With a portfolio of more than 150 hotels and resorts in 23 countries, Minor Hotels is attracting attention for its six diverse brands, each of which possess its own distinct personality. When it comes to wellness, the company is perhaps best known for its Anantara brand, a collection of luxury hotels, resorts, and spas that connect travelers through personal experiences. Named after the ancient Sanskrit word meaning without end, Anantara Spas are rooted in the timeless healing traditions found around the world. The first Anantara Spa debuted in 2001 with the launch of Anantara Resort and Spa in the seaside town of Hua Hin, Thailand. Since then, the brand has gone global with the introduction of Anantara Spa Maldives in 2006 and beyond to enticing destinations in Africa, China, Europe, and the Middle East. MSpa International, a leading spa management company based in Thailand, is tasked with operating all Minor Hotel spa locations worldwide—Anantara Spa, Avani Spa, and Tivoli Spa—as well as Aequalis Spa and Mandara Spa. Here, Vanessa Stoessel, director of wellness and spa projects for MSpa International, shares how the company helps Anantara Spas shine.
Q. What is your company’s mission statement?
A. Anantara is a luxury hospitality brand for modern travelers, connecting them to genuine places, people, and stories through personal experiences and providing heartfelt hospitality in the world’s most exciting destinations. This sentiment filters through to all components of the Anantara brand, including the spa experience. Anantara Spa offers guests the opportunity to spa in beautifully designed, luxurious environments that feature a full range of amenities and facilities. Our deluxe-style spa suites are designed with steam showers, relaxation seating, luxury treatment beds, and as much as possible make the most of the natural surroundings through private garden enclaves or mesmerizing views. Spa journeys begin with a floral foot washing ritual that invites guests to be transported to a relaxed state. Our spa menus are curated to suit their specific destination and the types of guests arriving, from traditional therapies and high-tech face and body experiences to spa packages that cater to the needs of leisure and business travelers and families with kids. At the heart of it all, we place significant focus on training our teams to deliver a warm and welcoming experience for our guests, where all their wishes are exceeded.
Q. What sort of education and training do you offer brand-wide to your spa team?
Training for our spa managers, directors, and team members includes the following topics: spa therapy, product knowledge, retail selling, wellness, operational procedures, brand standards, auditory systems, financial acumen, and leadership. Each of our spa teams receive six weeks of pre-opening training, a one week annual refresher therapy training, one week of operational and marketing training, wellness training upon demand, and access to online learning modules that cover personal development and leadership topics. On top of the MSpa training, we also bring in expert trainers from external product companies to provide training on their treatment protocols, product knowledge, visual merchandising, retail display, and selling skills. In addition, property human resource (HR) teams will ensure that all spa team members are included in general HR training that covers communication skills, performance management, conflict resolution, and supervisory and leadership development.
Our spa managers and directors report to group directors of operations who oversee and support their performance. This ensures they are mentored and aided to grow in their operational capabilities and understanding but also in their leadership approach and emotional intelligence. This is achieved through regular interaction with group directors, monthly operational calls to review business performance and platforms upon which all MSpa spa managers and directors can interact and share learning and best business practices. We believe in developing our team members in order to create a strong and loyal team that will grow with our organization.
Q. In what ways, if any, do the spas strive to be eco-friendly?
A. We consider an eco-friendly approach to be encompassed within a commitment to the greater philosophy of sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR). With a strong focus on reflecting local culture in our spas, we strive to incorporate traditional experiences in the spa offering that feature locally sourced products utilizing ingredients predominantly found in that region. For example, at Anantara Spa at Anantara Al Jabal Al Akdhar (Oman), we offer a 90-minute Revitalising Pomegranate Journey, which relies on local pomegranates, long revered for their ability to regenerate, nourish, and protect the skin. Additionally, our spas serve teas that are created from ingredients grown in the resort herb gardens as part of the pre- and post-treatment experience. We hire team members from the local community to ensure we share our international knowledge and develop the talent within the country. Our spa team members are encouraged to attend CSR activities that support community development and environmental preservation, such as beach cleanups, turtle releases, temple cleaning, coral rejuvenation, painting schools, planting mangroves, and more.
Q. What do you do to keep your spas at the forefront of industry trends and development?
A. MSpa has group directors of spa who oversee the spa operations of specific regions, such as Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and more. Given the differences among regions, this ensures we are able to utilize local team knowledge and best adapt our spa offerings to match the needs and trends of the specific market.
With the evolution of the spa industry, we seek to incorporate new technology and advancing treatment techniques into our spa experiences. We feature unique treatment table technologies, advanced beauty facial rituals, skin analysis equipment, and advanced hands-on therapies. For example, at our Anantara Spa in Banana Island Resort Doha, our offerings include a unique Ae Motio treatment table that combines a vichy-like water experience, cocooning steam technology, and multicolor light therapy to provide a deeply relaxing experience. On this treatment table, our team performs a nourishing body scrub and wrap that is enhanced through the heat, steam, light therapy, and water jets. A skin analysis machine clearly details the health of the skin, allowing therapists to provide accurate advice on the best facial treatment for optimum results. Elemis Biotec technology that combines high potency actives, a unique skin lift touch and the science of five-in-one bio-electric technology to create a new generation of dynamic facial skincare. This offers guests immediate, visible, and long-lasting results, with a range of seven facials that deliver the complete treatment solution for maximum benefit.
It is now well accepted and statistically supported that wellness tourism is a booming segment of the travel industry. There is a significantly large and growing population that is seeking healthier options while traveling in order to maintain their health regimen and return home feeling better than when they left. In response, Anantara Hotels & Resorts launched Balance Wellness, our signature wellness concept in 2014. Our hotels that have implemented this concept offer guests the flexibility of building singular wellness experiences into their holidays or booking a full one-, three-, or five-day program of activities if they wish to achieve an optimum result. These experiences include fitness activities, meditation, healthy cooking classes, Ayurvedic therapies, educational workshops, and more.
Q. What do you think your clients want in a spa experience, and how, as a company, do you meet those needs?
A. Guests are expecting to feel that all their needs are taken care of. They want to feel completely and utterly rejuvenated, relaxed, and refreshed. They are on holiday and want to walk out of the spa like a new person. This may be through a tension-releasing body massage, a results-driven facial, an herbal steam, or a wellness program. Our guests delight in kindhearted, nurturing service and professional delivery of treatments. They enjoy spa and wellness experiences that reflect local culture. The more our team can truly listen to guests and support their concerns, the more fulfilling their spa and wellness experiences will be. We ensure our teams are able to deliver this experience to guests by focusing heavily on service culture in our training as well as in the curation of our spa and wellness offerings.
Number of spas in portfolio: 35
Number of spas in development: 15
Number of spa employees brand-wide: 375 employees