International Wellness Destination Spa Resort Market Spotlight:

Developing an International Class of Service in China

The Wellness Destination Resort concept is a gateway to a mind opening culture for the empowered segment of society, that seeks to cultivate a less stressed and a more dignified, clarified, beautiful state of mind and body. With this in mind, the process of creating an International Wellness Destination Resort (IWDR) Brand requires much more than determination, support and knowledge. An impressive collection of health therapies would be well served when delivered with impeccable standards and service excellence.

Building a luxury hospitality brand that focuses on integrated healthcare

We are now in an era where the traditional ideals of luxury are being challenged. The emerging trend of “Intelligent Luxury”; a growing group of people are choosing a minimalistic, quality over quantity lifestyle of subtly understated refinements, curating a “smarter” sense of balance whilst foregoing the bygone decadence of over-indulgence. This collective, growing awareness among a subset of more educated and affluent consumers has also led to unprecedented growth in health oriented travel and products around the core pillars of wellness: detoxification, aging well, weight management, lifestyle change, fitness, movement and mental health.

Wellness has solidified itself at center stage in the conversation within the hospitality and travel industry thanks to these shifting consumer preferences towards a more natural lifestyle, cultural enrichment and authenticity in experiences. This creates an opportunity for heavier holistic-wellness programming of the resort, considered very-niche 10 years ago, now commanding a larger share of the mass market. While the same trend threatens market share erosion when traditional up-scale hotels reposition their brands with emphasis on wellness as seen in Hyatt’s partnership with Be Well; minibars stocked with supplements and shakes and acquiring the Miraval Resort & Spa brand, SPG’s Westin’s wellness revamp with SuperfoodsRX menu and New Balance gear-lending and IHG Even Hotels in the mid-price range with fitness and healthy food options at the center of the brand’s concept. With elevated stakes, more critical than ever is positioning endowed resources closer to the core of the business, which are more valued, rare and difficult to imitate (Weldest Research Results, Illing et al., 2013,pp.54-55, 38).

Specialized wellness expertise, the software that connects personally with guests is the greatest opportunity to capture repeat business. When health & wellbeing of guests is at the CORE of the service culture in phenomenal environments, a special opportunity exists to deliver highly differentiated guest experience. Through a variety of programming offerings administered by specialized experts, the IWSR management concept can deliver the ultimate transformative and life-enrichment experience, acclaimed by even the most discerning VIP clientele, exceeding expectations across every layer of services on and off-site, seamlessly across all facilities on property, felt through curated immersive wellness details.

With experienced wellness team leadership with staff at the heart of a unified vision, we can succeed in creating the first of its kind in China; a IWDR model that delivers a consistent international standard of services and organic sense of community connectedness for both Chinese and International guests while staying with us or after returning back at home.

Weldest Research Results – Survey of 1333 International Wellness Resort Guests (Illing et al., 2013, pp.55)

Key IWDR Benchmark Considerations for Optimal Success

Wellness as the CORE Purpose:

· Staff is the Heart of the Retreat: selection and training will be integral to the retreat’s development

· 50% of the space should be devoted to Wellness and Spa facilities

· Extensive offerings of treatments, programs, advanced therapies, fitness facilities, supported by a very strong nutrition and food concept

· Ample dedicated spaces for activities, workshops and gathering

· Aggressive customer relationship management targets for repeat customers: > 50%

Location Demand Generators:

· Views & Natural Surroundings

· Comfortable access to international airport with good connectivity and road access

· Location drivers for Destination Wellness “Full Retreat” stay: 10-14 days stay

· Location for Urban Retreat “Quick Fix”: 3-4 days stay

· Specialized spa wet areas, natural thermal springs facilities, Thalassotherapy, Kneipp Walk, etc.


Key Programming Highlights:

·  Programs offered in multiple areas of integrative wellness retreat:

Detox, Aging Well, Weight Management, Lifestyle Change, Fitness and Yoga, and Mental Wellness tapping into one’s emotional, mental, physical and spiritual state

·  Specifically targeting chronic diseases and lifestyle problems; stress, obesity, burnout, smoking, and poor diet

·  Traditional and naturopathic medicine treatment facilities: TCM/Ayurveda

·  Medical Wellness Spa to include diagnostics and testing, with an extensive selection of specialists on-site


Optimal Operational Scale for IWDR

·  Maximum of 80-120 guest rooms

·  40-60 spa treatment rooms (half total number of guest room facilities)

·  Staff to guest ratio: 2 - 2.5 : 1

·  90-95% of guests receive multiple treatments

Health & Wellness Leadership Team:

As the concept of Integrated healthcare becomes more in demand, it equally comes under great scrutiny when not delivered professionally and holistically.  We believe that with strategy, good training and co-operation the greater sense of purpose of the Brand can be founded and communicated in a powerful and harmonious way.

