Wellness in Hospitality – Interview with Ana Beatriz by Sonal Uberoi
“We contribute to the change of the mind[set], and to leave, of course, a legacy to the new generation, based on balance honesty and respect.”
Ana Beatriz – AB&C Hospitality – Luxury Wellness & Healing Founder
We have spoken at great length about the economic and social impact of the pandemic, but we haven’t really taken the time to address the emotional toll that this crisis has had on us. Everybody is feeling the hit emotionally, from investors and owners right down to the staff. At a time like this, we must pause for a moment and take care of ourselves before we can tackle the challenges ahead. This is especially important for leaders because as humans we absorb the energy exuded by the people around us, and if the leader is fearful and fatigued then the team will also experience those same emotions.
In my interview with Ana Beatriz, we spoke about this emotional toll and how to better address it through wholesome wellness offerings for everyone, from stakeholders to employees. Ana is a pioneer in wellness hospitality and has a long and proven track record of building successful and unique hospitality concepts. She is firmly committed to raising the bar in luxury and wellness in hospitality in Portugal. Armed with a deep knowledge of the important role of wellness in hospitality, Ana makes a compelling argument for why hoteliers must invest in wellness going forward.
The uncertainty caused by the pandemic has sparked widespread fear among hoteliers. This undoubtedly takes a huge emotional toll on people, from the owners right down to the guests. Hoteliers have been backed into a corner where they can only react to the situation rather than attack it from a place of sure footing. As a result, the decisions that are being made right now are based on fear, and unfortunately, this will impact the industry negatively down the road. Hotel owners and managers must remember that decisions made in the short-term have long-lasting effects that will be felt even after the pandemic blows over. Thus, when fear seems to be the only driving force behind a particular decision, rather stop and take some time for introspection. The best course of action – one that will be positive in the long-term – will present itself when the fear is put under control.
2. Holistic wellness
Wellness has been delivered in fragments within the hospitality industry. Instead of focusing on true, holistic wellness, hotels concentrate on the spa facilities alone. This approach is almost doomed to fail as it doesn’t cater to the whole wellbeing of the person. In addition, wellness concepts within hotels are only ever targeted towards the guests, forgetting the staff and management that have to interact with those guests. Because humans are intuitive and can pick up non-verbal cues, it is certain that when the staff is not taken care of properly, the guest experience is affected negatively. For the industry to thrive going forward, wellness has to be at the heart of hospitality. This is being proven in Portugal where hotels that were wellness-oriented before 2020 are doing well in the pandemic. Spas alone don’t make up wellness, so hoteliers must reorient their offerings to cater to the full wellness needs of both their guests and their staff.
3. Investment and returns
Big hotels that relied on meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) are definitely feeling the hardest pinch right now. Not only has business travel diminished, but studies show that the market currently prefers smaller hotels that have distinct personalities. In order to keep their doors open now and in the future, these hotels need to invest in holistic wellness that does not rely on the spa facilities alone. In fact, there is arguably no need to put in a spa at all when curating a wellness offering in the areas that these big business hotels are found. By combining wellness with the rest of their hotel offerings, they can become wellness escapes for people in urban areas who can’t travel to exotic destinations. This can be achieved through partnerships with reputable wellness brands in the area. A good partnership will reduce the hotel’s costs, thereby increasing revenue margins.
Entering into a partnership may seem counterproductive in a time where increasing revenue is the only goal. However, the returns will be evident once hoteliers understand how wellness works in its full capacity. These times call for a hard shift in perspective and a refreshed mindset that is open to learning and innovating. Where things seem to be spiralling out of control, it is only right to stop and take stock of the situation before making any rash decisions based on fear. Doing this will not only help us to rebuild the industry but to also leave a lasting legacy for future generations.
My heartfelt gratitude goes out to Ana for taking the time to share priceless insights in this interview.
Thank you to everyone who has been following this series and engaging in the constructive discussions in the comments section. If you are a hotel general manager, hotel owner or investor and you are interested in being part of my Wellness in Hospitality interview series, direct message me here on LinkedIn. Please note responses may take a couple of days due to increased interest in putting wellness at the core of hospitality.
@Sonal Uberoi Interview with Ana Beatriz about Wellness in Hospitality.
Founder Spa Balance Consulting | Board Director SWAA