Mineral Spa
Mission accomplished

Are golf and wellness the perfect partners? Jennifer Harbottle visits China’s Mission Hills Haikou, which has one of the world’s largest golf club facilities and biggest spa and mineral springs, to find out how the two are clubbing together

By Jennifer Harbottle | Published in Spa Business 2014 issue 3


Mission Hills Haikou in south China has 10 golf courses and is part of the largest golf club facility in the world. Tiger Woods competes there, it hosted the 2014 World Ladies Championship and stars like Matthew McConaughey and footballer Ronaldo stay to play in celebrity matches.

If golf’s not your thing, chances are you haven’t heard of it, yet Mission Hills Haikou also boasts one of the world’s largest spa and mineral springs. With 168 natural, mineral pools and a staggering 90 treatment rooms, including 29 in-villa spa treatment suites, the 88,000sq m (947,222sq ft) wellness component is quite astonishing. Despite the challenges of operating something so big, the spa team delivers a personable experience and also reports healthy profits. So how does it do it?

Teeing off
The Mission Hills Group is a family-owned hospitality business with three integrated leisure and wellness resorts in China. Each of its developments in Shenzen, Dongguan and Haikou share the same model; a five-star resort, a spa, a number of golf courses and high-end luxury housing.

Originally from Hong Kong, the Chu family that owns the Mission Hills Group made its money in the paper carton business, before investing in golf courses in Shenzen and Dongguan in 1992, which they developed into leisure destination resorts. In 2008, they bought cheap volcanic land in Haikou on the southern Chinese island of Hainan to create a resort. Two things happened next which turned Mission Hills Haikou from another golf leisure property, into a behemoth world-class wellness facility unlike anything else in China.

Firstly, surveyors discovered previously undetected volcanic mineral springs 800m below ground. The Beijing Health Lab tested the water and declared its high quality of minerals excellent for bathing. At this point, Mission Hills Group decided to make the volcanic springs a major feature of the resort.

At the same time, the chairman of the company became ill and he grew increasingly interested in alternative ways to combat his bad health. He became great champion of the wellness component of Haikou and embraced the ambitious plans of Peggy Liong, the group executive director for all three Mission Hills properties, to develop the volcanic springs into its own attraction. Tragically, the chairman passed away before the property was complete but his son has taken over and remains equally committed to offering world-class wellness facilities at the heart of the resort.

Stand-out spa design
Aside from the top notch golf facilities, Mission Hills Haikou has a 539-bed hotel on-site. Included in the guestrooms are 28 spa villas and one four-bedroom spa mansion complete with its own treatment room and spa butler service.

Next door to the hotel in its own building, is the 24,000sq m (258,334sq ft) Mission Hills Spa which aims to attract people of all demographics – as well as sports massages and pampering treatments for golf enthusiasts and their partners, there’s a menu for 10 to 15-year-olds. Spa facilities include a café, hair and nail salon, reading lounge, boutique, hydrotherapy zone, a mind-body exercise pavilion and a spa ritual garden. In the garden, you can take a lava springs journey, which is included in the cost of your treatment and get a taster of the mineral waters. The journey takes approximately 1.5 hours and includes sessions in a mineral mud amphitheatre, steam dome, a mist shower, aromatic scented tunnel and a mineral springs bath. The journey ends at the Elements Bar, where you can chill out with a selection of organic drinks.

One of the stand-out things about this spa is its design, which is a joint effort between EDSA and SB Architects, based in the USA. Its high ceiling is resplendent in hand-crafted bamboo and despite the three floors of winged corridors needed to house its 39 single and 22 double treatment rooms, the spa is cosy and welcoming – thanks mainly to Liong’s keen eye for vintage Chinese trinkets and homely furniture. Stylish, traditionally-painted lamps create snug nooks, yet big open doorways at the spa’s entrance let in fresh air – the spa is intimate without being intimidating. From a business perspective, Liong says this fresh outside-in design also means there’s no need for air conditioning in summer.

