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Spa People
Scot Toon

Locals want international-style treatments, whereas international guests want local and authentic experiences


What’s your background?
I’ve spent all my career opening and managing luxury resorts and spas in island locations such as The Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Phuket – and also managed a small international spa collection.

Tell us about your current remit?
I’m the MD for The Pavilions Hotels & Resorts and co-founder of new brand, Explorar Hotels & Resorts. We’re a privately-owned company with a number of hotels – we also have other hotels in our group under franchise or management agreements.

Who are your nearest competitors?
For The Pavilions Hotels & Resort, we’d compare ourselves to groups such as Como Hotels, and for Explorar Hotels & Resorts, we’d look at Selina or Mama Shelter hotels.

How has your pandemic been?
Our resorts have made it through and out the other side stronger. My colleague Tim Sargeant and I developed the new Explorar Hotels & Resorts brand through the pandemic, which is an amazing feat, with two resorts opening this year in Thailand.

What’s the vision?
Explorar is inspired by millennial travellers – people who want social travel and are looking for a modern, connected hotel or resort with a social and workspace. These are 4.5-star properties where the ability to explore the destination and location are the reasons for the stay, rather than the rooms.

The Pavilions’ properties are focused on the experiences of the destination, and are all unique hotels that are a destination in themselves, such as our private pool villas in Phuket overlooking the island beaches and sunsets.

Explain the portfolio
The Pavilions Hotels & Resorts will continue to grow in the boutique luxury hotels and resort market through hotel management agreements or franchises. We currently have 11 properties operating, and four in our development pipeline opening over the next three years.


With the Explorar brand, launched 11 months’ ago, we’re looking to be more aggressive as we feel there’s a need for a non-cookie cutter hotel or resort in the four-4.5-star segment. We currently have two hotels opening soon and one in the pipeline.


Tell us about spa and wellness
The Pavilions is a luxury offering with a full spa and wellness experience, indulgent and pampering using luxury international and local products. With Explorar, the spa offering is localised, organic and authentic to local treatments, style and product. We use more natural, in-house made products where possible, such as papaya wraps using fruit picked from the island.

What are the price points?
For The Pavilions’ hotels, a luxury stay in a spa and pool villa with daily massage included is from US$500 (€466, £399) per night. If you head to our Explorar Samui resort, a Seaview Room with a daily massage will be approximately US$180 (€168, £143).

Do you offer residences?
Yes, we offer residences and villa investment at our resorts in Phuket, El Nido (Philippines) and Niseko (Japan). We have a new Pavilions property to be announced soon in Indonesia which will also offer residences.

What’s the look?
The properties are all unique with touches of heritage in art or amenities. Our upcoming resort in El Nido was designed by the Underwood Art Factory in Thailand and will have stunning treehouse designs to fit the natural island environment on Palawan Island.

What’s actually happening at El Nido?
El Nido, Palawan Island, is being developed and managed by the owner and developer who has partnered with Explorar under a franchise agreement. The property will open in 2024.

It will offer an experience where luxury meets nature, with 70 spectacular treehouse villas with private plunge pools surrounded by untouched, lush mountain terrain overlooking the sea.


What amenities will it have?
The resort will feature a permaculture farm and garden, a bar and guest area in ‘The Exchange’, a social space for guests to connect which is special to the Explorar brand, along with spa and wellness utilising local and natural products.

The farm will support the restaurants with fresh ingredients and indigenous products, such as coconut and papaya, that will also be used at the spa. For example, Tsaang Gubat a type of wild tea will be used for healing the skin and incorporated into the spa menu.

Traditional herbal teas will be available at both Explorar Hotels & Resorts and the Pavilions Hotel and Resorts, as these are a key part of traditional healing history in the Philippines. The concepts behind health and wellness provision at all properties are designed to reflect the island experience and its people and traditions.

Tell us about your cluster model
When it opens, El Nido, Palawan Island will be located close to The Pavilions El Nido Palawan Island property, with this cluster model allowing staff to be shared across the two properties.


As both Explorar and Pavilions El Nido sit together on their beach location, the team will work together to provide better cost management of operations and resources. Guests at the Explorar hotel will also have access to more facilities by having access to the Pavilions property.

Do you see clustering as a growing trend?
Yes I do, and it works in key areas of general management, finance and sales and marketing. However further down into the businesses the differentiation of brands can’t work with the same people in two types of brands.

