Interview - Lilian Roten
Lilian Roten

Jane Kitchen talks to Lilian Roten, the brains behind the brands for Swissôtel’s in-house Pürovel spas and its boundary breaking Vitality wellness programme

By Jane Kitchen | Published in Spa Business 2015 issue 4


Swissôtel launched its in-house Pürovel spa concept in 2011 and now features the branded spas in 12 of its 32 hotels, with 12 more in the pipeline.

The company has also been integrating touches of wellbeing into every aspect of a hotel stay as part of its Vitality programme since 2012 – making it one of the first wellness hotel groups.

With a nod to the company’s Swiss roots and Alpine heritage (Swissair and Nestlé were the original owners of the group) Pürovel spas are designed to remind guests of the invigorating Swiss Alps.

Lilian Roten is vice president of the Swissôtel brand. Born in the mountains of Switzerland, she’s been with the company more than 20 years, focusing first on operations and more recently, on brand strategy. Roten works closely with Andrew Gibson, vice president of spa and wellness for Swissôtel’s parent brand, FRHI Hotels & Resorts, to ensure all spas stay on-message and convey that sense of alpine vitality.

Roten tells Spa Business how the Pürovel concept was developed, where it’s heading and how it fits with Swissôtel’s push for wellbeing through its Vitality programme.

Why did Swissôtel develop a spa concept?
We really wanted to make sure we had something that we could hang our hat on – otherwise, we’re just selling a massage, and everybody else sells a massage. We didn’t want to bring in a consultant who just said, ‘this is a concept – see how it fits’. We looked at what we’re really good at and the essence of the brand. And if you’re born in Switzerland – I mean the brand, and myself as well – you deal with nature all the time. The inspiration was really about the four seasons and the rejuvenation that happens between spring, summer, fall and winter. The name actually means “a gently floating mountain stream” in Rumantsch – the language spoken in the mountains.

What makes Pürovel a Swiss brand?
In my eyes it starts with physical aspect, and then treatments need to be in place as well. Pürovel is Alpine-inspired in its look and feel, but we also incorporate unique elements from each country – in Turkey, you will have a hammam, in Thailand, you will have Thai massage, in Sri Lanka, you might have ayurveda.

For the design we draw inspiration from the mountains and valleys of Switzerland, using soothing shades like greens and adding a touch of colour, like flowers in a forest. There’s an element of freshness and vigour. At the entrance to our spas, we have images of the landscape that reflect the seasons in Switzerland. So when we open in Dubai in a few years, it will be hot, but in the Pürovel Spa you’ll first see a beautiful winter landscape as if it’s December in Switzerland. The uniforms are also more of a sporty outdoors uniform, rather than an Asian-inspired look.

In terms of materials, we use honest materials – if it looks like wood it is wood. Authentic materials are essential to the atmosphere and we want things that are timeless and beautiful to look at, but that also inspire people to touch. We don’t just like surfaces that are all shiny or polished, we also like rough edges.

So honest materials you can touch are important – what else?
We also have sounds from the woods and mountains like a bird’s song or a mountain stream or the wind rustling through a spruce. It’s also about scent and using materials that have a natural scent. In Dresden, we have four treatment rooms and each of them is built with a different wood, so they each have a different smell as well. And if you can combine that fragrance with the material or the actual physical aspect, that’s perfect.

How did you develop the Pürovel product range?
We found Suissessences, a toiletries line made by nine Swiss farmers and Brigitte Schulthess, who’s an aromatherapy and skincare consultant. Together they created two scents for us – summer and winter – which use lavender, lemon balm, clary sage, yarrow and the needles of the spruce, silver and Douglas fir. The oils are blended with rapeseed oil that’s also grown locally – it’s a great oil with great benefits.

What’s the difference between the two spa models?
If you’re in an urban environment, the fitness component is more important because our customer base is very much business-driven during the week, so we have a Pürovel Sport – but it still has a spa component. At Pürovel Spa & Sport, we have things like steam showers, hammams and different treatment offerings – but there’s still a sport component. Both concepts offer revitalising massages.

What role does spa play in Swissôtel’s Vitality programme?
The essence of Pürovel is about revitalisation and vitality. If you have a massage it really is about giving energy back to your body and our rituals are designed take our guests through a revitalising journey.
For business hotels, we have Vitality Moments where we offer 20- or 30-minute massages, because corporate clients don’t always have time for a one-hour massage.

And how does Vitality translate to other hotel departments?
We introduced Vitality in our cuisine, which is not about dieting, but about healthier options. For conferences, we introduced Vitality Breaks, which pay attention to food’s nutritional value and what the body needs at different times of the day to keep up energy.

