How important have Spas become for a luxury hotel, nowadays?
They are incredibly important and core to the luxury resort experience. Most guests are concerned with a healthy, balanced lifestyle – to make it a part of their daily routine back home. They desire these services during their stay to continue with the regime, enabling them to focus on full mind and body health, while also relaxing.
Your Wellness Concierge is the first of its kind here in the Maldives setting exemplary of the brand’s renowned hospitality and its legacy of True Waldorf Service. Please tell us how you help your guests discover the equilibrium in mind, body and soul.
Our Wellness Concierge will conduct a personalised consultation to gather information about our guests’ daily lifestyle practices. She will then recommend the best treatments or wellness programme to address whatever issues the guest wants to address while staying in the resort. The first step of this process is determining the guest’s physical element from the four natural elements of earth, water, fire and metal. Based on their needs, detox versus relaxation, for example, we would recommend the best suitable programme for the guest to achieve their lifestyle goals.
What is your role as Spa Director of Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi, and what are the key attributes of successful Spa Directors?
They are compassionate, creative and passionate – you can feel that the moment you walk into our spa. At Waldorf, my ultimate goal is to be able to influence and provide positive lifestyle transformations for our guests, and hopefully it will be a life experience that they cannot get anywhere else. Our aim is to also educate them. We want you to feel balanced and rejuvenated before you go back home, and by giving you a simple programme that you can follow and embrace, we want you to be able to feel this balance when you are home, which, in most cases, is a city. I work with many third parties, such as our visiting practitioner programmes. I speak with my team when doing our ‘Creative Services’ menus, and we collaborate on what we think our guests need with the changing trends. We also work very closely with the marketing department in terms of communicating with the public via social media or other media, like magazines such as yourself, on the uniqueness of our Wellness Centre and Spa here at Waldorf.
Another very important aspect of being a successful Spa Director is motivating your team, and helping them grow by nurturing their talents. Here, at Waldorf Astoria Maldives, I call my team the “A-Team”, with the aim of being the best of the best, and we try to create complete professionals in the field. This will ensure that all guests have an unforgettable experience through the services we provide. Details as simple as, let's say the tea that we serve every day, or our connection with the surrounding nature, are all crucial elements. If you want to provide a wholesome and rejuvenating spa experience, it is a lot of hard work and every team member has an important role to play. That's what we need to aim for.
How important is it for your spas to provide guests with a sense of place by introducing local products, treatments or even décor elements?
We incorporate local products such as coconut oil in all our treatments like scalp massages. Our Coconut Oil is also available in our Spa Retail and is one of the most popular items that guest take away as home-care. Coconut oil, as most of us know, is so good for our hair, skin, and even for sunburn. I have guests that buy our organic coconut oil so that they can mix it into their coffee, tea, or their beverage of choice. Consuming some coconut oil daily is greatly beneficial for your digestion. We also have spa treatments where your view is the Indian Ocean, as well as many other décor elements in our spa and throughout the resort that definitely give our guests a sense of place.
What is your personal favourite treatment at your spa?
I love our ‘Empower with Earth Journey’ – it is the ultimate indulgent experience, a top to toe ritual which will leave you feeling truly rejuvenated. It involves a foot cleanse ritual, Himalayan salt body polish, a Himalayan salt stone massage, hand and foot rejuvenation, and an express scalp mask by Philip Kingsley. This treatment will rejuvenate, regenerate and renew body and mind.
Then we have the Starlight Ocean Massage – an unforgettable experience under the Maldivian stars, set in our romantic and exclusive Spa Pavilion, with the spa closed just for you. The slow rhythmic wave techniques of the massage are inspired by the waves of the India Ocean. You will also receive a collagen eye mask packed with hydrating ingredients. Just let your mind unwind and the healing power of mother earth’s elements rebalance your body in our candlelit spa sanctuary garden under the stars, overlooking the ocean. This treatment promotes relaxation and wellbeing on a physical, mental and emotional level, and is available only from 9pm to 10.30pm.
A Body Therapy range by LPG offers treatments that target specific areas or concerns. Could you tell us more about these unexpected amenities and therapies that take your guests by surprise?
