Q&A: The Del’s Lead Massage Therapist Derek Satchell on How to Achieve the Perfect Spa Experience

Derek Satchell, Lead Massage Therapist at Hotel del Coronado

The Del’s recently reimagined Spa & Salon is a true coastal sanctuary. From the vanishing edge pool and private spa terrace to the luxurious Marilyn Monroe-inspired beauty bar, Spa & Salon offers the ultimate setting to indulge in an array of massage and facial treatments. We sat down with Lead Massage Therapist Derek Satchell — a professional with over 17 years of experience in the field — to learn the ins and outs of what makes the perfect spa day, details on his approach to massage therapy, tips for how to recreate The Del’s spa experience at home and much more.

What is your background in massage therapy and what inspired you to become a massage therapist?

My interest in massage therapy began as a result of receiving numerous massages following years of physical training as an amateur runner and weight trainer. While living in Utah in 2002, I participated in the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympic Winter Games and had the opportunity to speak directly with numerous athletes on the benefits of massage relative to enhancing their health, performance and overall well being. I am a California State Certified Massage Therapist (CMT) with more than 1000 classroom hours of study, and have practiced massage therapy for over 17 years.

What brought you to the spa at The Del specifically (and when did you join the team)?

Having had the opportunity to visit or reside in many different places throughout the country (either for school or work), I’ve always wanted to live near the ocean. In 2011, I moved to San Diego and visited the Hotel del Coronado for the first time. I was completely enamored by the Hotel’s esteemed history, architectural beauty and tranquil oceanfront setting. So when I noticed that the hotel had a spa, I was determined to join their team. I was elevated to the role of Lead Massage Therapist in 2015 enabling me to contribute to the creation of new menu items, train new hires, and teach numerous specialty spa treatments, in addition to doing massage.

What do you find rewarding about massage therapy and helping people feel more relaxed?

As a massage therapist, I work peacefully in a luxurious setting, listening to soothing music all day, and meeting interesting people without the stress commonly associated with other professional occupations. Working as a therapist at the iconic Hotel Del is what transforms this into a dream job. I am always delighted knowing people are typically glad to see me and my reward is knowing that they usually leave me in a better state of mind and body following their service.

How has the recent reimagination of the Del impacted and elevated the experience at the spa?

The original premise of the Hotel del Coronado by Babcock and Story was to serve as a world-renown resort not only for luxury but also for health and promoting wellbeing given its spectacular location and natural setting. The recent updates made to the hotel property and spa continue to serve in this capacity. Aspects of the property have been organized to enhance the overall historical essence of the property while utilizing space more effectively for necessary additions and improvements.

What can you tell us about the spa experience? What are you hoping to help guests achieve by the end of their session?

Our intent at the Spa and Salon at The Del is to serve as a coastal sanctuary by the sea for our spa guests. We offer unique treatments and services utilizing natural products and ingredients from the earth and the sea. Our newly created Marilyn Monroe-inspired salon, now known as our Beauty Bar also features ocean-influenced services. Together, the Spa and Salon at The Del create a wonderful retreat for “head-to-toe” rejuvenation, while tapping into the historical sense of place that makes the Hotel del Coronado an unforgettable experience.

What are some of The Del Spa’s favorite products that guests can use to achieve that spa-like experience at home?

There are a host of popular ocean and plant-based products, as well as retail items, that guests can purchase that can assist them in continuing their spa experience at home. Our Voya Lavender Sugar Body Scrub with essential oils and granulated cane sugar can be used to exfoliate dead skin cells and revitalize dull lifeless skin leaving soft, silky smooth and refreshed. A favorite spa accessory is the Bear microcurrent facial toning device by Foreo that safely and effectively massages and tones the muscles in your face and neck for lasting results. We also offer our ever-popular plush spa robes by Mansfield; carry chic and comfortable activewear by ALO Yoga, and a wide array of scented candles to further help one unwind at home.

What is your favorite part of the whole spa experience? What can guests look forward to?

My favorite part of the Spa at The Del’s coastal sanctuary spa experience is how all five of the human senses (smell, sound, touch, taste and sight) are positively engaged in an effort to promote relaxation and rejuvenation. From the moment guests enter the spa, they are met with the pleasant array of calming scents emitting from our candles and body products distributed throughout the spa retail area. In preparation for their spa treatment, the coziness of our signature plush spa robes and inviting lounges helps our guests to further unwind as they await their chosen service. The spa menu offers a variety of ocean-inspired services and even our spa music is infused with the sound of waves to induce tranquility and emphasize your seaside spa experience. Our friendly and skilled team of massage therapists, aestheticians, nail technicians, and hairstylists enjoy the freedom to adapt each of their touch services to accommodate individual needs to leave one feeling renewed and refreshed.

What advice or tips do you have for individuals looking to recreate that relaxation experience at home — especially during the stress of the Holiday season?

The most important aspect of the spa experience is the quiet and peaceful opportunity it affords us to temporarily “unplug” from the rest of the world. My advice to those looking to recreate a similar experience at home is to allow yourself adequate solitary downtime to pause and refresh. Although having the sensory experience of a spa is wonderful, that may not always be feasible or accessible. A spa-like remedy may be as simple as turning off electronics, dimming lights and sitting quietly for a few moments. Listening to soothing music while taking time to soak in a warm bath is another example. Reconnecting with nature is another great way to relax by taking a stroll through a local park or by walking along the beach.

What aspects of the spa experience at the Del differentiate it from other spas?

Typically spas are remembered by the various amenities they may offer. Our spa comes with jacuzzis and steam rooms in our wet areas and an outdoor pool. However, the Spa at The Del is the only one in San Diego that has a direct view of the ocean from our pool terrace and is located steps away from one of the ten top-rated beaches in the country. My favorite aspect of the spa are our brand new articulated hydraulic massage tables that are not commonly found elsewhere.

What is the one thing you hope guests take home with them after a visit to the spa?

The single most important thing I hope guests take home after their visit to any spa is that relaxation is not a luxury, but a routine necessity required for health and self-preservation. Most people would not dispute the necessity of maintaining our homes, cars and other personal property. The same must be done for our mind and body if we want to enjoy the long-term benefits of optimal health and wellbeing.