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Carolina Payan: A Beautiful Second Act

Updated: Apr 6, 2023

Carolina Payan was born to be an entrepreneur, opening the stage for her first act in life. Payan, the owner and operator of The Lab Skin Bar, embarked on her enterprising path freshly after receiving her newly minted kindergarten degree. This well-seasoned, not yet spoiled six-year-old, had a pre cell phone era premonition; to sell cool stickers to her classmates. But that's not all, the teenage trailblazer went on to sell cheesecakes for a period before graduating on to producing and selling handbags to her peers. "I started working on my own in primary school. It made me happy and it felt like a natural thing for me to do. I've always had this drive and ambition, especially when it makes people happy." Payan fondly recalls.

This girl was ready to roll and thankfully has never stopped. Never one to lose momentum, Payan made a big splash in the high end spas as a skilled and sought after Swedish massage therapist. She continued her education by adding other styles including sports massage and clinical massage. It would not be long before she added facials, skin care marketing, manicures, pedicures and eventually eyebrow design to her arsenal. Payan says, "I think it's not uncommon for an ambitious person to master most things under the spa umbrella. I think that's the great thing about these jobs in the hospitality/spa business. Unfortunately they don't pay for us to continue on with our education and training, even though it's a benefit to them. I looked at it like it was an internship."

After completing her education Payan continued with her notorious vigor embarking on an illustrious 14 year career in hotels, resorts, and spas. Not surprisingly she reached the highest rung of the ladder and found herself perched in an administrative position that lined her pockets, but alas, did not stir her loins.

Never one to lose her momentum, Payan procured a plethora of connections within the upper echelons in the hospitality industry and built a stellar reputation based on resiliency and reliability. "I was a spa manager for 14 years and I was highly motivated to take on a lot of responsibility. That allowed me to be in charge of the openings at Red Tails, Park, Hyatt, Barcelona, the Paradises, and the Ritz Carlton." Ironically it was during this particular point of her life that the Pandemic provided Payan a hidden opportunity to tap the reset button.

It took time to discern what made the most sense for Payan professionally and personally after Covid 19 rendered a devastating blow to the hospitality industry and world at large. Not surprisingly this perspicacious woman properly sorted things out. Payan explains "The Lab Skin Bar came up as an idea for me to start a new career after the pandemic. I realized that I was ready to go out on my own, but the most important thing for me was to spend more time with my family."

When Payan made the leap to leave the corporate perch by branching off on her own it was a well-timed decision. Achieving tenure in her chosen field provided the ideal stepping stone to launch her own business. "I think for many people--most people that really master it that I've talked to, they start on the ground floor and work their way up to the top. They learn all aspects of the business. This is the only logical move. Sure, it's a risk and less secure, but it can provide a better reward." Payan explains.

Her initial idea was to start her own beauty product line, but the vicissitudes of such an endeavor gave her pause. One thing was clear in her mind; it was time to switch gears and dedicate more time to what she prizes most in life-- family. Payan was reluctant to return to ten hour shifts, six days a week, she longed to spend more time with her family and create more balance in her day to day life. "I got tired of spending so much of my time in hotels working, working, working, and putting my family on the side. That was a lot of sacrifice." Payan lamented.

Her years of sacrifice did not go in vain. Carolina Payan has no weakness and/or holes in her repertoire. Admittedly she does not do hair herself, but not to worry she has a hairdresser of her ilk on call to cut, shape, and/or relax your coiffe by appointment. When it comes to the art form of designing eyebrows, Payan is an artist and a perfectionist. The reason why is that men, now, more than ever have become eye guys.

If nothing else, the Pandemic shed proper light on all facial portions north of the upper bridge of one’s nose. A well-defined eyebrow with the perfect arch? "It became a big thing, especially after the pandemic. Wearing a mask shifted the focus solely to the eyes. Since we could only look at the eyes, lashes, your eyebrows. That's when I was focusing on getting training to design how I like it. Before I didn't do it professionally. Everybody wanted to look pretty in the eyes because that's the only fight you're showing. Even in Dubai, they are huge. There's a huge industry on the eyebrows because that's what they only show with the traditional head garments worn by most women in the Middle east."

(Editor's note: Plenty of men regularly frequent The Lab Skin Bar primarily for massages and/or when they have to be on a boat wearing sandals. However none would agree to go on the record for this story)

Carolina Payan is multifaceted, extraordinarily capable in all things spa related and obviously entrepreneurial as previously stated. This paragraph is devoted to any guy like me like myself if for nothing else, the Pandemic shed proper light on facial properties north of the upper bridge of one's nose. This allowed all things in the eye category to shine and may have led to a decrease in certain elective procedure south of the nostrils.

To be sure, The Lab Skin Bar checks every essential box when it comes to a wellness spa experience. The relaxed and positive atmosphere is pleasing to the senses - the spa ambience is instantly inviting, peaceful, cleanly and comfortable. What sets this spa apart from others is how affordable the prices are given the high quality of the full range of services provided including her in-villa services.

On the horizon will be additional services --body sculpting, the technology of the most advanced facials, and much more. One thing is for sure-- this entrepreneur is not one to rest on her laurels. That would be out of place for a woman who has conveniently found her niche in all facets of her career. Having recently arrived in her 40's, Carolina Payan is moving through a fascinating stage of her life with a wide range of remaining aspirations, a deep well of determination—and with much of her best work surely yet to come.


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