the colours can even be made to work in autumn with some russet tones (autumn leaves) added.

17. Your favourite time of day is?

I don’t have a particular favourite time of the day…… however, I do love the beautiful
warm glow of evening sunlight and adore a gorgeous sunset.

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

I truly would not want to be anyone else.

19. What’s your current TV guilty secret?

I don’t deal in ‘guilt’ but I have watched Coronation Street for 50 years!

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

To be able to dance (and really well) the Argentine Tango!

Tanya’s childhood was spent in UK, Malta and Singapore. At the age of 19 she went to work in America and this is where she started her career in the hospitality industry getting a job in the marketing department of the luxury Mayflower Hotel, Washington DC. On returning to the UK 18 months later she opened an international marketing office for the Hotel Corporation of America and Western International Hotels based at the Carlton Tower in London.

Following training as Joint Hotel Managers with Trust House Forte together with her husband, Allan, they ran hotels in Wales and Scotland before taking over the running of Champneys Tring Health Resort in 1972. During their first sixteen years operating Champneys they founded the Champneys College of Health and Beauty and developed and operated private nursing homes, hospitals and a psychiatric clinic. They also operated, for a time Champneys at the Meridien in Piccadilly and Stobo Castle in Scotland.

On leaving the Champneys Group in 1989 they formed their own company, Wheway
Lifestyle International Limited (WLI), and over the next twenty years they created award winning spas all over the world including Chiva-Som in Thailand, four times voted ‘Best Destination Spa in the World’ by Conde Nast readers. Contracts were secured by WLI to create hotel and resort spas for such prestigious international hotel groups as Ritz Carlton, Shangri-La, Marriott, Luxury Collection, Westin, Sheraton, Meridien, Kempinski and Oberoi. Tanya was Managing Director of The Sanctuary in Covent Garden when Wheway Lifestyle owned it over a period of 4 years, during which time she quadrupled the profits catering to 36,000 day spa visitors a year.

Over the years Tanya has carried out a number of interior design projects including the Abama Spa in Tenerife and a holistic retreat for Kempinski in Zanzibar. In 2012 Tanya returned to Champneys Tring, albeit this time ‘wearing a different hat!’, to run a programme she created entitled ‘Fab@50+’ and her current programme at Champneys is ‘Attitude is All’. Also in recent years Tanya has turned to journalism, she has had three books published on the Mind, Body and Spirit, numerous articles and is currently near completion of another book.

To raise funds for the local hospice that helped her and Allan when he was in the last stages of cancer, Tanya has completed Go Ape and a sky-dive! In 2014 to raise money for the Hospice and Prostate Cancer, completely on her own, she hiked the 500 mile (800 km) internationally renowned pilgrimage trail, ‘Santiago de Compostela’ across northern Spain, which included two mountains. Tanya, who has two children and six grandchildren, is now raising money for an orphanage in Nepal which she and her granddaughter volunteered at earlier this year.

Tanya is a member of YPO (Young President’s Organisation) where she has created and ran high powered international conventions and retreats and been a Forum Moderator. She also provides mentoring services for young budding YNG entrepreneurs. From January 2016 to September 2017 Tanya was Education Chairman for YPO Gold London and recently received two YPO European awards for ‘Best of the Best’ programmes and events.

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