Top Team
Accor


Following its acquisition of FRHI last year, Accor has created a wellbeing division for its luxury properties. Katie Barnes talks to the people driving the change

From Spa Business 2017 issue 1 . . BY Katie Barnes, Spa Business

The end of 2015 saw the announcement of two major mergers in global hospitality as US hospitality brand Marriott revealed its intention to buy rival Starwood Hotels & Resorts for US$12.2bn, and soon after Paris-based AccorHotels Group confirmed its interest in acquiring FRHI Hotels & Resorts.

Accor was the first to complete its deal, buying FRHI in July 2016 for a reported US$2.7bn, making it one of the biggest hotel groups in the world.

Accor operates the Sofitel, Pullman, MGallery, Novotel and ibis brands, among others, and has around 3,800 properties, while the FRHI portfolio includes the brands Raffles, Fairmont and Swissôtel, with approximately 130 sites, plus more in development. While the merger represents an undeniably huge shake-up in hotel circles, it’s also set to have an equally significant impact in spa terms – affecting more than 250 facilities globally – merging two international spa teams as well as numerous spa concepts, including Sofitel’s SoSpa, Fairmont’s Willow Stream Spas and Swissôtel’s Pürovel.

Moving forwards, the spa focus will be centred around the six main high-end brands of Sofitel, MGallery and Pullman, and Fairmont, Raffles and Swissôtel, which will all fall under the remit of the newly created AccorHotels Luxury Brands division. And in a particularly interesting and noteworthy move, the group has created not a spa, but a ‘wellbeing’ department, which will see a focus on wellness throughout all hotel departments – a shrewd move given the growing momentum behind the wellness hotel movement.

But why has Accor decided to go down this route, how will it implement a wider wellness strategy, who’s behind it – and where will spas fit? Spa Business talks to those executing the changes to find out.


Top Team

 

l Cahill says he’ll be vigilant about factors contributing to an imperceptible sense of wellbeing
 
Chris Cahill CEO Accor Luxury

Cahill has worked in the hotel industry since his early twenties, with a focus on operations, multi-brand management, sales and marketing. Prior to joining Accor, he was with Las Vegas Sands Corp, but before that he spent nearly 20 years with FRHI. “Joining Accor, with its recent acquisition of FRHI, feels like a bit of a homecoming,” he says.

Why is Accor’s acquisition of FRHI so significant?
The acquisition of FRHI instantly catapulted AccorHotels from being the largest and most experienced hotel group in Europe to being a global leader in the luxury hotel market. This is an enormous milestone for our group, to take on management of icons such as The Savoy in London, Raffles Singapore, and New York’s The Plaza. The deal has also given Accor a sizeable foothold in North America, the world’s largest consumer market.

Accor has introduced a wellbeing team - what is the rationale behind this?
Luxury is a high-touch business and our luxury brands require dedicated resources on key service touch points. Both Accor and FRHI already had a strong commitment to spa and wellbeing, and with such great talent in the company, it was an easy decision to continue to expand on this and establish it as one of the fundamentals for our Luxury Brands structure.

What’s your vision for Accor’s luxury division and how does wellbeing tie in with this?
Wellbeing is now a concern that has been elevated to the attention of governments and international organisations such as WHO and UNESCO. It’s good business to include a level of expertise and a strategy towards wellbeing that arms our group with the resources to meet the demands – and future demands – of guests, and to help define our philosophy. If our guests leave our hotels feeling energised and healthier than when they arrived, we’ll have done our job.

Typically wellbeing in hotels is restricted to spas. Why is Accor taking it a step further to include other hotel departments?
Wellness does not begin or end at the doors of the spa. A sense of wellbeing may be achieved through services within the classic spa environment, or through great fitness facilities, but also through less obvious areas. For example, we might include open kitchens where guests are welcome to engage with the chef, or more stimulating social areas, or more outdoor pursuits. We will be vigilant about factors contributing to an imperceptible sense of wellbeing, such as air, water, lighting and sound quality. These concepts all contribute to the achievement of guest wellbeing.


