Minor Spa operates the Anantara Spa, Mandara Spa and Aequalis brands as well as an individually tailored spa collection throughout Thailand, the Maldives, East Africa, the Middle East and China. Naim Maadad joined the company in 2008 from Six Senses Resorts & Spas, where he was the Managing Director Middle East. An Australian national, he has more than 20 years' experience working for leading restaurants, hotels and spas including Conrad Hilton, Hayman Island, Burj Al Arab and Sheraton across Australia, Japan and the Middle East.
HTR Magazine: How do you explain the strong pace of development of the spas in almost every hotel around the world?N. M.: iven a choice, I feel that the spa in a hotel or resort should always give priority for the resident guests. This would ensure that quality and focus remains in providing a value-addition to the business operations. Many a guest choose a hotel or resort because of the spa they have. When you open the doors of the spa to external clientele, the privacy and exclusiveness of the resident guests maybe compromised on hence a balanced approach should be taken in order to make sure the operation is a viable business proposition. The value in the value proposition is not about the product – it’s all about the “Experience”. It’s not just what customers think about the product (or you as a brand), it’s what they think about themselves when they associate with it.Naim Maadad: feel that the increased awareness of the consumers worldwide has changed the perception of spa operations on a global scale. Hotels and resorts have realized that it is vital to have a professional spa brand operator to handle the spa rather than trying to create a facility, which may not match the quality required. The lifestyles of people are changing. With the stress of modern day life, especially in these times of recession, people are looking for professional methods to rejuvenate their body and mind alike. This is where brands like Minor Spas play a key role with their totally professional approach of holistic wellbeing.HTR: Minor International is a key player in the hotel and spa industries. What are the advantages to have two leading brands, Mandara and Anantara?N. M.: Minor International, we have international renowned brands for resorts and spas, which many of the other powerful brands do not. As a service provider, we do offer a complete world class package to other brands to have our brand of spas at their location, which we professionally manage for them. We understand the complex synergy of both resort and spa operations and this does give a major boost to our efforts. The brands Anantara Resorts and Mandara Spas have emerged as Resort and Spa icons and are part of one of the fastest growing companies in the world. I am extremely pleased with the way, which the company has progressed, in the last year, despite the economic slowdown in the world economy.HTR: As a specialist, what is your philosophy concerning your spas?N. M.: The first rule of business is the same as the first rule of life: Adapt or die. The increased awareness on holistic healing and responsible lifestyle has made spas a vital aspect of all hotels and resorts around the world. I certainly do not think that spas should be present as a natural service offered to customers. Spas are fast becoming a major attraction and travellers often decide to stay in one hotel or resort depending on whether they have a spa or not, or even what brand and quality of spa they have.HTR: Why do you privilege an in-house management when some of your competitors prefer to leave the management of their spas to third parties professionals?N. M.: Offering uncompromised world-class spa with a complete lifestyle changing service with a focus on holistic wellbeing cannot be a case-by-case solution. It has to be a global brand strength and that is what we, at Minor Spas, are proud of. Yes, we do offer customized spa solutions depending on the location of the spa. We incorporate local heritage and spa traditions of the region, but no compromise on our global policy is made. The eclectic synergy is what stands us apart from other brands of the world.HTR: What are the core values of your proposition?N. M.: The word Anantara in Sanskrit means “without end” and evokes the freedom, movement and harmony that are the spirit of the Anantara Experience. The name Mandara comes from an ancient Sanskrit legend about the gods’ quest to find the elixir of immortality and eternal youth. Mandara Spa has embraced the legend with unique and exotic spa treatments that reflect the beauty, spirit and traditions of those ancient times and the soul and ritual of Asian culture. There is a total focus on the high-end quality that you want to deliver consistently to all clients. The strength of the brand is drawn from our core values. They are the driving force behind the highest levels of management down to the personalised services we provide to each hotel guest. Experience, Indigenous, Individuality, Passion: these core values help us differentiate our properties from the competition, ensuring that no matter where we operate, our brands continue to stand out from the crowd. Closely aligned with the experience-led demands of the luxury market, they ensure that we can compete on a level beyond pricing, rewarding all of our stakeholders, from guests, to employees and associates, to the communities in which we operate – and ultimately, our partners and owners.HTR: Concerning your relationships with your partners, who is responsible for the costs of construction and for the costs of development of your spas?N. M.: Asset owners are responsible for the project costs with the goal to create a distinctly harmonious blend of built space and natural environment. The owner of the spa infrastructure is responsible for the costs of construction and development of the spa infrastructure. The philosophy behind our design and construction efforts is to