Jaana Roth


When I told my grandmother that I was going to university to study business she was stunned that anyone would even want to do that. Eventually she said ‘well someone has to sell all of that junk they make, so it might as well be you.
I was asked to help out in the spa because the Spa Director went on leave. That was 15 years ago. I love the spa business.

Spa Director, Four Seasons Resort O'Ahu at Ko Olina

Talk about one extreme to another: how does Estonia to Hawaii sound? Hawaii, with its year-round tropical climate and warm seas, is a little different from Estonia, on the Baltic Sea coast. After all, Brits use the word “Baltic” to describe bitterly cold weather. It must feel like an out-of-world experience, to put it mildly. One that Jaana Roth, Spa Director at the Four Seasons in Ko Olina, is loving.  

Jaana’s journey is all the more remarkable because that she grew up in a country that was part of the Soviet Union. Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, is a remarkable city too. “Half of Tallinn was built during the Soviet era, containing the brutalist concrete architecture we associate with Soviet Russia. The other half is a beautiful medieval city with winding cobblestone streets and amazing old buildings. Sadly, very few people here have even heard of Tallinn!”

In Soviet Estonia, even getting into the hotel industry was a major challenge. “I always wanted to travel, but travel dreams were usually no more than that. I was lucky, my mother worked in a hotel, so I got a glimpse of what existed outside communist Europe. I always believed I could live that dream.”

Studying business also conflicted with Jaana’s family, well-known in Estonia as writers and artists. “When I told my grandmother that I was going to university to study business she was stunned that anyone would even want to do that. Eventually she said ‘well someone has to sell all of that junk they make, so it might as well be you.’”

By the time Jaana had finished her degree the Soviet Union had collapsed and travel restrictions were lifted. She was able to spend a year nannying in Sweden, then another in Santa Barbara. From there she was accepted at the Conrad Hilton School of Hotel Management at the University of Houston. “Four Seasons hired me the day after I graduated. Languages are so important in our industry. I may have had a very different childhood to most people here, but I am grateful that it forced me to become multi-lingual.”

Like so many of us, a bit of luck is what got her into the spa world. “I was asked to help out in the spa because the Spa Director went on leave. That was 15 years ago. I love the spa business.” Jaana also loves exploring and studying indigenous treatments and infusing these ancient practices into a modern spa setting. “The ingredients found throughout different cultures are as compelling as the treatments.  In Hawaii we have incorporated rare ingredients such as ‘alaea’ – a Hawaiian red volcanic clay - to eliminate toxins while promoting healthy skin, guavas to improve skin texture, and native Hawaiian mamaki used for lowering blood pressure.”

Speaking of ingredients, Jaana still feels the odd pang of nostalgia about the foods she grew up with in Estonia: black rye bread and Kalev marzipan chocolates. But the Hawaiian life is very much to her liking. And who can blame her – it’s very far from “Baltic”!


When I told my grandmother that I was going to university to study business she was stunned that anyone would even want to do that. Eventually she said ‘well someone has to sell all of that junk they make, so it might as well be you.