"Wellbeing is now a concern that has been elevated to the attention of governments and international organisations"

 



‘If guests leave feeling healthier than when they arrived, we’ll have done our job’

Top Team

 

Gibson will look at how to provide wellness throughout the hotel
 
Andrew Gibson Vice president of wellbeing, Accor Luxury

Andrew Gibson has more than 30 years of experience in spa and wellness, fitness and resort development, and has worked with Six Senses, Mandarin Oriental, and Raison d’Etre, before he was vice president of spa and wellness for FRHI, and now VP of wellbeing for Accor.

What will your new role at Accor entail?
The title of VP of wellbeing is new to the hospitality industry and provides an insight to the forward-thinking approach Accor has towards providing hospitality for all. As VP of wellbeing, I’ll be exploring how we provide wellness services and design processes throughout the hotel so that a guest can leave our hotels feeling energised and healthier than when they arrived – a concept of imperceptible wellness.

Wellbeing extends beyond fitness and spa, affecting the thought process behind the design and function of guestrooms, the interaction of food and beverage with spa and fitness, and the energy levels in public areas. I think the timing is right to move into the field of wellbeing. My career has evolved from fitness in a hotel to spa and now to wellbeing, which reflects how societies have evolved with the growing awareness and demand for wellness services.

The challenges remain remarkably similar at each paradigm shift in thought. We still have to convince the leaders in hospitality that change is coming, that it will be profitable to the brand, and it will reflect the demand from guests.

Wellbeing may seem a little abstract today, and many features will fail, but the successful features will become standard in all hotels within the next five years, and AccorHotels wants to be among the best providers of wellbeing. My job is to identify what we think will be successful, and then convince our teams to embrace the changes.

How challenging has it been to merge two spa teams?
We have two extremely talented teams with a depth of experience. Both Lindsay and Aldina are dedicated professionals who are well-respected throughout the industry and bring tremendous knowledge to the team. Our goals and objectives are remarkably similar, so the challenge is how to retain the unique identity for each brand and capitalise on the synergies and best practices we have within each group.

We should not expect a radical change in the look and feel of each of the luxury and upscale brands within Accor, but more of a natural transition that embraces many of the wellness concepts that are introduced.

What are the challenges facing the wellbeing team?
The spa contributes towards a hotel’s success in many ways. Society and governments are changing their attitudes towards maintaining healthy communities, which will require companies to adapt to systems that protect the wellness of their employees, as well as their guests.

Accor will be agile and well-positioned to adapt and change to meet these challenges. The biggest challenge for our wellbeing team is to convince hotel owners that they need to plan and invest for future shifts in demand and governance.


"A guest can leave our hotels feeling healthier than when they arrived – a concept of imperceptible wellness"

 



The spa contributes to a hotel’s success in many ways

Top Team

 

l Duarte Ramos will design integrated wellness experiences for Sofitel, Pullman and Swissôtel
 
Aldina Duarte Ramos Director of Wellbeing Sofitel, Swissôtel and Pullman

After starting her career with Hôtel Le Bristol Paris, Aldina Duarte Ramos worked for skincare brand Anne Semonin, managing spa operations for the launch of the brand’s flagship spa in Bangkok. She joined Accor in 2004 as spa product manager, building the LeSpa multi-brand concept and overseeing its international expansion, before creating Sofitel’s SoFIT and SoSPA wellbeing concepts. She’s just finalised Pullman’s spa and fitness concepts.

How would you describe your new role?
When it comes to spa projects, wellness initiatives and implementations, I supervise activity for Sofitel Legend, SO Sofitel, Sofitel, Pullman and will now add Swissôtel and the brand’s Pürovel concept to my scope on the global scale. A key focus will be to integrate the work processes of our merged companies and adapt and harmonise the workflow.

How crucial will spas be to the overall wellbeing strategy?
The current strategy goes beyond spa philosophy and targets accessible wellness as an optional service. Spa is the fourth pillar of our wellbeing strategy, alongside sleep, food and sport. We conducted a five-month pilot across the world in order to challenge and adapt all the wellness initiatives for each brand. This input fuelled our brand guidelines as we monitored best practices, and assessed cost and implementation challenges. I created training modules and an e-learning platform so our team members could share experiences, tools and advice. We also recently launched a spa management programme, and I attended all sessions to make sure that our guidelines and brand collateral material translated into the respective actions plans.