LPG is a non-invasive treatment that helps combat targeted body concerns, and it depends on that your target or goal is. Most guest are surprised after just one session of the treatment, when an inch is reduced from their waist. This session is very relaxing and results-driven. It is ideal for guest that are looking for weight loss, skin toning, reducing water retention and detoxifying. LPG can also stimulate circulatory exchange to relieve head tension and reduce migraine pain. I personally believe that it’s a fabulous and truly innovative invention.
What skin conditions or other wellbeing issues are treated more than any other at your spa and has this always been the same or do you detect worrying trends?
Most of the guests here have dehydrated skin problems and desire increased emotional balance. Thus, our vast selection of menu offerings will enable us to help guests rebalance and discover themselves when they come to our recommended wellness programme.
For dehydrated skin, we have a couple of very effective hydro-boosting facials. We do a Caviar & Algea Facial, brilliant for rehydrating your skin. It’s a wonderfully luxurious, intensive facial that deeply hydrates, rejuvenates and detoxifies. We also do a Collagen Facial, one of our most popular facials, where you see and feel immediate results. This treatment calms the skin, softens lines and lifts facial contours with a powerful blend of myofascial massage techniques. The mask is infused with one of the following ingredients; Hyaluronic acid, which replenishes moisture for lasting hydration and improves elasticity; or Vitamin C, which targets signs of photoaging and combats the effects of environmental damage such as pollution and dust.
As for providing our guests with a wholesome emotional balance, our expert visiting practitioners provide the very crucial help guests need. We believe that the mind is an area that require very professional and careful treatment. Therefore, we work with numerous healers from different fields of expertise every year; meditation gurus, healing masters, crystal healers, reiki healers and so much more. Mental hygiene is a massively important aspect of our daily life.
With regards to Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi’s visiting practitioner programmes that you’ve mentioned, have you had bookings specifically because a particular practitioner is going to be on the property?
Yes, we do have guests travelling to the resort during the specific periods that particular practitioners visit the property. They’re very popular – most of the time they are full and receive amazing feedback. Many of our guests have spoken about how it has helped them find solutions, and deal with internal, personal and emotional issues that they have not been able to express fully. It’s been very responsive.
Interest in ‘holistic’ wellness and ‘natural living’ now spans an endless range of treatments including, organic cosmetics, healthy-eating, veganism, body and mind exercise, yoga and spiritual ‘cleansing’ and reenergising, etc. There is also much information out there. What do you believe is one of the most important actions an individual can do on a regular basis, such as a spa treatment, to improve their sense of wellbeing?
Honestly, the most important part of it all, is actually the mindset of the individual towards a sense of wellbeing. If they believe in holistic wellness, they will benefit with all the practices. Even when it comes to yoga, you have to believe in it for it to truly make a positive change. Whether you believe in something or not is a very personal thing. Our inhouse yoga teacher works wonders and we host regular yoga sessions. Also, during the peak seasons, we invite professional yoga instructors who practice different variations of yoga such as aerial yoga. They come in and really enhance the yoga offerings that we provide at the property. You see, all our guests have different yoga levels, which makes sense, so we try to provide more options. But, like I said, positive thinking is important, and not just during treatments, but in all aspects of life.
Are there any exciting new research developments in spa therapies, skin care or massage treatments that you believe could really take off in the years ahead?
There are many new developments taking place towards the future. Spa therapists now need to be even more knowledgeable in terms of skills and in anticipating guests’ needs and preferences. For example, a combination of spa and wellness experiences in one service could balance the body and mind. We have noticed that skincare and new products continue to grow every year. To meet our guests' needs, we are going to curate antiaging sessions and programmes, as well as the use of sustainable products in our treatments, such as our sustainably produced, organic coconut oil. At the spa, we don’t use plastic at all, our bottles are recycled glass bottles, and we avoid high consumption unsustainable products. I am currently working on a project to completely eliminate the use of paper in the spa as well. Also, the products we use are completely ocean-friendly. These little changes can go a long way.
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