We also introduced a Vitality fitness component: we deliver fitness gear from the Pürovel Sport facilities to guests’ rooms, we have jogging maps at our hotels and many of the GMs offer morning jogging tours. This year we launched destination maps, so it’s about walking in the surroundings and getting fresh air and exercise and at the same time, experiencing some culture.

How do you measure the success of Pürovel?
Profitability on the one hand, on the other, engaged colleagues and low staff turnover.

We know that within our portfolio of Pürovel-branded and non-branded spa facilities, we have a higher average spend in Pürovel, more loyal guests and higher satisfaction scores too.

We also notice a lower turnover among team members, especially when it comes to managerial positions. We see that our Pürovel spa managers stay with our brand for up to five years; this is quite unusual in our industry, where there’s an executive rotation usually every two to three years. If our colleagues are engaged with the brand, they’re attached to it and it becomes more than just a service. Happy colleagues stay longer and have a more personal interaction with our guests.

We also look at what it adds to Swissôtel in general. From a business perspective, we know that affluent travellers typically consider fewer than four hotels when deciding where to stay. With this in mind, having a strong, differentiated spa product is a driver of hotel occupancy for us.

What obstacles have you encountered?
The biggest challenge is to stick to your beliefs. There are certain features that you must have for the brand experience. We also don’t want to forget the essence behind Vitality. We want to make sure that it doesn’t just become a marketing slogan, but that people know why they’re doing what they’re doing and how important rituals are. Andrew Gibson and Lindsay Madden-Nadeau (FRHI’s director of spa integration and operations) and I meet regularly, so we’re all aligned about what the brand really is. It’s really now Andrew’s team who executes all the strategy that was developed for the brand.

What are your future plans for Pürovel?
We still need to grow. Although we’ve been selective with locations, most Pürovel spas so far have been renovations. To really have a 100 per cent Pürovel spa – the picture-perfect Pürovel – we need a new build, but that takes time. The Pürovel in Chengdu, China, will be beautiful, because it’s a brand new property and it’s going to be a flagship five-star, as will the Dubai location (see future openings above).

Overall, the more Pürovels you have, the more spas colleagues become engaged. It’s just as exciting for them to see the brand grow as it is for me.

Pürovel spas

Current portfolio
Pürovel spas operate in Swissôtel properties in:
• Basel, Switzerland (Sport)
• Bremen, Germany (Sport)
• Dresden, Germany (Spa & Sport)
• Tallinn, Estonia (Spa & Sport)
• Moscow, Russia (Spa & Sport)
• The Bosphorus, Istanbul, Turkey (Spa & Sport)
• Izmir, Turkey (Spa & Sport)
• Ankara, Turkey (Spa & Sport)
• Resort Bodrum Beach, Turkey (Spa & Sport)
• Osaka, Japan (Spa & Sport)
• Merchant Court, Singapore (Spa & Sport)
• Kolkata, India (Sport)

Future openings
Swissôtel will launch 12 Pürovel spas in the following sites over the next four years:
• Citystars Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt (2016)
• Bodrum Hill, Turkey (2017)
• Changsha, China (2017)
• Chengdu, China (2017)
• Bali, Indonesia (2018)
• Al Jadaf Dubai, UAE (2018)
• Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (2018)
• Sofia, Bulgaria (2018)
• KozaPark Istanbul, Turkey (2018)
• Dhaka, Bangladesh (2018)
• Katameyah Cairo, Egypt (2018)
• Hangzhou, China (2019)

 



Most hotel spas are in Europe, but new ones are planned in Asia and the Middle East


Jane Kitchen is the news editor of Spa Business and Spa Opportunities

Tel: +44 1462 471929
Email: [email protected]

Swissôtel’s in-house Pürovel spas
The Pürovel concept launched in 2011 and the spa brand is now in 12 out of 32 Swissôtel properties
In the Dresden spa
In the Dresden spa, the treatment rooms are built with different wood so each has a distinct, natural scent
In the Dresden spa, the treatment rooms are built with different wood so each has a distinct, natural scent
The branded products have been made by nine local farmers who are also behind toiletries line Suissessences
The branded products have been made by nine local farmers who are also behind toiletries line Suissessences
The branded products have been made by nine local farmers who are also behind toiletries line Suissessences
Vitality programme: healthy cuisine helps guests keep up their energy
The Pürovel Sport model for urban hotels has more of a fitness component
Wellness facilities are more prominent in the Pürovel Spa & Sport resort concept
 


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SELECTED ISSUE
Spa Business
2015 issue 4

