Rocco Forte Hotels

Christine Fessler, our Spa Manager at Hotel de Russie, explains her background in aromatherapy and answers some interesting questions.


Can you share a little about how you first got interested in aromatherapy?

“My first experience with aromatic herbs was as a child, watching and helping my grandmother who used her holistic knowledge to prepare aromatic oils and essences from mountain herbs.

I’ll always remember the aroma of calendula and alpine roses from the mountains around Salzburg, and so that’s how I became familiar with natural essences early on in my childhood.”


How did that translate to working in aromatherapy?

“Following a Masters in Wellness and Healthcare Management, I began my career at an Austrian hotel, which, at the time, had a brand-new wellness area with a lot of treatment rooms and thermal facilities. We introduced aromatherapy as a complete spa experience there and it was extremely successful. I then studied aromatherapy for three years, and later became an aromatherapy consultant.

I’ve always been attracted to different aromas and have known intuitively how to choose wellness products with my nose! I can always trust that feeling and know very soon if a product will be popular in our spa.”


How would you define aromatherapy? Do you consider it a form of alternative medicine, or simply a relaxing practise?

“Aromatherapy is a part of phytotherapy, also sometimes known as essential oil therapy. It’s a holistic healing treatment that uses high-quality, natural plant extracts medicinally to improve the health and wellbeing of mind, body and spirit, and features in alternative therapies, including Ayurveda.

However, it can just be used to relax, for example at home, where you can enjoy the benefits of real essential oils without treating something specific. Different essential oils can help to boost your immune system and often your mood.”


Can the same scent affect different people differently?

“Aromatherapy is very individual. The olfactory system is one of our oldest senses and we should always trust it – if you like a smell, it’s good for you. It’s always recommended to patch-test essential oils in a very small area to evaluate the reaction, and before using an oil in the De Russie Spa, we also run kinesiology tests (testing muscle strength by applying gentle pressure with and without the oil).”


How do you use aromatherapy and what does it help you with?

“Personally, I use aromatherapy nearly every day in my routine, and I’m really passionate about it because I can see and feel the results. I use essential oils for face care, body care, in a diffuser and also in cooking.

We use it daily at the De Russie Spa, too, and there’s nothing better than when a client thanks you and leaves regenerated after an aroma massage ritual.”


Is there anyone who should avoid aromatherapy, or can anyone try it?

“I’d always recommend speaking to a doctor, especially if you’re pregnant or have other conditions. If it’s part of a wider holistic therapy plan, it’s still best to consult a traditional medical expert alongside a professional naturopath or doctor of alternative medicine, although it’s generally considered a safe and reliable form of natural medicine.”


To find out more about our aromatherapy offerings, browse our spa menu at Hotel de Russie, or to enquire about a bespoke experience, please contact Christine at