How important it is to have a centralised strategic approach and operations control over the wellness of your various hotel brands?
It is critically important and our Group is intently focused on the health, happiness and overall well-being of our guests. As a result, Accor has invested deeply to assemble a centralised team of luxury hospitality professionals, representing the highest competence and expertise within the global hotel industry, equipped to strategize and lead the development of innovative wellness practices across our group of luxury and premium brands.
With a large number of luxury brands within our portfolio, we have the opportunity to create experiences unique to each brand, and which are also profitable and globally scalable. We can strategically invest in people, products, partners and programs in a way that shares and leverages more resources and capitalizes on the best practices of each of our brands.
Our central well-being team guides and directs global wellness strategies through transformative guest experiences, integrated with our five pillars of wellness: nutrition, holistic design, movement, spa, and mindfulness. The team provides 360 degree support, structure and transversal responsibilities to combine business efficiency, service and impeccable quality This offers value for internal and external stakeholders, with the goal of creating more comfortable, happy and healthy guests who ultimately feel better for having stayed with our brands and hotels.
This approach ensures brand integrity by having the various brand teams tapping into the same pool of specialists, who have a wider view of the brand spectrum and can help them identify relevant insights and define distinct strategies.
The truest measure of success is the well-being of our visiting guests over a long-term and consistent basis.
Each of the Accor hotel brands is different, with a different wellness offering. How do you scale expectations?
Our mandate is to support and elevate the wellness experience at each brand, focusing on the health, happiness and vitality of our guests – this our primary well-being goal. Our approach is to clearly define where we can have the maximum benefit and impact on our guests’ well-being and focus on these key wellness elements.
Broadly, we have defined five areas – nutrition, holistic design, movement, spa, and mindfulness – that we view as essential to the overall wellness experience. We then customise the delivery and tactics in these areas to suit each brand and its unique guest preferences, demographics, psychographics, brand positioning, culture and locations.
If you were to put this in the context of music, all our brands work with the same notes, but the way in which the notes are arranged and orchestrated, and the volume or intensity at which they are played creates a unique song for each brand. This is similar to how we design the wellness programming for each of our brands.
As the luxury hospitality industry has been evolving, could we talk about wellbeing as a must have offering?
Within the luxury market, wellness is now an expectation. It’s a dominant consumer value that is essential to the stay experience.
And research validates this. When asked about their goals and aspirations for the coming year “exercise”, “eat healthy” and “take care of myself” are prioritized as the #1, #2 and #3 considerations by luxury travellers and high-net-worth individuals, followed by “travel for vacation” and “take active steps to reduce my stress”. That is a 100% focused on wellness. As these travellers arrive at their luxury hotels, an experience of overall and holistic well-being is certainly on their minds.
There are very strong push and pull factors that are accelerating the guest demand for health and well-being experiences. Push factors are the relentless pressures on our health, such as less physically active work, the prevalence of processed food, air quality concerns, light and noise pollution – all of which create malaise, illness and stress.
Then we have the pull factors. Wellness is a highly appealing touch point among consumers now, a desirable draw that promises unique, enriching, relaxing experiences that help us define and express ourselves. Wellness helps us move away from the push factors and embrace the highly attractive lifestyle that is so integral to luxury hospitality.
The challenge for hoteliers is that wellness will always be a very personal and individualized concept. As a leader in this space, we look for more ways to authentically personalize and enrich every guest experience and we leverage our resources in innovation and technology to help us do so.
To what extent has wellbeing been evolving towards relaxation or visible results?
Within the hotel space, wellness has moved beyond the walls of the spa and fitness areas. Our focus is on the integration of wellbeing efforts across the entire property and throughout the guest journey. From intelligently designed guestrooms, to the creation of quiet outdoor spaces for contemplation and communing with nature, to nourishing food and beverage, to mentally and emotionally stimulating cultural programming, these must all contribute to an experience of well-being for the modern luxury traveller.
At the same time, the core focus of spas and fitness offerings have shifted from beauty and sport to more transformative experiences of wellbeing. For example, where we once offered yoga classes in the fitness area, we might now augment that with a full moon yoga event on the beach, led by an internationally-renowned yoga guru.
What is your view on mono-branded Spas?
We approach our spa programming with great flexibility and respect for the unique needs of each hotel and marketplace. For example, Willow Stream Spa is Fairmont’s signature spa brand, and yet at certain locations where customer demand makes sense, we will introduce a unique, locally designed spa, such as the Well & Being Spa at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess in Arizona, or The Spa at Fairmont Grand Del Mar in San Diego, which has earned a coveted Forbes Five-Star rating.