There are over 25 treatments at the spa Liong says some local Chinese elements such as a bamboo massage are deliberately included, “because the Chinese have generally lost touch with their spa culture.” She hopes to bring it back in a unique way, avoiding the temptation to copy menus by international brands: “It’s so easy to replicate here in China so this [local element] sets us apart.”

The volcanic mineral springs, which are themed around five continents of the world, are reached by taking a buggy to the far side of the property. Hotel guests can use the springs for free, whereas day visitors pay CNY198 (US$32, €23, £19) to enter one continent or CNY398 (US$64, €46, £38) to use all five. The 168 hot and cold pools and adjoining aquatic park feel more like a theme park than a wellness facility. But it’s not gimmicky.

Each part of the springs is designed around a different culture – Europe, Asia, Oceania, America and Africa – with associated therapeutic herbs, spices and colours used in the pools. In Asia, the spice-infused springs are surrounded by rockwork that’s themed to look like Cambodia’s Angkor Watt, while in Africa, The Great Sphinx of Giza creates an impressive entrance to a Turkish hammam. There are fun things for children too, such as a mineral play pool and wave machine in the European Roman bath house. Liong explains that doing things as a family is extremely important to Chinese people and many come after work to bathe as the springs are open from 1pm to 1am.

From the heart
The springs attract up to 20,000 visitors during the Chinese New Year holidays and running a busy facility has its challenges, not least because most Chinese people – who make up 80 per cent of business ­– aren’t familiar with public bathing and consider it normal to eat and let children urinate in the pools. “We’ve created theme park-inspired signage throughout to educate people on how to use the pools,” explains Liong. “We also have 120 service attendants at the springs to make sure they’re used properly and cleaned regularly.” Liong, who oversees the 300 staff at the spa and springs facility, says the chairman and his board expect nothing less than exceptional standards. “We’re very much a Chinese company, but we operate as an international brand with international standards.”

Currently, hotel occupancy is at 60 per cent and since 2010, revenue at the spa has increased by 100 per cent. Liong believes this is because people from China are becoming more educated about the benefits of wellness, as are people from Korea, Singapore and Australia who make up the majority of international visitors.

Another USP is that as Mission Hills Group is a family run business, decisions get made quickly and come from the heart. And it’s perfected the art of running a big operation as though it’s a boutique hotel. Liong recalls the day last year when they found out retired Chinese basketball player Yao Ming was coming to play a celebrity golf match. To accommodate his 7-foot, 6-inch frame, they modified a golf buggy, had longer clubs made and even installed a brand new lift tall enough to take him to his room with a custom-made extra long bed.

For her part, Liong is humble about her own achievements. However, her vision and passion shine through in everything she does, testament to the fact she’s been in charge of the group’s wellness for all three facilities since the start.

She also manages to combine a serious approach to offering a world-class wellness experience with a sense of family and fun at its heart. “The resort is designed to be enjoyed by the whole family,” she explains. “It doesn’t feel like a golf resort with things to do for the wife and family as an adjunct. We always say our competitor isn’t another golf and spa resort, it’s Disneyland and that’s what we are trying to create; a place where the whole family can embrace fun and wellness together.”


Mission Hills Haikou Facts & figures
* The hotel and spa are run in-house by Mission Hills.
* Aromatherapy Associates (UK), Algotherm (France), Aqua Spa and I plus Q (Thailand) are the product houses used at Mission Hills
* A ratio of 70:30 hotel to day guests use the spa and 65 per cent of all guests who stay in the hotel book a spa treatment
* By contrast, the mineral springs are 50:50 hotel to day guests, although at weekend locals make up 70 per cent of the visitors

New developments

In 2015, three new leisure developments covering 435 acres (176 hectares) will open next to Mission Hills Haikou. A low carbon footprint town is being built in collaboration with Marriott next to the existing site, while there will also be a leisure, shopping dining and cultural destination in partnership with entertainment brand Lan Kwai Fong.

