Ship To Shore – Kayleigh Westgarth

Written by Melanie Winters

Written by Melanie Winters

Kayleigh Westgarth was born in Bristol in the UK and is a massage and beauty therapist. She’s gone from shore to ship and back again, and now runs Coral Spa Consultants, which is part of the Gym Marine Group.

Before establishing Coral Spa Consultants, Kayleigh worked in yachting for 12 years, beginning as a stew/masseuse and eventually moving into spa manager roles on large charter yachts. Over the years she has worked on various new build projects and been responsible for setting up the spas onboard. 

“My career at sea actually began on cruise ships straight out of college,” begins Kayleigh. “But after returning home and working in spas for a while, I realised that I missed the excitement of travel and meeting new people.” When Kayleigh was contacted about a position on a yacht, she jumped at the chance even though she had no idea what she was signing up for! The move into yachting was accidental really, and Kayleigh says she will always be grateful to those that gave her that initial opportunity. 

Kayleigh’s had many great experiences over the years, travelling to some wonderful places and working on some beautiful yachts. Yachting has even opened doors for her to be able to work for some very high profile athletes which, as a sports masseuse, she says was very exciting! One of her professional highlights was setting up the spa for the largest charter yacht in the world, describing it as an incredible experience and a beautiful spa that she eventually got to work in. 

But it’s not all travel and excitement, there are low points in yachting too, normally it’s those days when you are mid-trip, tired and missing your loved ones. “Those are the moments you are grateful for the strong team surrounding you. Your crew really does make all the difference.”

Kayleigh started to put down roots at home during her time off, and realised that she no longer wanted to spend half the year sleeping in a bunk bed. As much as she loved being onboard, she was craving a routine at home with friends and family. She noticed that more and more people were reaching out to her asking for spa advice for new builds and it was something that she enjoyed helping with, so Kayleigh started to develop a business concept that would allow her to best use her skills and operational knowledge to help make future therapists’ lives easier onboard.

Kayleigh says that the hardest thing about moving ashore at first was getting used to not being surrounded by a whole crew of people every day. “It’s easy to take the constant company for granted, and sometimes desperately all you want is five minutes to yourself, but when faced with actually living alone, when my partner was away on his boat, I got lonely at times!” Kayleigh says this made her incredibly grateful for the small group of close friends and family that she had at home. “I really had to really push myself out of my comfort zone and put myself out there to connect with new people that had similar hobbies. Meeting people when you are an adult and don’t have a boat full of ready-made friends to pick from can be scary!”

One of the best things about being off the boat for Kayleigh has been learning new skills and realising that there is a market for the business ideas she’d spent her breaks wondering about. “I just love that now I have the freedom to plan things in advance and yet still be in a job that I feels passionately about.” Blushing slightly, Kayleigh says that she was also embarrassingly excited when she was finally home long enough to grow sunflowers and tomatoes on her balcony!

Now running Coral Spa Consultants, part of the Gym Marine Group, Kayeligh specialises in the setup of onboard spas during the build phase. Her background as a spa therapist and experience working on multiple new builds over the years, means Kayleigh is able to offer insight from an operational point of view, allowing the wellness areas to be utilised to their full potential.

It all came about when she reached out to Edward from Gym Marine late in 2022. She had been on numerous boats where they had fitted out the gyms for guests and crew, and she was always impressed by the attention to detail. “I saw them as the gym version of what I wanted to be for spas,” comments Kayleigh, who also appreciated that Edward was also from a yachting background and understood the importance of the crew having a great working space. Luckily, he had also seen the gap in the market for yacht spas, and with onboard wellness growing in popularity these areas continue to take up more space on board. Kayleigh and Ed had a chat, and it was a very easy decision to work together. “It is honestly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! Not only does it allow me to help and work with far more projects than I could have imagined, but I also gets to work with a truly incredible team that are really supportive.”

Coral Spa Consultants strives to bridge the gap between the interior design team’s vision and the end usage experience of the spa. They can provide valuable insight into the flow of a treatment room, advising the design teams where they might need to place plumbing for wash basins or pedicure baths, the storage required for all the equipment, appropriate linens and products, as well as locations for plug sockets. The fact that she gets to work with such an established company, sharing Gym Marine’s resources in CAD planning, logistics and international structure, and then adding in her spa background and knowledge, means that Coral Spa Consultants not only creates a better working environment for the crew and a far superior treatment experience for the owner, but they are often able to save them a lot of money in the long run, by creating a wonderful spa right from inception.

Kayleigh says there are definitely things that she misses about life on the water, and coming back to UK winters was a shock to the system. Getting used to commuting instead of just rolling out of bed and into the crew mess also took some time, but other that that she really does feel like she’s managed to find the best of both worlds.

When asked what advice she would give to other yachties thinking of making the transition to shore, she recommends they start thinking about they would want to do prior to actually leaving. “Use your breaks to brainstorm ideas, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself! It takes time!” In fact, it took Kayleigh almost a year to get on to the starting blocks of where she wanted to be, with a lot of failed attempts in between. But she says the important thing to remember is to make the most of the time you have at home and enjoy that work/life balance that everyone has worked so hard to achieve.

Kayleigh Westgarth

Founder – Coral Spa Consultants


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