What’s your personal ethos?
Natural, authentic, and mindful are to me what feels important. Eating a healthy, organic diet where possible is the best place for everyone to start and then to take time for yourself, whether it’s a simple meditation or a workout at the gym. ‘Me time’ is important and often hard to find.

What learnings have you fed back into the business?
How we can be more resourceful and ensure we’re not wasteful in any part of the business operations. I’ve also looked more closely at our community and partners, and how we can develop stronger bonds.

Has the pandemic led to you focusing more on local markets?
We’ve always had guests from local markets coming to our destinations, but the focus has shifted towards this market with greater weight. With spa and wellness, we found locals wanting more international-style treatments and products/brands, whereas our international guests want more local and authentic experiences.

What’s your eco policy?
We look for natural and organic products where available, as well as having a policy of buying locally if possible. Reduction of plastics has long been implemented and we’re looking to other areas where we can be more sustainable, such as working on solar implementation.

And your people approach?
Hiring internally is the number one priority; to develop the current team to take on new roles and be rewarded for their success is essential. Benefits and time off for yourself and your family is also key to a healthy work/life balance.

Where do you plan to develop?
We’re focused on southeast Asia, but we also have a partner in Central America and the Caribbean and we’re looking to expand our brands in that exciting part of the world.

Will you launch more brands?
These are the two brands for now, but we may look at an exclusive luxury brand in the future – watch this space.

photo: the pavilions hotels & resorts

"We use natural products wherever possible – such as papaya wraps using fruit picked from the island" – Scot Toon

Treehouses fit into the natural island environment Credit: Photo: Treehouse Villas Koh Yao Noi
Treehouses will have private piunge pools overlooking the sea Credit: Photo: shutterstock/S.R.Lee Photo Traveller
Explorar specialises in developing luxury resorts in island locations Credit: Photo: explorar
El Nido Palawan Island will open in 2024, catering for millennials Credit: Photo: explorar
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News   Products   Magazine
Spa People
Scot Toon

Locals want international-style treatments, whereas international guests want local and authentic experiences


What’s your background?
I’ve spent all my career opening and managing luxury resorts and spas in island locations such as The Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Phuket – and also managed a small international spa collection.

Tell us about your current remit?
I’m the MD for The Pavilions Hotels & Resorts and co-founder of new brand, Explorar Hotels & Resorts. We’re a privately-owned company with a number of hotels – we also have other hotels in our group under franchise or management agreements.

Who are your nearest competitors?
For The Pavilions Hotels & Resort, we’d compare ourselves to groups such as Como Hotels, and for Explorar Hotels & Resorts, we’d look at Selina or Mama Shelter hotels.

How has your pandemic been?
Our resorts have made it through and out the other side stronger. My colleague Tim Sargeant and I developed the new Explorar Hotels & Resorts brand through the pandemic, which is an amazing feat, with two resorts opening this year in Thailand.

What’s the vision?
Explorar is inspired by millennial travellers – people who want social travel and are looking for a modern, connected hotel or resort with a social and workspace. These are 4.5-star properties where the ability to explore the destination and location are the reasons for the stay, rather than the rooms.

The Pavilions’ properties are focused on the experiences of the destination, and are all unique hotels that are a destination in themselves, such as our private pool villas in Phuket overlooking the island beaches and sunsets.

Explain the portfolio
The Pavilions Hotels & Resorts will continue to grow in the boutique luxury hotels and resort market through hotel management agreements or franchises. We currently have 11 properties operating, and four in our development pipeline opening over the next three years.


With the Explorar brand, launched 11 months’ ago, we’re looking to be more aggressive as we feel there’s a need for a non-cookie cutter hotel or resort in the four-4.5-star segment. We currently have two hotels opening soon and one in the pipeline.


Tell us about spa and wellness
The Pavilions is a luxury offering with a full spa and wellness experience, indulgent and pampering using luxury international and local products. With Explorar, the spa offering is localised, organic and authentic to local treatments, style and product. We use more natural, in-house made products where possible, such as papaya wraps using fruit picked from the island.

What are the price points?
For The Pavilions’ hotels, a luxury stay in a spa and pool villa with daily massage included is from US$500 (€466, £399) per night. If you head to our Explorar Samui resort, a Seaview Room with a daily massage will be approximately US$180 (€168, £143).