Five minutes down the road, Mission Hills is creating a movie town with two of the biggest names in the Chinese film industry – director Feng Xiaogang and the Huayi Brothers Media Group. The project is set to include the world’s largest movie studios alongside cinema, dining and 24-hour shopping attractions.

There will be six hotels across the developments including a Ritz-Carlton, a Renaissance and China’s first Hard Rock Hotel. Liong says that although the Ritz-Carlton and Renaissance hotels will have small 1,000sq m spas, the increase in guests will feed into the Mission Hills spa and springs and will help it to grow its customer base.

 



Three more elements will open next year


Jennifer Harbottle is a leisure industry writer based in Asia
Email: [email protected]
harkcommuniciations.com.au
Tel: +86 1888 9846196

Peggy Liong, group executive director
There are 168 hot and cold mineral spring pools the springs are themed around five continents including America with is Amazonian Mayan architecture
Asia and with Cambodia’s Angkor Watt temple complex
There are 168 hot and cold mineral spring pools which feature natural volcanic waters
There are 168 hot and cold mineral spring pools which feature natural volcanic waters
Mission Hills Haikou covers 40sq km and its mineral springs attract up to 20,000 in Chinese New Year holiday alone
EDSA and SB Architects, both from the USA, are responsible for the impressive spa design
EDSA and SB Architects, both from the USA, are responsible for the impressive spa design
Hotel guests can use the volcanic mineral springs for free, while day visitors who mostly come at the weekend pay between US$32-US$64
Hotel guests can use the volcanic mineral springs for free, while day visitors who mostly come at the weekend pay between US$32-US$64
Chinese people, who make up 80 per cent of business, are very family orientated
Chinese people, who make up 80 per cent of business, are very family orientated
 


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SELECTED ISSUE
Spa Business
2014 issue 3

View issue contents

Leisure Management - Mission accomplished

Mineral Spa

Mission accomplished


Are golf and wellness the perfect partners? Jennifer Harbottle visits China’s Mission Hills Haikou, which has one of the world’s largest golf club facilities and biggest spa and mineral springs, to find out how the two are clubbing together

Jennifer Harbottle
Mission Hills Haikou, which has one of the world’s largest golf club facilities and biggest spa and mineral springs
Peggy Liong, group executive director
There are 168 hot and cold mineral spring pools the springs are themed around five continents including America with is Amazonian Mayan architecture
Asia and with Cambodia’s Angkor Watt temple complex
There are 168 hot and cold mineral spring pools which feature natural volcanic waters
There are 168 hot and cold mineral spring pools which feature natural volcanic waters
Mission Hills Haikou covers 40sq km and its mineral springs attract up to 20,000 in Chinese New Year holiday alone
EDSA and SB Architects, both from the USA, are responsible for the impressive spa design
EDSA and SB Architects, both from the USA, are responsible for the impressive spa design
Hotel guests can use the volcanic mineral springs for free, while day visitors who mostly come at the weekend pay between US$32-US$64
Hotel guests can use the volcanic mineral springs for free, while day visitors who mostly come at the weekend pay between US$32-US$64
Chinese people, who make up 80 per cent of business, are very family orientated
Chinese people, who make up 80 per cent of business, are very family orientated

Mission Hills Haikou in south China has 10 golf courses and is part of the largest golf club facility in the world. Tiger Woods competes there, it hosted the 2014 World Ladies Championship and stars like Matthew McConaughey and footballer Ronaldo stay to play in celebrity matches.

If golf’s not your thing, chances are you haven’t heard of it, yet Mission Hills Haikou also boasts one of the world’s largest spa and mineral springs. With 168 natural, mineral pools and a staggering 90 treatment rooms, including 29 in-villa spa treatment suites, the 88,000sq m (947,222sq ft) wellness component is quite astonishing. Despite the challenges of operating something so big, the spa team delivers a personable experience and also reports healthy profits. So how does it do it?