create an environment that will reinforce the positive guest experience, from dining to spa treatments, or even to time spent on our wireless Internet connection.HTR: Are the costs of management subject to a specific contract?N. M.: There are basic guidelines which are followed for the costs of management. Yes, it does get customized based on the nature and location of the specific contract. Our approach to every Anantara development is based on close cooperation with the owner to identify their own individual investment goals and make sure they are aligned with our brand and our management solutions from an early stage. During this key conceptual phase, discussion of the development’s concept and ownership structure sets the parameters for our future partnership. Our financial team will consult the owner on financing options and strategies to improve ROI, such as pursuing a mixed-use development by selling off branded residential units to individual investors to reduce the payback period of development. While each development solution is customised, all owners benefit from the following core strengths and capacities: • Pre-opening technical support, design, engineering and technical review to ensure long-term viability on both new projects and conversions. We work closely with the owner towards a common goal of ensuring that the product we develop is the best fit for each individual property. • Residential branding of mixed-use developments to obtain pricing premiums on individual unit sales. • A global sales and marketing network works proactively on the ground to reach target customers for the brand in strategic feeder markets, to monitor market conditions and competitive sets, drive rates and maintain high occupancy amongst FIT, group and MICE markets. • Experienced hotel management teams work at the property level to coordinate our corporate services and ensure their smooth execution on the ground. They ensure that the qualities of the brand are maintained by developing a wide variety of one-of-a-kind recreation and leisure options and other revenue-generating activities to enhance positioning, increase spend and maximise gross operating profit. • Centralised operational support guarantees a consistent guest experience, which adds to efficiency and streamlines operational costs. • A highly qualified revenue management team focuses on each property’s distribution, pricing and market segmentation, with the intent of maximising RevPAR for the property. • A dedicated public relations team keeps the brand – and each property – in the media spotlight through press activities, forging relationships with notable lifestyle brands and coordinating events such as the annual King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament in Thailand. • Our spa management subsidiary and training academy, MSpa International, implements customised luxury spa development solutions for each property, from pre-opening to operational support, staff training and ongoing sales and marketing.HTR: Which are, according to you, the key factors to increase the profitability of a spa?N. M.: Like any business entity, spas should certainly be a profit centre in order to sustain and justify its presence in the business chain. The key factors to increase the profitability of a SPA would be: 1. Find more clients – natural attrition of 12% per month 2. Get existing clients to spend more 3. Get the same clients to buy more often 4. Watch and act on numbers - Metrics is the language of business 5. Systematize & Automate Your Marketing Processes Receiving great Customer service is now a common expectation of all customers in any form of business, and the spa business is no different. The consistent delivery of such service is still elusive, even among many of the best brands. Great service is not simply smile training and free gift-wrapping. Rather, it is providing the customer with a subtle mix of product knowledge and personalized care. Only at this higher level can it be a differentiator. And thereby ensure success…. I wish to quote the genius of Peter Drucker to sum up my views: “People who don't take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year. People who do take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year”.HTR: What is your strategy of development ?N. M. : As a brand rooted in indigenous elements, destination is always the critical ingredient in any new development, forming the backbone of every Anantara experience. From it, everything else follows: architecture, design, activities and excursions, spa therapies and cuisine. Each new development is a product of thorough research and market surveys intended to help keep our eyes on the horizon, and identify emerging destinations that will enrich our portfolio, while also searching for new outposts in more familiar destinations which remain perennial favourites for our customers. To guide our development and to uphold the core values of the brand, we ensure that each destination fits with the brand profile.HTR: Are you in favour of opening your spas to the external clientele or only to the residents of the hotels ?N. M.: }}iven a choice, I feel that the spa in a hotel or resort should always give priority for the resident guests. This would ensure that quality and focus remains in providing a value-addition to the business operations. Many a guest choose a hotel or resort because of the spa they have. When you open the doors of the spa to external clientele, the privacy and exclusiveness of the resident guests maybe compromised on hence a balanced approach should be taken in order to make sure the operation is a viable business proposition. The value in the value proposition is not about the product – it’s all about the “Experience”. It’s not just what customers think about the product (or you as a brand), it’s what they think about themselves when they associate with it.
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