In the latest issue of Spa Business
, Kerzner’s new global wellness director Zoe Wall gives the lowdown on the resort developer and operator’s long term wellness gameplan. The overall strategy
“We want to position our hotels with wellness as a central resort hub and not just an add-on or an afterthought,” Wall says.
At present, Kerzner’s portfolio includes 12 One&Only Resorts, Mazagan Beach & Golf Resort in Morocco and three Atlantis Resort & Residences – with an anticipated cap of five being built, given their US$2bn price tag.
In 2021, the brand had also outlined plans to grow its portfolio with the launch of a new fitness-focused hospitality concept called Siro Hotels.
Wall has been brought on board to align and define each brand’s wellness offering. She says the most important thing for Kerzner is that each hotel group is very distinct, so each concept needs to be unique to that brand. Right time, right place
Of all the brands, One&Only has the largest wellness focus following an alignment with Chenot Group in 2019.
Fast-forward three years and only two Chenot Spas have opened, in Malaysia and Montenegro.
However, Wall says Chenot will feature at upcoming locations in Greece and Montana.
“When that deal was signed, it seemed Chenot would roll out across all properties,” she says, “But Kerzner soon realised that medical wellness is complex and requires a completely different business model from a spa.”
Adding medical across the One&Only portfolio isn’t viable says Wall, and also doesn’t really make sense.
“Having worked on medical spas for years, I know demand is specific to certain locations and markets. The destinations where you launch must have the infrastructure to support it. You need the capacity for hospital collaborations so you can run diagnostic tests, for example.”
Licensing and expensive staffing are also pitfalls, especially because regulation varies by region, while refits are challenging.
“If you’re doing greenfield projects, you build your spa to meet requirements, but if you’re pivoting an existing spa to incorporate medical, it’s more difficult,” she adds.
Guest perspectives are also a factor, because positioning a medical offering where the majority are on holiday can cause a mismatch of expectations.
“I agree there’s a space for medical in the right location, but that offering has to be adapted if it’s a luxury hotel where guests are predominantly on holiday,” says Wall. “The biggest challenge going forward will be to make the medical model more hospitality-friendly.” Joining forces
Partnering up One&Only properties will either open in partnership with Chenot or offer a holistic wellness pathway in partnership with other brands, something Wall is already pursuing.
She’s gained inspiration from collaborations with fashion houses such as Guerlain, Givenchy and Dior, having seen strong results at the Guerlain Spa One&Only The Palm, in Dubai which delivers 130-150 treatments a day.
“I was impressed by the attention to detail in the spa, retail boutique and treatments,” she says, “the entire guest journey is very high couture.
“Previously I think these luxury brands only wanted one exclusive spa, but now they’re open to exploring collaborations with high-end hotels,” she says.
“From their perspective, they’ve changed their business dynamics because these spas can be very profitable – they also massively drive retail.
A couple of well-known fashion house spas in Paris have a retail turnover of a couple of million euros annually.
“Much like Chenot, a partnership like this wouldn’t be for every location,” says Wall, “but perhaps more for urban locations where you have the footfall.”
Wall says 40 per cent of Guerlain Spa’s custom comes from day guests, something she’s impressed by as it’s not the most accessible location in Dubai. “The fact guests are willing to drive all that way is telling. So for city locations where we have the residential locations, I think partnerships like this could be interesting,” she continues.
Wall doesn’t confirm which brands she’s looking into, but she’s searching further afield for fashion house tie-ups that are new to the spa market. Head to the latest issue of Spa Business to read the full interview and hear more about Kerzner’s future projects – including the fitness-focused Siro – and how Wall intends to maintain momentum behind the rise in demand for spa and wellness.