Teeing off
The Mission Hills Group is a family-owned hospitality business with three integrated leisure and wellness resorts in China. Each of its developments in Shenzen, Dongguan and Haikou share the same model; a five-star resort, a spa, a number of golf courses and high-end luxury housing.

Originally from Hong Kong, the Chu family that owns the Mission Hills Group made its money in the paper carton business, before investing in golf courses in Shenzen and Dongguan in 1992, which they developed into leisure destination resorts. In 2008, they bought cheap volcanic land in Haikou on the southern Chinese island of Hainan to create a resort. Two things happened next which turned Mission Hills Haikou from another golf leisure property, into a behemoth world-class wellness facility unlike anything else in China.

Firstly, surveyors discovered previously undetected volcanic mineral springs 800m below ground. The Beijing Health Lab tested the water and declared its high quality of minerals excellent for bathing. At this point, Mission Hills Group decided to make the volcanic springs a major feature of the resort.

At the same time, the chairman of the company became ill and he grew increasingly interested in alternative ways to combat his bad health. He became great champion of the wellness component of Haikou and embraced the ambitious plans of Peggy Liong, the group executive director for all three Mission Hills properties, to develop the volcanic springs into its own attraction. Tragically, the chairman passed away before the property was complete but his son has taken over and remains equally committed to offering world-class wellness facilities at the heart of the resort.

Stand-out spa design
Aside from the top notch golf facilities, Mission Hills Haikou has a 539-bed hotel on-site. Included in the guestrooms are 28 spa villas and one four-bedroom spa mansion complete with its own treatment room and spa butler service.

Next door to the hotel in its own building, is the 24,000sq m (258,334sq ft) Mission Hills Spa which aims to attract people of all demographics – as well as sports massages and pampering treatments for golf enthusiasts and their partners, there’s a menu for 10 to 15-year-olds. Spa facilities include a café, hair and nail salon, reading lounge, boutique, hydrotherapy zone, a mind-body exercise pavilion and a spa ritual garden. In the garden, you can take a lava springs journey, which is included in the cost of your treatment and get a taster of the mineral waters. The journey takes approximately 1.5 hours and includes sessions in a mineral mud amphitheatre, steam dome, a mist shower, aromatic scented tunnel and a mineral springs bath. The journey ends at the Elements Bar, where you can chill out with a selection of organic drinks.

One of the stand-out things about this spa is its design, which is a joint effort between EDSA and SB Architects, based in the USA. Its high ceiling is resplendent in hand-crafted bamboo and despite the three floors of winged corridors needed to house its 39 single and 22 double treatment rooms, the spa is cosy and welcoming – thanks mainly to Liong’s keen eye for vintage Chinese trinkets and homely furniture. Stylish, traditionally-painted lamps create snug nooks, yet big open doorways at the spa’s entrance let in fresh air – the spa is intimate without being intimidating. From a business perspective, Liong says this fresh outside-in design also means there’s no need for air conditioning in summer.

There are over 25 treatments at the spa Liong says some local Chinese elements such as a bamboo massage are deliberately included, “because the Chinese have generally lost touch with their spa culture.” She hopes to bring it back in a unique way, avoiding the temptation to copy menus by international brands: “It’s so easy to replicate here in China so this [local element] sets us apart.”

The volcanic mineral springs, which are themed around five continents of the world, are reached by taking a buggy to the far side of the property. Hotel guests can use the springs for free, whereas day visitors pay CNY198 (US$32, €23, £19) to enter one continent or CNY398 (US$64, €46, £38) to use all five. The 168 hot and cold pools and adjoining aquatic park feel more like a theme park than a wellness facility. But it’s not gimmicky.

