AccorHotels’ appointment of spa and wellness visionary Andrew Gibson to the position of “vice-president of well-being, luxury brands” signals a new era for the pairing of wellness and luxury. It also underscores the growing importance of “wellness” in the luxury market—where the widespread introduction of wellness amenities, services and activities may, in fact, be redefining luxury.
Gibson, most recently vice president of spa and wellness for FRHI Hotels & Resorts, brings more than 30 years of international experience to the role. He will be responsible for driving the development and execution of the overall wellness strategies for AccorHotels’ Luxury Brands, including areas of design and concepts, and the implementation of wellness standards globally. The appointment, he says, “indicates a shift in the parameter of services that Accor luxury brands will provide.”
Accor’s newly-created luxury division—including the Raffles, Fairmont, Sofitel, MGallery, Pullman and Swissôtel brands— incorporates more than 450 hotels in over 72 counties. One of the world’s largest hotel and lifestyle companies, the AccorHotels Group encompasses 4,000 hotels, resorts and residences, across all segments (luxury, midscale and economy), plus 2,500 private homes around the globe.
Recent and future wellness initiatives
In the context of the new wellness initiative, Gibson defines the term “well-being” as “the state we all want to be in,” and “wellness” as “the services and journeys people can take to get to the state of well-being.” So wellness includes spa as well as healthy food options, nutritional advice, innovative and social fitness services, circadian lighting, clean air, and spaces expressly designed and designated for relaxation.
The new VP hopes to create throughout all of Accor’s luxury brands something he calls “imperceptible wellness—the concept of leaving a hotel feeling better than when you arrived, without consciously being aware of why this is.”
Recent initiatives that help clarify the direction of the new AccorHotels’ wellness strategy include:
The Vitality Room recently launched at Swissotel Zurich. A holistic-based environment built on the cornerstones of sleep, work and wellness, and designed around the brand’s chain-wide Vitality Program. The prototype room, currently in test mode, is expected to be incorporated into other Swissotel properties over the next few years.
Pullman Dubai City Center will launch a full wellness program at the end of March and plans to roll it out to other Pullman hotels in Sao Paulo, Paris, London, Marrakech, Phuket and Aukland, among others.
Fairmont The Palm in Dubai has installed an interactive kitchen with a focus on healthy eating and “superfoods,” introduced a variety of exercise options, and partnered with outside wellness professionals to offer stress-reduction sessions using meditation and movement. The hotel provides indoor and outdoor opportunities for guests and the local community to explore all the different aspects of wellness and “is a very good example of how the different wellness programs combine to provide a well-being hotel,” Gibson said.
He also pointed out that one of his priorities is Sofitel’s new Sleep, Eat, Sport & Spa program, which is already integrated into the new brand guidelines. Sofitel hotels in Cartagena, Rio, Marrakech, Dubai, Mauritius and Bangkok are scheduled to offer this wellness experience to guests by the end of 2017.
New agent reward program in the works
Rick Harvey Lam, AccorHotels LUXE senior vice president of global brand marketing, said “with the restructuring of the company, the launch of the Luxury Brands division and the new focus on wellness, we are reviewing, revamping and re-launching our rewards program for luxury agents and agencies.”
He says the AccorHotels luxury sales organization will be actively soliciting best practice options to incorporate into the new program from the agency community.
Chris Cahill, AccorHotels’ new CEO of Luxury Brands, says his goal is to establish the company as the leader in the luxury segment, and to do this, “we need innovators with proven expertise to drive our key business areas, like the increasingly important wellness sector.” He says with Gibson’s experienced guidance, AccorHotels can “look forward to exceeding the expectations of our discerning guests seeking well-being experiences.”
Anne Dimon is Travel Market Report’s wellness travel columnist and the founder/editor www.traveltowellness.com. Follow her on Twitter at @AnneDimon.