Franziska Haala


I inherited my desire to travel from my great grandmother. It’s in my blood.” Not just any old package vacations for Franziska, either: she backpacked through India when she was just a few months out of high school. Alone.
I was interested in both the reconstructive and the aesthetic side. I got into medical school in Germany.

Director of Spa Operations, Carmel Valley Ranch and Ventana Inn and Spa

The traveling life is very much a part of the spa life. It’s one of the great things about this industry (one of the many great things), the ease with which the spa life transfers almost seamlessly from country to country. So even if Franziska Haala’s hometown of Erfurt, Germany, is a long way from Carmel Valley, California, the spa passport made it an easy journey.

“I inherited my desire to travel from my great grandmother. It’s in my blood.” Not just any old package vacations for Franziska, either: she backpacked through India when she was just a few months out of high school. Alone. “It’s one of my favorite travel memories because during that trip I felt like I really made the transition to adulthood. It was a very raw and somewhat unnerving experience in some ways, but totally exhilarating too.”

Thanks to her career in spa and hospitality she has had many opportunities to travel. But how is the travel bug in her blood? “My great grandmother was born in Prague to a family that owned a touring carnival, they were never in the same place for more than a few days. When she gave birth to my grandpa, she settled down by getting off a train in a small town in Germany and creating a home for herself and her children. Just like that. No planning, no guidance. She just picked a place and did it.” Her great grandmother was fond of saying that sometimes things just fall into place the way they are supposed to, a saying she lived her life by.

In many ways, that philosophy that can be applied to Franziska’s spa career: when she was a teenager she dreamed of becoming a plastic surgeon. “I was interested in both the reconstructive and the aesthetic side. I got into medical school in Germany, but I interned in my local hospital and realized that rather than work in a hospital what I actually wanted to do is help people be their best. So I spent two years studying medical esthetics instead. I think my parents were disappointed at the time. I don’t blame them – what parent wouldn’t want their child to become a doctor?” That disappointment faded fast when they saw her career progress, and bring her happiness and opportunity. When they realized a medical career wasn’t meant to be.

Just as there is more to life than trying to please your parents, there is more to travel than experiences. There are also souvenirs. “I try to collect things from my travels, usually pottery. I always get two pottery items when I travel, like a set of coffee cups, which means that if I have one friend over to my house we drink out of the same cups, but if it is more than two people everyone drinks out of different cups. It keeps my travel memories alive.” Not everyone in spa is a traveler, but like almost every spa traveler, Franziska finds her own unique path.


I inherited my desire to travel from my great grandmother. It’s in my blood.” Not just any old package vacations for Franziska, either: she backpacked through India when she was just a few months out of high school. Alone.