Each part of the springs is designed around a different culture – Europe, Asia, Oceania, America and Africa – with associated therapeutic herbs, spices and colours used in the pools. In Asia, the spice-infused springs are surrounded by rockwork that’s themed to look like Cambodia’s Angkor Watt, while in Africa, The Great Sphinx of Giza creates an impressive entrance to a Turkish hammam. There are fun things for children too, such as a mineral play pool and wave machine in the European Roman bath house. Liong explains that doing things as a family is extremely important to Chinese people and many come after work to bathe as the springs are open from 1pm to 1am.

From the heart
The springs attract up to 20,000 visitors during the Chinese New Year holidays and running a busy facility has its challenges, not least because most Chinese people – who make up 80 per cent of business ­– aren’t familiar with public bathing and consider it normal to eat and let children urinate in the pools. “We’ve created theme park-inspired signage throughout to educate people on how to use the pools,” explains Liong. “We also have 120 service attendants at the springs to make sure they’re used properly and cleaned regularly.” Liong, who oversees the 300 staff at the spa and springs facility, says the chairman and his board expect nothing less than exceptional standards. “We’re very much a Chinese company, but we operate as an international brand with international standards.”

Currently, hotel occupancy is at 60 per cent and since 2010, revenue at the spa has increased by 100 per cent. Liong believes this is because people from China are becoming more educated about the benefits of wellness, as are people from Korea, Singapore and Australia who make up the majority of international visitors.

Another USP is that as Mission Hills Group is a family run business, decisions get made quickly and come from the heart. And it’s perfected the art of running a big operation as though it’s a boutique hotel. Liong recalls the day last year when they found out retired Chinese basketball player Yao Ming was coming to play a celebrity golf match. To accommodate his 7-foot, 6-inch frame, they modified a golf buggy, had longer clubs made and even installed a brand new lift tall enough to take him to his room with a custom-made extra long bed.

For her part, Liong is humble about her own achievements. However, her vision and passion shine through in everything she does, testament to the fact she’s been in charge of the group’s wellness for all three facilities since the start.

She also manages to combine a serious approach to offering a world-class wellness experience with a sense of family and fun at its heart. “The resort is designed to be enjoyed by the whole family,” she explains. “It doesn’t feel like a golf resort with things to do for the wife and family as an adjunct. We always say our competitor isn’t another golf and spa resort, it’s Disneyland and that’s what we are trying to create; a place where the whole family can embrace fun and wellness together.”


Mission Hills Haikou Facts & figures
* The hotel and spa are run in-house by Mission Hills.
* Aromatherapy Associates (UK), Algotherm (France), Aqua Spa and I plus Q (Thailand) are the product houses used at Mission Hills
* A ratio of 70:30 hotel to day guests use the spa and 65 per cent of all guests who stay in the hotel book a spa treatment
* By contrast, the mineral springs are 50:50 hotel to day guests, although at weekend locals make up 70 per cent of the visitors

New developments

In 2015, three new leisure developments covering 435 acres (176 hectares) will open next to Mission Hills Haikou. A low carbon footprint town is being built in collaboration with Marriott next to the existing site, while there will also be a leisure, shopping dining and cultural destination in partnership with entertainment brand Lan Kwai Fong.

Five minutes down the road, Mission Hills is creating a movie town with two of the biggest names in the Chinese film industry – director Feng Xiaogang and the Huayi Brothers Media Group. The project is set to include the world’s largest movie studios alongside cinema, dining and 24-hour shopping attractions.

There will be six hotels across the developments including a Ritz-Carlton, a Renaissance and China’s first Hard Rock Hotel. Liong says that although the Ritz-Carlton and Renaissance hotels will have small 1,000sq m spas, the increase in guests will feed into the Mission Hills spa and springs and will help it to grow its customer base.

 



Three more elements will open next year


Jennifer Harbottle is a leisure industry writer based in Asia
Email: [email protected]
harkcommuniciations.com.au
Tel: +86 1888 9846196


Originally published in Spa Business 2014 issue 3

Published by Leisure Media Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385 | Contact us | About us | © Cybertrek Ltd