Todd Shaw


I gained invaluable experience in dealing with multi-cultural customers, which would have been impossible without leaving home. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
I gained invaluable experience in dealing with multi-cultural customers, which would have been impossible without leaving home. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

The Peaks Resort & Spa
Current ISPA Chairman

Sometimes the relentless pursuit of what you want is the only way to get it.

Growing up in rural New York State, ISPA Chairman Todd Shaw knew he wanted to do something different. For him, that meant working in the cruise industry. But it took a Herculean task of persistence: eighteen months of what he calls “weekly harassment phone calls”.

Why was it so difficult to get hired? As a young fitness fanatic with experience in aerobics teaching and a degree in Exercise and Sports Science, Todd was more than qualified to find a position in a buoyant industry that was undergoing a significant expansion. That wasn’t the problem. Todd’s problem was that he is American.

It sounds extraordinary but the cruise industry was, and to a great extent still is, a world unto its own. “The problem wasn’t that Americans weren’t wanted for their lack of skills or qualifications, or that they might not get on well with customers,” Todd says. “It was just assumed Americans would not put up with the long hours and low pay of the cruise industry. But at that time in my life money didn’t matter that much to me.”

Eventually Todd got lucky. Just as he was making his usual Friday afternoon phone call to the human resources representative, to express his interest in working for them, someone else was leaving the company. “They needed someone fast. I was ready to pack my bags and leave my hometown at a moment’s notice. I hadn’t even seen a cruise ship until I turned up for work the following Monday.”

Despite his tough start, Todd recalls his days at sea with great fondness. “I gained invaluable experience in dealing with multi-cultural customers, which would have been impossible without leaving home. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

By the age of 28 Todd was overseeing 12 international spas – an unlikely if not impossible feat had he not pestered a cruise line into giving him that first shot. By the time he left the industry, he had visited 53 countries and had gained knowledge and experience that made the rest of his career possible.

Having managed and opened onboard spas and fitness centers across the globe, including in Germany, Singapore, France, and Mexico, Todd decided to rest his sea legs and return to dry land. What he didn’t leave behind is the globetrotting lifestyle of the cruise industry.

Todd has remained restlessly energetic. His first spa industry job was at Canyon Ranch in Arizona, a place that had the “reputation and the vision” that he wanted to be a part of. “You lose the fear of moving on to the next opportunity. You get to a certain point and your operations are in maintenance mode, but I’m not a maintenance guy. So I have always looked for the next adventure.”

Now that Todd is with Hilton in California, he sees perhaps the most permanent base of his career. A global business suits a globetrotter.

As does more education, which is why Todd decided to do an MBA relatively late in his career. “I could have made a very good living, and I am sure a very happy living, managing spa and fitness operations. But I wanted to be involved in the entrepreneurial side of the industry too, with taking a business to where it can go. Starting to see great things happen, seeing new excitement in employees and customers, is what I love to do and have done ever since.”

One constant throughout Todd’s career in the spa industry has been ISPA. Currently our Chairman, Todd is a vocal, industrious, and enterprising supporter of everything we do.

“Everyone I know through ISPA inspires me,” he says. “The members have a passion for this industry, I feed off their energy and their excitement. We are a very tight, sharing and supporting community. I’ve spent my career meeting and helping people, but at ISPA it’s about more than that. I am constantly inspired by the passion and the professionalism of our members.”

We are privileged to have him ‘on board’.


I gained invaluable experience in dealing with multi-cultural customers, which would have been impossible without leaving home. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.