Spa & Wellness Group Director at Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group
The travel industry (and the world, for that matter) has never seen a situation like the current pandemic. For this reason, I think it is important to recognize that there are no “experts” on this subject. Just a bunch of industry colleagues trying to figure out the best way to navigate a very difficult and very unpredictable situation. In my role as Spa and Wellness Group Director for Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, I see a few opportunities to leverage our wellness positioning as a means of helping recovery:
1. Interest in health and wellness is at an all time high. Wellness was already a mega-trend before the coronavirus hit. Now it’s through the roof. People are more sensitive to well-being than ever because
- a. The virus has most deeply affected those whose health was already compromised.
- b. The pandemic reminds us of our mortality and forces us to focus more on extracting more longevity and quality from the years we have.
- vs. People in quarantine have had time (and endless online resources) to focus on their own well-being, potentially incorporating new practices into their lifestyles.
Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group has always had Spa and Wellness as the central pillar of our brand. The strength and authenticity behind our commitment to the health and well-being of our guests will be a key aspect of our recovery and an important area of the hotel experience to harness in bringing guests back to our hotels. We are working on programs to help our clients stay strong physically and mentally during these difficult times.
2. People need to reach whom they can trust. Social distancing may be something that stays with us long after the coronavirus has been eradicated. People can be reluctant to get too close to others if they feel unsafe. But touch is an essential ingredient for human health and fulfillment. So while it may take a while before they resume shaking everyone’s hands in a meeting room or kissing everyone’s cheeks at a cocktail party, people may return to the rooms. spas if we can provide a sacred space where people can experience the touch in a safe. environment administered by a qualified professional who is held to the highest standards of cleanliness and hygiene. Our spas have always had the strictest safety and cleanliness standards in the industry and we are committed to providing a safe haven where our customers can experience a nourishing touch that is delivered safely and professionally. . As an industry, we must meet these high standards to help consumers feel safe in our facilities and advocate for governments to allow and even encourage the safe therapies we offer.
3. Think local. I think another advantage we have on the road to recovery is the close connection with the local community that is driven through our spas. Most of our spas receive more than half of their clients from their local communities. These customers are likely to return more quickly than overnight hotel guests. International borders may also need time to trust foreign visitors, so we anticipate more domestic travel and “stays”. If international travel is limited, we will encourage people to visit major destinations within their own borders and provide them with rich experiences that they might have missed in their own backyards.
Now is also the time for collaboration. Almost all destinations and industries are affected by the impact of the pandemic on the economy, so companies are open to join forces if it is possible to bring back business. We can accomplish a lot by working together to promote the benefits of travel, the amazing experiences at our destinations, and the local health and wellness offerings that can help improve people’s lives.