View issue contents

Leisure Management - Lilian Roten

Interview - Lilian Roten

Lilian Roten


Jane Kitchen talks to Lilian Roten, the brains behind the brands for Swissôtel’s in-house Pürovel spas and its boundary breaking Vitality wellness programme

Jane Kitchen, Spa Business
Roten, born in the Swiss mountains, has been with the hotel group for 20 years
Swissôtel’s in-house Pürovel spas
The Pürovel concept launched in 2011 and the spa brand is now in 12 out of 32 Swissôtel properties
In the Dresden spa
In the Dresden spa, the treatment rooms are built with different wood so each has a distinct, natural scent
In the Dresden spa, the treatment rooms are built with different wood so each has a distinct, natural scent
The branded products have been made by nine local farmers who are also behind toiletries line Suissessences
The branded products have been made by nine local farmers who are also behind toiletries line Suissessences
The branded products have been made by nine local farmers who are also behind toiletries line Suissessences
Vitality programme: healthy cuisine helps guests keep up their energy
The Pürovel Sport model for urban hotels has more of a fitness component
Wellness facilities are more prominent in the Pürovel Spa & Sport resort concept

Swissôtel launched its in-house Pürovel spa concept in 2011 and now features the branded spas in 12 of its 32 hotels, with 12 more in the pipeline.

The company has also been integrating touches of wellbeing into every aspect of a hotel stay as part of its Vitality programme since 2012 – making it one of the first wellness hotel groups.

With a nod to the company’s Swiss roots and Alpine heritage (Swissair and Nestlé were the original owners of the group) Pürovel spas are designed to remind guests of the invigorating Swiss Alps.

Lilian Roten is vice president of the Swissôtel brand. Born in the mountains of Switzerland, she’s been with the company more than 20 years, focusing first on operations and more recently, on brand strategy. Roten works closely with Andrew Gibson, vice president of spa and wellness for Swissôtel’s parent brand, FRHI Hotels & Resorts, to ensure all spas stay on-message and convey that sense of alpine vitality.

Roten tells Spa Business how the Pürovel concept was developed, where it’s heading and how it fits with Swissôtel’s push for wellbeing through its Vitality programme.

Why did Swissôtel develop a spa concept?
We really wanted to make sure we had something that we could hang our hat on – otherwise, we’re just selling a massage, and everybody else sells a massage. We didn’t want to bring in a consultant who just said, ‘this is a concept – see how it fits’. We looked at what we’re really good at and the essence of the brand. And if you’re born in Switzerland – I mean the brand, and myself as well – you deal with nature all the time. The inspiration was really about the four seasons and the rejuvenation that happens between spring, summer, fall and winter. The name actually means “a gently floating mountain stream” in Rumantsch – the language spoken in the mountains.

What makes Pürovel a Swiss brand?
In my eyes it starts with physical aspect, and then treatments need to be in place as well. Pürovel is Alpine-inspired in its look and feel, but we also incorporate unique elements from each country – in Turkey, you will have a hammam, in Thailand, you will have Thai massage, in Sri Lanka, you might have ayurveda.

For the design we draw inspiration from the mountains and valleys of Switzerland, using soothing shades like greens and adding a touch of colour, like flowers in a forest. There’s an element of freshness and vigour. At the entrance to our spas, we have images of the landscape that reflect the seasons in Switzerland. So when we open in Dubai in a few years, it will be hot, but in the Pürovel Spa you’ll first see a beautiful winter landscape as if it’s December in Switzerland. The uniforms are also more of a sporty outdoors uniform, rather than an Asian-inspired look.

In terms of materials, we use honest materials – if it looks like wood it is wood. Authentic materials are essential to the atmosphere and we want things that are timeless and beautiful to look at, but that also inspire people to touch. We don’t just like surfaces that are all shiny or polished, we also like rough edges.

So honest materials you can touch are important – what else?
We also have sounds from the woods and mountains like a bird’s song or a mountain stream or the wind rustling through a spruce. It’s also about scent and using materials that have a natural scent. In Dresden, we have four treatment rooms and each of them is built with a different wood, so they each have a different smell as well. And if you can combine that fragrance with the material or the actual physical aspect, that’s perfect.

How did you develop the Pürovel product range?
We found Suissessences, a toiletries line made by nine Swiss farmers and Brigitte Schulthess, who’s an aromatherapy and skincare consultant. Together they created two scents for us – summer and winter – which use lavender, lemon balm, clary sage, yarrow and the needles of the spruce, silver and Douglas fir. The oils are blended with rapeseed oil that’s also grown locally – it’s a great oil with great benefits.