How are you going to create a point of difference for each of the Accor Luxury brands?
Our wellbeing strategy is adapted to each brand’s DNA. For Sofitel, we started a collaboration with the fashion model and actress Marisa Berenson. Marisa has a beautiful approach of wellbeing and lifestyle; she is a SoSPA muse and the symbol of effortless wellbeing. For Pullman, we worked with Sarah Hoey, who is a coach, yoga instructor and nutritionist, and also a millennial driven by the motto ‘work hard, play hard.’

What’s your goal for 2017?
I’ll focus on spa concepts, logistics, business plans, and wellbeing execution and implementation, working closely with architects and designers. I’ll also provide support to general managers on how to drive their wellness operations, optimise resources, develop talent, leverage strategic partnerships, and achieve relevant KPIs. And I’ll design integrated wellness experiences, enhancing guest satisfaction through improved client flow, treatment quality, luxury service standards, and effective menu engineering.


"Spa is the fourth pillar of our wellbeing strategy, alongside sleep, food and sport"

 



Duarte Ramos created Sofitel’s SoSPA concept


Lindsay Madden-Nadeau Director of wellbeing Fairmont, Raffles, MGallery

 

Lindsay Madden-Nadeau
 

Lindsay Madden-Nadeau began her career with Fairmont in Bermuda, helping to open the Willow Stream Spa. She spent 12 years working for FRHI before leaving to work with Madinat Jumeirah at the Talise Spa, and then for Minor Hotels, before returning to FRHI almost three years ago, where she was global director of spa operations and integration.

How would you describe your new role?
As director of wellbeing for Fairmont, Raffles and MGallery, I’ll assist in defining what ‘wellbeing’ means to each of these brands. The biggest change in my role is moving away from operations and financials and focusing on the refinement and positioning of our spa brands. We’ll have regional supports who focus on operational excellence, which will free up more time for me to evolve our brands.

What’s the wellbeing strategy for each of the hotel brands?
Raffles Spa is a smaller, more refined offer of spa and fitness, and is unique in each destination. It focuses on space, privacy and time in a truly luxurious environment.

Fairmont wellbeing will focus more on a selection of lifestyle choices, expanding our current offering and tying loose ends together. For MGallery, wellbeing will be quirky and memorable and directed to each region, but with a common thread; we will really be thinking outside the box in setting future trends.

We don’t want to rush this; we really want to get it right, from the brand ethos to the guest experience, all the way down to the design, so the entire experience speaks to the guests individually. Our goal is not just to create a great platform and tick the boxes, but to actually live it through each guest experience. We want to create an adaptable platform that owners and guests can choose from that’s feasible for our properties.

What are going to be your biggest challenges moving forward?
As with any large company, creating consistency is the toughest job. The solution will be to set up a regional structure and mentor these regional teams, which will support our operations and brand recognition. We also need to ensure that communication is strong and we connect with the teams.

What’s the most exciting thing about this acquisition for you?
Everything is exciting – there isn’t anything that is unappealing right now. We have a larger portfolio of hotels, which means more exposure and more learning day-to-day. I’m passionate about teaching our Accor colleagues more about the FRHI brands, so they have a better understanding of the luxury division they’ve inherited. For Fairmont and MGallery – the potential is limitless and the opportunities often keep me up at night!


"As with any large company, creating consistency is the toughest job"

Thalassotherapy another Wellness component for Accor

Accor operates 14 seawater spas under the Thalassa Sea & Spas brands, with locations in France, Italy, Morocco and Bahrain.

Thalassa locations use seawater therapy to boost respiratory and circulatory systems, and include body treatments, exercise and nutrition. While thalassotherapy has a strong wellness component, the Thalassa Sea & Spas brand has its own specialised team, which is separate from Accor’s Luxury Wellbeing division.
“Thalassotherapy is a very specific wellness service, which is mainly found in the French and Spanish markets,” Gibson explains.

Cahill says that Accor currently has a dedicated team supporting its thalassotherapy services and there are no plans to change that for now. That said, he says, “As our wellbeing initiatives evolve, we are certain to find ways to integrate the benefits of this treatment with other facets of our guest services.”

