Insider's Guide to Spas
Sue Harmsworth


World Traveler, Spa Expert & ESPA Founder

Mary Bemis

One of the world’s leading spa experts, British-born Sue Harmsworth is the mastermind behind ESPA, the global spa and beauty brand she launched in 1993. Today, her spa portfolio spans 55 countries. She has devoted her life to spa and wellness and has a passion for not only creating beautiful spas and health retreats, but for concocting a lovely line of natural products. We caught up with her in between flights, and asked her to share some travel wisdom.

Carry-on Musts: Bose noise eliminator, Tempur-Pedic eye mask, cashmere blanket and socks, swimsuit, and the following carefully chosen products.

Preferred Products: All from ESPA: Floral Spa Fresh Spritzer (it keeps me hydrated), Cellular Hydrating Serum, face oils, and Skin Saviour.

Miracle Product: I always carry our Tea Tree Gel to avoid catching things, and sometimes I put it on the inside of my nose if there are a lot of bugs around. It’s also great for burns, rashes, and more.

The night before flying: I bathe in Epsom salts, and I also carry magnesium spray for cramps and aches and pains.

Limit Technology: In flight, I like to read rather than too much technology, as it calms my mind. I try to catch up on emails during the day, whatever the time zone, as doing them at night stimulates the mind too much.

Avoid Bloat: To help with bloating and digestive issues, which I don’t really suffer from, I do try and stick to an alkaline diet and sometimes take alkaline salts if I have been eating out a lot or eating a lot of airplane food. I often take food or juices with me, depending on the airline. Singapore, Etihad, and Qatar are really good, but short-haul tends to be awful.

Day of Arrival: I steam, swim and get a massage on arrival from a long-haul flight. I love to be outdoors, if the climate is good, and I will try and get fresh air, if possible.

Sleeping tips: I do try and avoid alcohol in flight, but sometimes I have a glass of red wine to help me sleep. I don’t do drugs of any kind! I do use our Restorative Body Oil to help me sleep. On arrival, I like to take baths at night and tend to find a good soak with oils and magnesium salts helps me to psychologically rebalance and sleep. I practice my breathing if I have trouble sleeping, and I will sleep when I can when changing time zones, even if it is for a couple of hours.

Mary Bemis

Mary Bemis

Mary Bemis is editorial director of She is an award-winning spa journalist, honored with Folio's Top Women in Media Award, and the distinguished ISPA Dedicated Contributor Award. In 1997, she launched American Spa magazine, and in 2007, Mary co-founded Organic Spa magazine. A pioneer in the sustainable spa and beauty worlds, Mary is co-curator of Cosmoprof North America's Discover Green Pavilion. She sits on the board of Wellness Warrior, is a Global Wellness Day Advisor and a co-founder of the Washington Spa Alliance.