Some argue that the organic beauty products do not produce the same effects as cosmetology. Tell us more.
The organic brands we work with absolutely produce tangible results and the benefits of use are clear and visible. There is absolutely a place for both organic and advanced cosmeceuticals within the spa environment and strong demand for both. In fact, as we develop our spa programming, we will often partner organic and natural brands with leading cosmeceutical brands as we feel they can often work together harmoniously and there are many complementary benefits to doing so.
We expect to see continued growth in demand for clean cosmetics, organic ingredients, and increasingly products that help defend against environmental pollution. Ingredients, sourcing and sound science are all vitally important to our guests and to our spa professionals.
Corporate executives who travel extensively are increasingly including the wellness facilities in their criteria for the choice of a hotel. How do your hotel brands respond?
Business travel is so prevalent today that busy executives simply cannot choose to put their health routines on hold while they travel. More than a third of people say they are willing to increase their travel budgets to include health conscious features.
Across all of our luxury and premium brands, we have introduced ways for our guests to keep up with their fitness routines and their preferred style of eating throughout their stay. For example, the Fairmont Fit offering provides complimentary running shoes and workout gear for visiting loyalty members, negating the need for them to sacrifice luggage space for their fitness gear. Pullman hotels offers healthy breakfast menus and in-room fitness videos for guests to use first thing in the morning or before they retire for the evening. Swissôtel offers their signature Vitality menus as well as their innovative Vitality Room concept, while Sofitel offers De-Light menus, both providing their own unique styles of light, healthy and energising food and beverages.
Besides high-standard facilities and products, wellbeing is also about customer service and skilled professionals. How is the HR market evolving? Recruiting and nurturing talent has become crucial.
The memories that last and the experiences that touch the hearts of our guests are most often created through one-on-one interactions with our staff. This is especially true within our spas and fitness facilities, where the care, attention and delivery is always very individualised and personal.
Recruiting and nurturing the careers of our talented workforce is essential, particularly among an employment market that has become increasingly competitive for qualified therapists and wellness leaders. In order to compete and create the most desirable environment for attracting professionals, we ensure competitive compensation and benefits, while recognising the unique skills that spa professionals bring to our hotels.
We also endeavour to lead the industry with higher degrees of flexibility in our working parameters, allowing for more part time and hourly employees. Many exceptional therapists leave the industry to start families and we strive to be more flexible in our approach to providing them with opportunities to return.
Accor is predominantly an operator when it comes to its luxury hotel brands. To what extent do owners influence the development of spas?
The owner and operator must always work in tandem towards a shared vision, as we share the same desire and goals when it comes to maximising returns and exceeding guest expectations. Therefore, the process of spa design and development is always a collaboration with our owners and a key element of our delivery and support.
We provide expertise in the highly specialised area of spa and wellbeing design and this is grounded in our knowledge and expertise of our markets, consumers and locations. We approach our spa programming with great flexibility and respect for the unique needs of each hotel and marketplace.
Five Well-Being Pillars ACCOR
Supporting our F&B teams in our adapting a healthier approach to both food and beverage offerings and preparation.
Improving the quality of sleep and general conditions of the guest room by using modern technology and design to enhance well-being.
Bodies in Movement
Our approach to fitness, exercise, gym and recreation from our dynamic exercise and fitness programs, such as with our Pullman properties, to offer holistic wellbeing activities & outdoor recreation.
A key component of our well-being strategy is within our spa and treatment experiences as we can directly affect a guest’s physical and emotional state. We have created defined spa experiences unique to each brand.
Tackles emotional well-being through either structured activities or creating spaces where guests can take a moment to pause.
More from LEADERS
Building a world class luxury hotel brand – with Yaron Liberman, The Norman Tel Aviv (Exclusive Interview)
What motivated your career choice towards hospitality? My career has always felt like a clear path, directly headed towards the hospitality …
Hôtel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel welcomes new General Manager, Vincent Billiard (Exclusive Interview)
1. How would you define the positioning of Hôtel de Crillon, a Rosewood Hotel? Hôtel de Crillon, a Rosewood Hotel …
Hilton Budapest, still a power player in Budapest’s highly competitive luxury hotel market (Exclusive Interview)
How has the hotel performed this year and what are your expectations for 2020? (general terms, not financial specifics) After the …