 



Thalassa locations use seawater therapy
 


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Spa Business
2017 issue 1

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Spa Business - Accor

Top Team

From Spa Business 2017 issue 1
Accor


Following its acquisition of FRHI last year, Accor has created a wellbeing division for its luxury properties. Katie Barnes talks to the people driving the change

Katie Barnes, Spa Business
AccorHotels Luxury Brands

The end of 2015 saw the announcement of two major mergers in global hospitality as US hospitality brand Marriott revealed its intention to buy rival Starwood Hotels & Resorts for US$12.2bn, and soon after Paris-based AccorHotels Group confirmed its interest in acquiring FRHI Hotels & Resorts.

Accor was the first to complete its deal, buying FRHI in July 2016 for a reported US$2.7bn, making it one of the biggest hotel groups in the world.

Accor operates the Sofitel, Pullman, MGallery, Novotel and ibis brands, among others, and has around 3,800 properties, while the FRHI portfolio includes the brands Raffles, Fairmont and Swissôtel, with approximately 130 sites, plus more in development. While the merger represents an undeniably huge shake-up in hotel circles, it’s also set to have an equally significant impact in spa terms – affecting more than 250 facilities globally – merging two international spa teams as well as numerous spa concepts, including Sofitel’s SoSpa, Fairmont’s Willow Stream Spas and Swissôtel’s Pürovel.

Moving forwards, the spa focus will be centred around the six main high-end brands of Sofitel, MGallery and Pullman, and Fairmont, Raffles and Swissôtel, which will all fall under the remit of the newly created AccorHotels Luxury Brands division. And in a particularly interesting and noteworthy move, the group has created not a spa, but a ‘wellbeing’ department, which will see a focus on wellness throughout all hotel departments – a shrewd move given the growing momentum behind the wellness hotel movement.

But why has Accor decided to go down this route, how will it implement a wider wellness strategy, who’s behind it – and where will spas fit? Spa Business talks to those executing the changes to find out.


Top Team

 

l Cahill says he’ll be vigilant about factors contributing to an imperceptible sense of wellbeing
 
Chris Cahill CEO Accor Luxury

Cahill has worked in the hotel industry since his early twenties, with a focus on operations, multi-brand management, sales and marketing. Prior to joining Accor, he was with Las Vegas Sands Corp, but before that he spent nearly 20 years with FRHI. “Joining Accor, with its recent acquisition of FRHI, feels like a bit of a homecoming,” he says.

Why is Accor’s acquisition of FRHI so significant?
The acquisition of FRHI instantly catapulted AccorHotels from being the largest and most experienced hotel group in Europe to being a global leader in the luxury hotel market. This is an enormous milestone for our group, to take on management of icons such as The Savoy in London, Raffles Singapore, and New York’s The Plaza. The deal has also given Accor a sizeable foothold in North America, the world’s largest consumer market.

Accor has introduced a wellbeing team - what is the rationale behind this?
Luxury is a high-touch business and our luxury brands require dedicated resources on key service touch points. Both Accor and FRHI already had a strong commitment to spa and wellbeing, and with such great talent in the company, it was an easy decision to continue to expand on this and establish it as one of the fundamentals for our Luxury Brands structure.

What’s your vision for Accor’s luxury division and how does wellbeing tie in with this?
Wellbeing is now a concern that has been elevated to the attention of governments and international organisations such as WHO and UNESCO. It’s good business to include a level of expertise and a strategy towards wellbeing that arms our group with the resources to meet the demands – and future demands – of guests, and to help define our philosophy. If our guests leave our hotels feeling energised and healthier than when they arrived, we’ll have done our job.

Typically wellbeing in hotels is restricted to spas. Why is Accor taking it a step further to include other hotel departments?
Wellness does not begin or end at the doors of the spa. A sense of wellbeing may be achieved through services within the classic spa environment, or through great fitness facilities, but also through less obvious areas. For example, we might include open kitchens where guests are welcome to engage with the chef, or more stimulating social areas, or more outdoor pursuits. We will be vigilant about factors contributing to an imperceptible sense of wellbeing, such as air, water, lighting and sound quality. These concepts all contribute to the achievement of guest wellbeing.


"Wellbeing is now a concern that has been elevated to the attention of governments and international organisations"

 



‘If guests leave feeling healthier than when they arrived, we’ll have done our job’

Top Team

 

Gibson will look at how to provide wellness throughout the hotel
 
Andrew Gibson Vice president of wellbeing, Accor Luxury

Andrew Gibson has more than 30 years of experience in spa and wellness, fitness and resort development, and has worked with Six Senses, Mandarin Oriental, and Raison d’Etre, before he was vice president of spa and wellness for FRHI, and now VP of wellbeing for Accor.

