Expert advice from someone who’s dedicated a career to health and wellness – Helena Keenan

June 1, 2016

Health and wellbeing are two words that have received a lot of attention recently, but they are definitely no new concept – Polynesian Spa Retreat manager Helena Keenan has spent the last four decades honing her skills throughout the world.

Health and wellbeing are two words that have received a lot of attention recently, but they are definitely no new concept – Polynesian Spa Retreat manager Helena Keenan has spent the last four decades honing her skills throughout the world. Now settled in Rotorua, Helena brings a diverse and extensive skill-set to Polynesian Spa.

As Retreat Manager, Helena has seen perceptions towards health and wellness practices change dramatically over her 35 years in the industry.

“These days, people understand stress and the importance of looking after yourself. I notice people are much more health conscious and accepting of therapeutic techniques which is great.”

With aromatherapy a particular passion, Helena studied her craft in London under the guidance of Madame Micheline Arcier, who is widely regarded as a pioneer of modern aromatherapy, having worked with some of the most renowned practitioners in the world.

Helena returned to New Zealand to work for herself as an Aromatherapist in Christchurch. She then went on to spend 15 years in Australia spending her five years as a lecturer, then Head of Faculty at the Australian College of Natural Medicine before working for some of the top resorts in a Management capacity.

Helena also spent time doing a meditation training course with Dr Ian Gawler, who famously cured himself of cancer through meditation.

“This has given me a solid knowledge of mindfulness and meditation to ensure I can live a healthy life.”

Acceptance of aromatherapy has also changed over the last few decades.

“Back in the eighties, a common perception people was that aromatherapy wasn’t to be taken seriously. No-one would employ an Aromatherapist back then (in Christchurch)– however, with the growing population more health conscious, Aromatherapy is now well recognised for its health benefits.”

Aromatherapy is now offered in packages at the Polynesian Spa – with Helena being instrumental in implementing this, after joining the team in 2010.

“Upon returning to New Zealand after 15 years in Australia, the role of Retreat Manager came available at Polynesian Spa and was a great opportunity for me. I never envisioned myself working in Rotorua but I’m glad I took the step, as I really love it here.”

As Retreat Manager, Helena notices many clients struggle to switch off from their busy lives as they come in for therapy.  However, clients that come in for regular therapies seem to switch off much quicker. The secret, she says, is making time before and after the therapy to truly relax.

“Before you come in for a therapy, I’d suggest giving yourself an hour or two to wind down so you can fully enjoy the treatment. If possible, don’t go straight back into something busy or stressful after the therapy.”

The many benefits of spa therapies are similar to those of physical exercise.  Helena suggests monthly treatments to maximise the benefits on one’s health and wellness.

“A monthly spa therapy is ideal for people to get through life on top of their game. Constant spa therapy allows you to reach a state of complete relaxation, and reduces your levels of stress. It’s ideal, especially when life is so hectic.”