“I’ve held the same position at work longer than anyone I know,” laughs Susan Wheeler, spa director of The Avanyu Spa at The Equinox in Manchester Village, Vt., since 1987. And although she hasn’t made any drastic career changes, Wheeler has grown to become an expert in the industry, which is evidenced by the fact that she currently serves on the board of directors for the International SPA Association (ISPA). Through this prestigious position, she travels throughout the world, but this self-professed homebody always looks forward to returning home. “This is me, and this is where I want to be,” says Wheeler.
Throughout her childhood in Millbrook, N.Y., Wheeler always was interested in exercise—she was a competitive equestrienne and studied classical ballet. After learning about movement therapy in college, Wheeler became the director of a facility that focused on a variety of activities, such as tennis and aerobic dance. Several years later, she went on to form her own small dance company. Wheeler’s next step in life was a move to Vermont, where she found her current home at The Equinox in Manchester Village.
With a population of approximately 6,000, the tight-knit community supplies ample opportunity to become involved in charitable endeavors—a cause about which Wheeler is very passionate. “As a spa director, being involved in the community is important,” she explains. “If you want to be respected as someone who helps people, you have to live your life that way. There is so much payback you can get from these experiences.”