What will your new role at Accor entail?
The title of VP of wellbeing is new to the hospitality industry and provides an insight to the forward-thinking approach Accor has towards providing hospitality for all. As VP of wellbeing, I’ll be exploring how we provide wellness services and design processes throughout the hotel so that a guest can leave our hotels feeling energised and healthier than when they arrived – a concept of imperceptible wellness.

Wellbeing extends beyond fitness and spa, affecting the thought process behind the design and function of guestrooms, the interaction of food and beverage with spa and fitness, and the energy levels in public areas. I think the timing is right to move into the field of wellbeing. My career has evolved from fitness in a hotel to spa and now to wellbeing, which reflects how societies have evolved with the growing awareness and demand for wellness services.

The challenges remain remarkably similar at each paradigm shift in thought. We still have to convince the leaders in hospitality that change is coming, that it will be profitable to the brand, and it will reflect the demand from guests.

Wellbeing may seem a little abstract today, and many features will fail, but the successful features will become standard in all hotels within the next five years, and AccorHotels wants to be among the best providers of wellbeing. My job is to identify what we think will be successful, and then convince our teams to embrace the changes.

How challenging has it been to merge two spa teams?
We have two extremely talented teams with a depth of experience. Both Lindsay and Aldina are dedicated professionals who are well-respected throughout the industry and bring tremendous knowledge to the team. Our goals and objectives are remarkably similar, so the challenge is how to retain the unique identity for each brand and capitalise on the synergies and best practices we have within each group.

We should not expect a radical change in the look and feel of each of the luxury and upscale brands within Accor, but more of a natural transition that embraces many of the wellness concepts that are introduced.

What are the challenges facing the wellbeing team?
The spa contributes towards a hotel’s success in many ways. Society and governments are changing their attitudes towards maintaining healthy communities, which will require companies to adapt to systems that protect the wellness of their employees, as well as their guests.

Accor will be agile and well-positioned to adapt and change to meet these challenges. The biggest challenge for our wellbeing team is to convince hotel owners that they need to plan and invest for future shifts in demand and governance.


"A guest can leave our hotels feeling healthier than when they arrived – a concept of imperceptible wellness"

 



The spa contributes to a hotel’s success in many ways

Top Team

 

l Duarte Ramos will design integrated wellness experiences for Sofitel, Pullman and Swissôtel
 
Aldina Duarte Ramos Director of Wellbeing Sofitel, Swissôtel and Pullman

After starting her career with Hôtel Le Bristol Paris, Aldina Duarte Ramos worked for skincare brand Anne Semonin, managing spa operations for the launch of the brand’s flagship spa in Bangkok. She joined Accor in 2004 as spa product manager, building the LeSpa multi-brand concept and overseeing its international expansion, before creating Sofitel’s SoFIT and SoSPA wellbeing concepts. She’s just finalised Pullman’s spa and fitness concepts.

How would you describe your new role?
When it comes to spa projects, wellness initiatives and implementations, I supervise activity for Sofitel Legend, SO Sofitel, Sofitel, Pullman and will now add Swissôtel and the brand’s Pürovel concept to my scope on the global scale. A key focus will be to integrate the work processes of our merged companies and adapt and harmonise the workflow.

How crucial will spas be to the overall wellbeing strategy?
The current strategy goes beyond spa philosophy and targets accessible wellness as an optional service. Spa is the fourth pillar of our wellbeing strategy, alongside sleep, food and sport. We conducted a five-month pilot across the world in order to challenge and adapt all the wellness initiatives for each brand. This input fuelled our brand guidelines as we monitored best practices, and assessed cost and implementation challenges. I created training modules and an e-learning platform so our team members could share experiences, tools and advice. We also recently launched a spa management programme, and I attended all sessions to make sure that our guidelines and brand collateral material translated into the respective actions plans.

