Name: Joy Menzies – no nickname
Born: Derbyshire, UK
Education: BA (Hons) Business Studies
Family: Original family – Mum, three brothers and a sister
Profession (now and in the past): Wellness Consultant, formerly Managing Director of Chiva-Som Health Resort and formerly F&B Owner/Operator
Where do you live?: Between Bangkok and Khao Tao, Hua Hin
First job?: Pickfords Removals in Enfield, Marketing Manager
What does your company offer? – We conceptualise, set up and provide management mentoring for Wellness Communities, Wellness Centres and Wellness Resorts
Any partners?: Yes, my sister Sharon Menzies and good friend and colleague Samantha Foster. We all worked at Chiva-Som together. Sharon works from the UK now and Sam out of Australia.
Why this profession as a career?: I can make a difference in people’s lives. Through the resorts and centres we can help people get back on track whether that’s emotional recovery, weight loss, stress reduction, recovery from a chronic disease.
What brought you to Thailand, and when?: 1991, it was part push factor to escape from the British weather and part pull to experience somewhere hot and exotic. At that time I didn’t know Asia at all and travelled for a year between Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Sydney, Bangkok. My first and last stop was Bangkok, which is completely fell in love with.
A few years later we converted the two Bangkok locations into pubs – The Bull’s Head and the Barbican. The Bull’s Head in Sukhumvit Soi 33/1 is the original Royal Oak. I took a bet with one customer who didn’t believe I could make the transformation from the Angus Steak House to the Bull’s Head in just four weeks. We were nailing down the floor boards about 10 minutes before opening but we did indeed open in time. I won a nice crate of champagne for that!
Tell us about your current company My work now, with DSM Wellness Management, is to assist owners and developers to conceptualize, build and operate wellness services. We mostly work on large scale projects which may include hotel and residential components.
We have set up resorts in Bali and India, a functional wellness centre in Bangkok (BodyConscious) and currently working on three wellness resorts in China and conceptualizing wellness real estate communities for a group in Singapore. In London, my partner Sharon is working on establishing a bio-hacking centre.
What are the most popular treatments? In BodyConscious our most popular services are diagnostic services. Our clients often want to know what’s really going on with them – they want to understand the root cause of their challenges. Many of our clients have conditions such as diabetes, obesity, irritable bowel syndrome, libido or other hormonal challenges – they initially see a Functional Medicine Doctor who prescribes the tests and guides them towards natural changes.
What else do you offer? We also offer natural face lifting with acupuncture and guasha and some high tech body treatments to help reduce fat. We all want to feel and look our best!
What’s your customer mix, by age, nationality, gender? In our first year we were 2/3 foreign guests and 1/3 Thais, we have worked hard to turn that around and we are now 2/3 Thais and 1/3 foreigners. Initially Thais were not so familiar with Functional Medicine/Holistic Health but now recognize it as a powerful tool for health and especially during COVID they have started to recognize the importance of Preventative Health. Ages vary widely.
We have quite a lot of young girls in their 20’s and early 30’s with gut health and hormonal issues. Our longer programmes are popular with the 50-up group – where a lifetime of not worrying too much has caught up with them!
What or who influenced your life and career? My Mum’s only sister, who was a nurse, left the UK when she was around 18 (early 1950’s). She went to live in Africa where she had what I saw as a glamorous life. She opened my eyes to the ability to work and live outside of the UK.
In my first job at Pickfords, one of the older managers told me he wished he’d have travelled. It was said with such regret. As soon as I heard that I booked my ticket to Thailand!
In 2000 I went to a spa conference and heard about a place called Chiva-Som. I knew right there and then that I wanted to work there. Meeting K Boonchu Rojanastien, the owner, was an amazing moment. He had endured many years of his resort being unsuccessful but he knew deep down it would take off and it is now famous around the world attracting global celebrities. He inspired me to keep going, even in the face of things not working out, because when you are doing the right thing it will work.
Any life philosophy? Be kind to yourself, to each other, to animals and to the environment
Best and worst early work experiences? Worst, preparing a presentation for the Pickfords President in front of an audience of 300. No power point in those days, we created presentations from 35mm slides. The venue used a stackable slide system and the slides came out in completely the wrong order. Awful! I still cringe thinking about it! Catastrophe! Best moment – being told I had the job at Chiva-Som. I knew in that moment I was on a new path.
Most interesting clients, and most famous?
I spent a lot of time with Sir Clement Freud during his regular visits to Chiva-Som. He had a lot of great stories from the 60’s and always had an intriguing comment on anything or anyone. I had a short and good relationships with Elizabeth Hurley and the Duchess of York, but I always felt fame should be left at the door in Chiva-Som – guests come there to recuperate – their professions were not really of interest - just how they wanted to feel..
Any difficult customers? I coined the phrase Code D for a difficult guest. If we have a Code D in house we need to give them extra special care as they are the people that need it the most.
My worst customer in the Bull’s Head was an ego-fuelled American man. At that time we had an event called ‘Toss the Boss’ - a customer you would order his or her drinks and then I would toss a coin to see if they paid for them or not. If the customer lost they paid regular prices, but if the customer won the drinks were free but they had to buy me one!
This American wanted to toss a round of drinks for the whole bar. I didn’t have a limit at the time so I took the bet even though we faced serving upwards of 70 drinks. The tension was palpable. The coin went up and to my great relief he lost! Not to be outdone he loudly went for it again. By this time I was sorely regretting not saying it could only be done once! Luck was not on his side that day, however, and he lost again. I never saw him after that, which must have suited both of us. Egos are painful in a pub!
How’s business in these Covid-19 days? With the realization that our resilience and immunity are of critical importance we have seen an upswing in business. As a clinic most of our protocols for cleanliness were already in place but we do allow longer times between bookings and we keep waiting clients further apart in the waiting areas. In the early days of COVID we didn’t offer certain treatments but since we have been COVID free all services are available.
When do you think these difficult times will end, how will your business fare? I expect we will be here for another year. Nov 2021 is when I see things being better. I am lucky that Wellness services and consulting have actually increased in demand – not so much in resort setting but definitely urban wellness centres and wellness communities. I’m also lucky to have an office in China where things are quite back to normal and wellness resort projects are still being pursued.
How do you keep in touch with the wellness/ health business? It’s a combination of trustworthy websites, industry events (Global Wellness institute), following peers and watching trends. Sam (business partner) loves high tech so keeps us up-to-date on any worthy new developments – she has a science health background so can sort out the trends from the real things. I lead a Nutrition for Healing Initiative for the Global Wellness Institute with experts from around the world – nutrition and lifestyle are my passion.
Any hobbies? I am currently learning animal communication and deeper levels of spirituality. COVID has given me more time to concentrate on these interests.
Favorite Bangkok restaurants, bars, hang-out places? Phillipe French Restaurant in Sukhumvit Soi 39 and No Idea in Sukhumvit Soi 22. Both have fabulous owners who really care how their guests are enjoying the experience and food.
What has been the high point in your life? I think the best thing I ever did for myself was selling my home in the UK to buy a beach house in Khao Tao. It has given great joy to me but more importantly also to my family and friends.
Low point? Losing the Bull’s Head, getting a divorce and having to close a healthy food franchise all around the same time. That was a low few years!
Favorite weekend destination? Khao Tao, Hua Hin Favorite beauty tip? Eat colourful natural wholefoods. Your beauty will shine through.
What’s next? My dream is to see people become happier – if I can play a part in that via the places we create and services i/we provide I will be happy.