There is no question that Michael Tompkins is a major corporate success story in the world of spa and wellness. Former CEO and President of Miraval Resort and Spa, Vice President of Hotel and Spa at Turning Stone Resort and Casino, Health and Healing Director at Canyon Ranch in the Berkshires…But what many may not know—and what is ultimately the key to his success—is that Tompkins started his career as a Registered Nurse—and he has never lost touch with that.
Tompkins is a true believer with an authentic connection to healing. In June, he surprised everyone when he announced his retirement from Miraval. But here’s something that is essentially not a surprise: He is taking the reins at Hilton Head Health in South Carolina. One of the top, if not the top, weight loss resorts in the country, the award-winning property has a serious reputation when it comes to teaching guests how to live better and healthier lives—something it has been doing since 1976.
Tompkins is a true believer with an authentic connection to healing.
Now, Hilton Head Health is positioning itself to become a leading wellness destination. At a time when many of the States’ top hotel and spa properties are shifting their focus to include more health and wellness options, Hilton Head Health has always been focused on health and wellness—but minus a premiere spa. A massive expansion is planned, including a newly built spa, a 30-room inn, and a newly renovated restaurant and new outdoor dining area.
After being contacted by the owner to come out and take a look at the property, he checked himself into the resort’s week-long program. Tompkins, who readily admits that he has always had a struggle with weight, was amazed by the program’s effectiveness. “I came to seriously look at Hilton Head Health in July. I went through the program and found that from the fitness and nutrition perspective, it was the best I had ever experienced as it related to weight loss.” Tompkins ended up losing nine pounds at the end of that week—and signing on as CEO and General Manager.
What attracted Tompkins to Hilton Head Health was the combination of experiencing the topnotch program and the fact that the property was expanding to build a boutique spa.
“I had the opportunity at Miraval to create in ways that helped the culture of the organization become innovative,” shares Tompkins. “I learned from people like Philippe Bourguignon and Steve Case, who really supported that cutting-edge sort of mentality of leading the pack in an authentic way. Hilton Head Health is a brand I can lead because I really believe in it. It honestly provides me with an opportunity to build a wellness revolution.”
“Hilton Head Health is a brand I can lead because I really believe in it. It honestly provides me with an opportunity to build a wellness revolution.”
Now “waist deep in it,” Tompkins (who is once again working with pioneering spa expert Jane Segerberg, and who joins CFO Ben Campsey, formerly of the Umstead Hotel & Spa, and CMO Carol Stratford, formerly of Miraval), has created the concept and rebranding, added new programming, and is reworking the interior design plans for the spa and salon. These include a newly built Indigo Spa & Pilates Center, a 30-room Inn, and a newly renovated restaurant and outdoor dining area. (The spa derives its name, “Indigo,” from the indigenous plants of the genus Indigofera that grow in the area.)
Tompkins says there’s no need to mess with the resort’s concept of wellness, since the core of the programming is outstanding. What he is doing is enhancing it to include more than programs for the extremely overweight—and to really celebrate the natural surroundings of the oceanfront area.“New program tracks include jumpstarts for those who may want to lose ten to thirty pounds, and who may also want to explore the area.” The new programming will feature three separate tracks:
Lose Well: An intense weight-loss program that lasts 4 weeks and is really about people who are seeking guidance and to be held accountable to lose weight (40 pounds or more).
Live Well: A week-long program with new changes that will shift to more of a healthy lifestyle and wellness-focused experience.
PlayWell: A new brand initiative launching this fall. Still targeting the health and wellness-conscious, this package will focus on all the fun recreational outdoor things you can do on Hilton Head, with a major focus on the destination. (Parasaiing, paddle boarding, kayaking, walking tours of Historic Savannah, etc)
In a very Tompkins-like way, he has also started working with the community. For example, there are plans for a 5K this October, and a philanthropic calendar called “Look Well from Hilton Head.” The calendar will feature the resort’s “beautifully fit and good-looking” employees, explains Tompkins, who adds that proceeds will go to fund people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford the resort. Tompkins was inspired to create the calendar after sitting down for 15 to 30 minutes with each of the resort’s 60 staff members.
Tompkins says he particularly admires living in an area with pristine beaches and where the entire community is health-conscious. While the island is only 12 miles, there are 90 miles of paved bike paths and walking paths, kayaking, rowing, stand-up paddle boarding, and many more outdoor activities that are enjoyed by a majority.
“Somewhere in the late Seventies, early Eighties, people got off track and the obesity trend began. Electronics enabled people to become more and more unhealthy. The unfortunate thing is that convenience replaced wellbeing. I think that now people are making the shift in the other direction—toward health and wellness—but now they’re saying, “Oh and by the way, I want convenience with it.”
For more information, go to hiltonheadhealth.com.