What’s the difference between the two spa models?
If you’re in an urban environment, the fitness component is more important because our customer base is very much business-driven during the week, so we have a Pürovel Sport – but it still has a spa component. At Pürovel Spa & Sport, we have things like steam showers, hammams and different treatment offerings – but there’s still a sport component. Both concepts offer revitalising massages.

What role does spa play in Swissôtel’s Vitality programme?
The essence of Pürovel is about revitalisation and vitality. If you have a massage it really is about giving energy back to your body and our rituals are designed take our guests through a revitalising journey.
For business hotels, we have Vitality Moments where we offer 20- or 30-minute massages, because corporate clients don’t always have time for a one-hour massage.

And how does Vitality translate to other hotel departments?
We introduced Vitality in our cuisine, which is not about dieting, but about healthier options. For conferences, we introduced Vitality Breaks, which pay attention to food’s nutritional value and what the body needs at different times of the day to keep up energy.

We also introduced a Vitality fitness component: we deliver fitness gear from the Pürovel Sport facilities to guests’ rooms, we have jogging maps at our hotels and many of the GMs offer morning jogging tours. This year we launched destination maps, so it’s about walking in the surroundings and getting fresh air and exercise and at the same time, experiencing some culture.

How do you measure the success of Pürovel?
Profitability on the one hand, on the other, engaged colleagues and low staff turnover.

We know that within our portfolio of Pürovel-branded and non-branded spa facilities, we have a higher average spend in Pürovel, more loyal guests and higher satisfaction scores too.

We also notice a lower turnover among team members, especially when it comes to managerial positions. We see that our Pürovel spa managers stay with our brand for up to five years; this is quite unusual in our industry, where there’s an executive rotation usually every two to three years. If our colleagues are engaged with the brand, they’re attached to it and it becomes more than just a service. Happy colleagues stay longer and have a more personal interaction with our guests.

We also look at what it adds to Swissôtel in general. From a business perspective, we know that affluent travellers typically consider fewer than four hotels when deciding where to stay. With this in mind, having a strong, differentiated spa product is a driver of hotel occupancy for us.

What obstacles have you encountered?
The biggest challenge is to stick to your beliefs. There are certain features that you must have for the brand experience. We also don’t want to forget the essence behind Vitality. We want to make sure that it doesn’t just become a marketing slogan, but that people know why they’re doing what they’re doing and how important rituals are. Andrew Gibson and Lindsay Madden-Nadeau (FRHI’s director of spa integration and operations) and I meet regularly, so we’re all aligned about what the brand really is. It’s really now Andrew’s team who executes all the strategy that was developed for the brand.

What are your future plans for Pürovel?
We still need to grow. Although we’ve been selective with locations, most Pürovel spas so far have been renovations. To really have a 100 per cent Pürovel spa – the picture-perfect Pürovel – we need a new build, but that takes time. The Pürovel in Chengdu, China, will be beautiful, because it’s a brand new property and it’s going to be a flagship five-star, as will the Dubai location (see future openings above).

Overall, the more Pürovels you have, the more spas colleagues become engaged. It’s just as exciting for them to see the brand grow as it is for me.

Pürovel spas

Current portfolio
Pürovel spas operate in Swissôtel properties in:
• Basel, Switzerland (Sport)
• Bremen, Germany (Sport)
• Dresden, Germany (Spa & Sport)
• Tallinn, Estonia (Spa & Sport)
• Moscow, Russia (Spa & Sport)
• The Bosphorus, Istanbul, Turkey (Spa & Sport)
• Izmir, Turkey (Spa & Sport)
• Ankara, Turkey (Spa & Sport)
• Resort Bodrum Beach, Turkey (Spa & Sport)
• Osaka, Japan (Spa & Sport)
• Merchant Court, Singapore (Spa & Sport)
• Kolkata, India (Sport)

Future openings
Swissôtel will launch 12 Pürovel spas in the following sites over the next four years:
• Citystars Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt (2016)
• Bodrum Hill, Turkey (2017)
• Changsha, China (2017)
• Chengdu, China (2017)
• Bali, Indonesia (2018)
• Al Jadaf Dubai, UAE (2018)
• Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (2018)
• Sofia, Bulgaria (2018)
• KozaPark Istanbul, Turkey (2018)
• Dhaka, Bangladesh (2018)
• Katameyah Cairo, Egypt (2018)
• Hangzhou, China (2019)

 



Most hotel spas are in Europe, but new ones are planned in Asia and the Middle East


Jane Kitchen is the news editor of Spa Business and Spa Opportunities

Tel: +44 1462 471929
Email: [email protected]


Originally published in Spa Business 2015 issue 4

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