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You never know where life is going to take you—and Marti Dunne has proven this. Although currently the principal therapist and head esthetician at The West Maui Wellness Center in Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii, Dunne hails from an altogether different vacation destination—Las Vegas. And with Vegas as your hometown, it’s easy to believe that your career may take an unconventional turn.
“I had to wear pink hot pants, a pink wig and high heels at the Las Vegas airport in the 1970s to get people to rent cars. It was a gimmick, and I’m surprised that my father let me do it,” Dunne recalls. But it was her next job as a cocktail waitress, which involved spiked heels and corsets, that surprisingly led her down a completely different career path.
“I received a massage because of the stress and discomfort of my job, and I was so moved by the experience that I decided to take a massage class,” she says. “It was just a beginner class, but the incense, aromatherapy and the gliding movements focused and grounded me in a way I had never been grounded.”
After attending the School of Shiatsu & Massage in Harbin Hot Springs, California, Dunne says she had a spiritual experience. She realized she could become a successful massage therapist. “Because I have dyslexia, I can’t do the same kinds of things other people can do. I found out that this is something I was very good at,” she says.
Dunne began working as a massage therapist at The Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa & Casino in Incline Village, Nevada, in 1976. She was drawn to the quiet, serene atmosphere. “I liked the gentility, compassion and generosity of working with other bodyworkers,” she explains, and it was one of those co-workers who introduced Dunne to the world of esthetics. After six months of schooling, she earned her esthetic license in Carson City, Nevada, in 1994, and was able to take classes with skin care legend Howard Murad, MD. “I was so touched and inspired by his holistic view of the skin,” she says.