WSW Asia speaker Zoe Wall on her plans for MSpa International
While some people are content to ease themselves into a new role, it’s been “full steam ahead” for Zoe Wall, who candidly admits that when it comes to wellness – the group has some catching up to do.
Wall, who has been described by Minor execs as a “go-getter with relentless drive and vision”, succeeds Patrick Huey as group director of Spa Asia at MSpa, the spa management arm of Thailand-based Minor Hotels Group which includes Anantara Hotels and Resorts.
Wall is tasked with setting and implementing MSpa’s business strategy in the Asia region, as well as for the overall performance of 45 spas, including all pre-opening and expansion activities.
Prior to the appointment Wall spent 10 years in Dubai where she was part of the pre-opening team for the spa at the Atlantis, The Palm.
She first joined Anantara Hotels & Resorts as spa director in Dubai in 2013. Her duties varied from launching the spas at Anantara, The Palm and Banana Island Resort in Doha to managing the day-to-day operations of the Anantara Spa at Eastern Mangroves in Abu Dhabi.
Now based in Bangkok, Thailand, Wall admits that she thrives in fast-paced work surroundings. “I’ve had a busy start. Minor culture is all or nothing. You either fit the mold or you don’t. It’s a really results-driven company. They make things happen and I really like that.”
Wall’s strategy to take the group’s spa arm to what she describes as a “higher level” is heavily centred on implementing bespoke wellness in key spas in her portfolio, which spans Thailand, Sri Lanka, China and the Maldives.
“The Anantara brand has been doing the same thing for a very, very long time,” she admits. “We’ve been opening spas and properties in a way that is not exactly cut and paste – but largely with the same kind of concept and menus.
“We’ve been trying to move forward with wellness but there have been ups and downs and there’s been a long period where nobody has driven wellness. During this time, other hotel groups have been pushing wellness and we’ve kind of been left behind. As a brand, we’re not currently known for wellness.”
She has staunch support from the top with Minor chief executive officer William Heinecke himself pushing for a greater focus on wellness and encouraging her to be a thought leader. “From the start, Mr Heinecke has been very clear with me. He told me not to be afraid of trying a new approach. He said he didn’t want me to get stuck into doing things the way they’ve always been done.”
Initially, Wall says a priority is simply education and relationship building to ensure that everyone is “on the same page” when it comes to wellness. “Sometimes there’s a lot of negativity from GMs surrounding wellness – they believe that wellness can’t make money for their hotels.
“If it’s not done in the right way then, yes, you’re not going to see impact on incremental revenue and in fact wellness can actually be a cost to the hotel. But the good news is, if done in the right way it can generate good revenue for a hotel.
“We need to take a bespoke approach depending on the hotel facilities, staff, guest mix and average spend – all this needs to be taken into consideration.”
Wall explains this will include leveraging Thai traditions – such as Thai medicine in Thailand and, where appropriate, collaboration with providers of medispa treatments, nutritional services and physiotherapy.
“I want to take Anantara and Minor to the next level – for us to be more modern, up-to-date and current within the industry. I am all for staying true to our culture but we have to keep up with the times in a fast-paced industry that’s constantly evolving, and for modern spa guests who are far more switched on than ever before.”
Zoe Wall is speaking at the WSW Convention Asia 2018 on Training – What are the options? The session will be held at 11.20am on Tuesday 22 May 2018.
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