Dr. Karen Himlok MTech Hom (RSA), MRN (UK)

Wellness practitioner from South Africa with a range of holistic health management and therapy skills and international training: Acupuncture, Western and Chinese Herbal Medicine, Organic Health and Beauty, Anti-ageing, Detoxification, Western and TCM Nutrition, Neuromuscular Release, Homeopathic Medicine, Theta Transformation Healing, Qi- Gong Energetic Healing.  

As an International Visiting Practitioner, in the past 8 years I have traveled extensively to meet with clients privately and held visiting consultancies at renowned luxury wellness resorts. 

I am interested in opportunities that offer an active role in the development of a wellness destination resort in which I can utilize my management and practicing skills, research and experience of consulting.

Passion to Develop a Leading Wellness Resort

Wellness Resort Consulting and Management Experience:

 · Chiva Som International Health and Wellness Medi-Spa Resort, Hua Hin, Thailand.  Head of Holistic Health Department and Specialist Holistic Practitioner

Visiting Consultancy Appointments:

· The Farm at San Benito, Philippines

· SHA Wellness Clinic, Spain  

· Kamalaya Koh Samui, Thailand

· Kandaya Resort, Cebu, Philippines.

· Landmark - Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Hong Kong. 

· Bellefontaine Swiss Clinic, Moscow, Russia – Consultancy featured in Vogue RU  

· Lane Crawford, Pedder Group, Hong Kong.

· Aviron Bayonnais Rugby Club, Bayonne, France - Winners of PRO Division2 2016

Advisory and Business Development Experience: 

General Council and Register of Naturopaths, Appointed to Educational Standing Committee, London, United Kingdom

· Chinese Medicine Administration Bureau, TCM Holistic Wellness Centre, Sanlitun, Beijing, China

· Green T House Living, creation of T-Detox, Shunyi, Beijing, China

Clinical Research Experience:

National Health Services UK and Cambridge University - Department of Developmental Psychiatry, Cambridge, United Kingdom

Health Presentations 

· Oasis International Hospital of Ciming Medical Group, Beijing, China

- Benefits of Holistic Therapies, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Hong Kong 

- Natural Therapies for Womens Health - Jewish Community Synagogue Beijing, China 


Additional Skills and Expertise to Sustain Wellness Resort Development:

· Management, Coordination of staff and business development of Holistic and other Wellness Departments.

· Hospitality Service and Wellness Training sessions for staff:  professional development, staff conduct in wellness therapies, new holistic services, TCM Philosophy, customer service excellence for building clientele and establishing repeat clientele, referrals across all wellness departments.

· Co-ordination and Overseeing the creation and running of wellness retreat packages: Holistic therapies, Fitness, Spa Beauty, Rehabilitation, Detoxification, Weight Loss, Anti Ageing, Drug Recovery

· Treatment Services and protocols 

· Wellness team recruitment 

· Wellness departments Standard Operating Procedures.

· Marketing Recommendations, promotional events, writing of journal articles, branding products

Markandeya Ferrio (USA) BA Supply Chain Mgt, Hospitality Mgt, Michigan State Univ.

My professional background has been focused around management in the services sector; hospitality management, food & beverage (F&B) and supply chain. After leaving the corporate world in 2012, I have been part of the creation of innovative brands that help stakeholders achieve higher returns while delivering a better product to customers. 

I will be directly involved with concept creation, recruitment & training, and managing architects, graphic designers, interior designers, copywriters, UX designers, media partners, online/offline marketing execution, operators and suppliers. 

My attraction to wellness hospitality stems from a deep passion and commitment to continuous learning and personal betterment while helping others strive for positivity, longevity, and higher performance lifestyles.


 · Fluent in Mandarin Chinese

·  Hotel and Wellness Resort Operator Business Development

·  Strategic Planning for Residential and Resort Developers

·  Partnership Experience with Local and International Real Estate Developers

·  Residential, Hotel & Resort Development Feasibility Analysis and Financial Modeling

·  Design and Construction Management Experience 

·  Led $50m Procurement Contract Negotiations

·  Educated in the Culture of Wellness

·  Hotel, Restaurant and Country Club Operations Management Experience 

Contact us if you would like to know more about:

Mark’s research and insight into how other wellness management companies and wellness resorts across the world provide development, management and execution of tasks to achieve goals in the creation of a leading Wellness resort brand. 


Karen’s research and insight of how some of the worlds leading destination wellness resorts deliver their health and hospitality services. 

Ways and ideas of how your company may proceed and succeed with holistic health services, staffing and management, and ways to maintain the fine balance of integrated healthcare when combining conventional medicine and natural, holistic therapies.