How are you going to create a point of difference for each of the Accor Luxury brands?
Our wellbeing strategy is adapted to each brand’s DNA. For Sofitel, we started a collaboration with the fashion model and actress Marisa Berenson. Marisa has a beautiful approach of wellbeing and lifestyle; she is a SoSPA muse and the symbol of effortless wellbeing. For Pullman, we worked with Sarah Hoey, who is a coach, yoga instructor and nutritionist, and also a millennial driven by the motto ‘work hard, play hard.’

What’s your goal for 2017?
I’ll focus on spa concepts, logistics, business plans, and wellbeing execution and implementation, working closely with architects and designers. I’ll also provide support to general managers on how to drive their wellness operations, optimise resources, develop talent, leverage strategic partnerships, and achieve relevant KPIs. And I’ll design integrated wellness experiences, enhancing guest satisfaction through improved client flow, treatment quality, luxury service standards, and effective menu engineering.


"Spa is the fourth pillar of our wellbeing strategy, alongside sleep, food and sport"

 



Duarte Ramos created Sofitel’s SoSPA concept


Lindsay Madden-Nadeau Director of wellbeing Fairmont, Raffles, MGallery

 

Lindsay Madden-Nadeau
 

Lindsay Madden-Nadeau began her career with Fairmont in Bermuda, helping to open the Willow Stream Spa. She spent 12 years working for FRHI before leaving to work with Madinat Jumeirah at the Talise Spa, and then for Minor Hotels, before returning to FRHI almost three years ago, where she was global director of spa operations and integration.

How would you describe your new role?
As director of wellbeing for Fairmont, Raffles and MGallery, I’ll assist in defining what ‘wellbeing’ means to each of these brands. The biggest change in my role is moving away from operations and financials and focusing on the refinement and positioning of our spa brands. We’ll have regional supports who focus on operational excellence, which will free up more time for me to evolve our brands.

What’s the wellbeing strategy for each of the hotel brands?
Raffles Spa is a smaller, more refined offer of spa and fitness, and is unique in each destination. It focuses on space, privacy and time in a truly luxurious environment.

Fairmont wellbeing will focus more on a selection of lifestyle choices, expanding our current offering and tying loose ends together. For MGallery, wellbeing will be quirky and memorable and directed to each region, but with a common thread; we will really be thinking outside the box in setting future trends.

We don’t want to rush this; we really want to get it right, from the brand ethos to the guest experience, all the way down to the design, so the entire experience speaks to the guests individually. Our goal is not just to create a great platform and tick the boxes, but to actually live it through each guest experience. We want to create an adaptable platform that owners and guests can choose from that’s feasible for our properties.

What are going to be your biggest challenges moving forward?
As with any large company, creating consistency is the toughest job. The solution will be to set up a regional structure and mentor these regional teams, which will support our operations and brand recognition. We also need to ensure that communication is strong and we connect with the teams.

What’s the most exciting thing about this acquisition for you?
Everything is exciting – there isn’t anything that is unappealing right now. We have a larger portfolio of hotels, which means more exposure and more learning day-to-day. I’m passionate about teaching our Accor colleagues more about the FRHI brands, so they have a better understanding of the luxury division they’ve inherited. For Fairmont and MGallery – the potential is limitless and the opportunities often keep me up at night!


"As with any large company, creating consistency is the toughest job"

Thalassotherapy another Wellness component for Accor

Accor operates 14 seawater spas under the Thalassa Sea & Spas brands, with locations in France, Italy, Morocco and Bahrain.

Thalassa locations use seawater therapy to boost respiratory and circulatory systems, and include body treatments, exercise and nutrition. While thalassotherapy has a strong wellness component, the Thalassa Sea & Spas brand has its own specialised team, which is separate from Accor’s Luxury Wellbeing division.
“Thalassotherapy is a very specific wellness service, which is mainly found in the French and Spanish markets,” Gibson explains.

Cahill says that Accor currently has a dedicated team supporting its thalassotherapy services and there are no plans to change that for now. That said, he says, “As our wellbeing initiatives evolve, we are certain to find ways to integrate the benefits of this treatment with other facets of our guest services.”

 



Thalassa locations use seawater therapy

Originally published in Spa Business magazine 2017 issue 1

Published by The Leisure Media Company Ltd Portmill House, Portmill Lane, Hitchin, Herts SG5 1DJ. Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385 | Contact us | About us | © Cybertrek Ltd