Do you offer residences?
Yes, we offer residences and villa investment at our resorts in Phuket, El Nido (Philippines) and Niseko (Japan). We have a new Pavilions property to be announced soon in Indonesia which will also offer residences.

What’s the look?
The properties are all unique with touches of heritage in art or amenities. Our upcoming resort in El Nido was designed by the Underwood Art Factory in Thailand and will have stunning treehouse designs to fit the natural island environment on Palawan Island.

What’s actually happening at El Nido?
El Nido, Palawan Island, is being developed and managed by the owner and developer who has partnered with Explorar under a franchise agreement. The property will open in 2024.

It will offer an experience where luxury meets nature, with 70 spectacular treehouse villas with private plunge pools surrounded by untouched, lush mountain terrain overlooking the sea.


What amenities will it have?
The resort will feature a permaculture farm and garden, a bar and guest area in ‘The Exchange’, a social space for guests to connect which is special to the Explorar brand, along with spa and wellness utilising local and natural products.

The farm will support the restaurants with fresh ingredients and indigenous products, such as coconut and papaya, that will also be used at the spa. For example, Tsaang Gubat a type of wild tea will be used for healing the skin and incorporated into the spa menu.

Traditional herbal teas will be available at both Explorar Hotels & Resorts and the Pavilions Hotel and Resorts, as these are a key part of traditional healing history in the Philippines. The concepts behind health and wellness provision at all properties are designed to reflect the island experience and its people and traditions.

Tell us about your cluster model
When it opens, El Nido, Palawan Island will be located close to The Pavilions El Nido Palawan Island property, with this cluster model allowing staff to be shared across the two properties.


As both Explorar and Pavilions El Nido sit together on their beach location, the team will work together to provide better cost management of operations and resources. Guests at the Explorar hotel will also have access to more facilities by having access to the Pavilions property.

Do you see clustering as a growing trend?
Yes I do, and it works in key areas of general management, finance and sales and marketing. However further down into the businesses the differentiation of brands can’t work with the same people in two types of brands.

What’s your personal ethos?
Natural, authentic, and mindful are to me what feels important. Eating a healthy, organic diet where possible is the best place for everyone to start and then to take time for yourself, whether it’s a simple meditation or a workout at the gym. ‘Me time’ is important and often hard to find.

What learnings have you fed back into the business?
How we can be more resourceful and ensure we’re not wasteful in any part of the business operations. I’ve also looked more closely at our community and partners, and how we can develop stronger bonds.

Has the pandemic led to you focusing more on local markets?
We’ve always had guests from local markets coming to our destinations, but the focus has shifted towards this market with greater weight. With spa and wellness, we found locals wanting more international-style treatments and products/brands, whereas our international guests want more local and authentic experiences.

What’s your eco policy?
We look for natural and organic products where available, as well as having a policy of buying locally if possible. Reduction of plastics has long been implemented and we’re looking to other areas where we can be more sustainable, such as working on solar implementation.

And your people approach?
Hiring internally is the number one priority; to develop the current team to take on new roles and be rewarded for their success is essential. Benefits and time off for yourself and your family is also key to a healthy work/life balance.

Where do you plan to develop?
We’re focused on southeast Asia, but we also have a partner in Central America and the Caribbean and we’re looking to expand our brands in that exciting part of the world.

Will you launch more brands?
These are the two brands for now, but we may look at an exclusive luxury brand in the future – watch this space.

photo: the pavilions hotels & resorts

"We use natural products wherever possible – such as papaya wraps using fruit picked from the island" – Scot Toon

Treehouses fit into the natural island environment Credit: Photo: Treehouse Villas Koh Yao Noi
Treehouses will have private piunge pools overlooking the sea Credit: Photo: shutterstock/S.R.Lee Photo Traveller
Explorar specialises in developing luxury resorts in island locations Credit: Photo: explorar
El Nido Palawan Island will open in 2024, catering for millennials Credit: Photo: explorar
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Medical Wellness Congress

St. Martins Spa & Lodge, Frauenkirchen, Austria
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2022 Salt Therapy Association Conference

Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Disney Springs® Resort, Lake Buena Vista, United States
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ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

Leisure Media
Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2022

ABOUT LEISURE MEDIA
LEISURE MEDIA MAGAZINES
LEISURE MEDIA HANDBOOKS
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