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Holistic in Hawaii

By: Cathy Christensen
Posted: June 26, 2008, from the July 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
Marti Dunne photo

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She took her newfound passion for skin care back to The Hyatt and stated her case to a boardroom full of managers on why facials should be added to the all-massage menu. “They were very skeptical, and I really had to present the case to all these managers and convince them,” Dunne says. “They said I better know what I’m doing, and they approved it and it was successful; I was the only esthetician there.”

Still, time made for further changes in Dunne’s life. Twenty-five years of employment at The Hyatt combined with a recent divorce and the death of her mother convinced her it was time to move on. “I had so much loss and I realized that you can’t go back. I packed a suitcase, threw my cat in a box, flew to Maui and moved into my family’s studio apartment,” Dunne says.

After this move in 2002, she provided care for the elderly, performing facials for them in their homes. “I really got a lot of satisfaction out of it,” she says. “I was able to do that to support myself for a year or so.” Next, Dunne worked in a day spa and, while she acknowledges that she was very fortunate to get the job there, she admits it was kind of a dead end for her.

“I was getting more and more of a trapped feeling—I think this happens sometimes when you get to be a certain age and start thinking that all these young girls out of esthetic school are getting hired. I started feeling like I was too old. I had lost my confidence,” Dunne explains. Then, during a walk on the beach, she noticed a sign seeking massage therapists for a newly remodeled business.

After inquiring about the position, Dunne was immediately called back and her expertise prompted the owners of The West Maui Wellness Center to add skin care to the menu. And because of the facility’s focus on individual talents, Dunne has been able to design a flexible facial program. “To have the opportunity to create my own treatments feeds my heart and my soul and the creative process. I hope more flexible programs will be adopted by spas in the future,” she says. “The more mechanical processes result in really stressed workers.”