Interview with Kurt Macher, General Manager of The Temple House, Chengdu
An Austrian native, Kurt has over 27 years of experience in luxury hospitality. Prior to joining Swire Hotels, Kurt held leadership roles with Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts and The Peninsula Hotels Group. A graduate of the College of Tourism & Leisure Industry Bad Gleichenberg in Austria, Kurt entered hospitality and spa industry right after graduation. Over the years, his career has taken him all over the world, including Switzerland, France, Canada, UAE, the Caribbean, USA, Singapore, Hong Kong and currently China. Kurt joined Swire Hotels in July 2016 as the General Manager of The Temple House, Chengdu. During his tenure, Kurt has led the team to further enhance the offerings of personalized service, wellness and gastronomy, and established the hotel as one of the top hotels in Asia. It was awarded #1 City Hotel in Asia by Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards 2017. SpaChina has the opportunity to interview him in regarding of the latest trends in sustainable operation.
What is the concept of MI XUN Spa at The Temple House, Chengdu?
The design concept of MI XUN evolves around the life of a plant – from growing, to branching out, to becoming a canopy and providing a space to rest, and to sustain and to nurture. Each stage of the plant’s development relates to one of the spaces in the spa.
MI XUN Spa harnesses the synergy in between the East and the West – a true representation of the modern Chengdu, a dynamic cultural melting pot. We use the restorative and rejuvenating properties of local Chinese teas, combined with the medi-aesthetic technologies from the West, to deliver significant results with just one treatment. We also have a signature Bamboo massage that combines Swedish massage techniques, Oriental-style strokes, and conducted with Bamboo sticks.
This year we renovated the MI XUN Teahouse to include a new kitchen, and to offer a more extensive vegan and vegetarian menu. Our vegetarian MaPoToFu, as well as spicy/non-spicy vegan Hot Pots are extremely popular amongst the locals and international guests.
What kind of wellness experiences are well-accepted among nowadays’ consumers?
Traditionally, Chinese consumers have been interested in therapies focused on relaxation – tension relieving massages and facials. However, there is a growing trend towards medi-aesthetic therapies which can quickly improve the condition of one’s skin and appearance and towards treatments that use only natural organic products. To perfectly meet guests’ requirements, we have invested in the latest technologies like Venus Legacy and adopted niche brands like THÉMAÉ, our natural health care line using benefits of teas; and Meseostic, our medi-esthetic brand, to cater to the different needs of our customers.
How do you see the market potential of male guests’ demand on high-end wellness services?
Men, especially millennial men, are more likely to invest time and money to have clearer skin and attain better physiques. This can be seen by the pick-up in anti-aging facials and massages designed to tone the body. The majority of Chinese male clients still favor treatments focused on the body. Whereas international guests are quite open to recommendations for facial treatments. We recommend that men incorporate facials and massage treatments into their monthly routine, in addition to healthy diet and regular exercises – to enhance and prolong the results of their health conditions and youthful appearances.
How does MI XUN Spa maintain sustainable development and operation?
At MI XUN Spa we highly value the importance of sustainable development and operation. We believe in reducing the reliance on chemicals, sulfates, parabens and microbeads, to minimize the negative effects on our environment. For example, we have created our own organic foot scrubs and are in the process of developing new products created from the leftover tea plant-based materials from our MI XUN Teahouse. We replaced all plastic straws with biodegradable paper straws in all our outlets; and service MI XUN guests water in chinaware instead of plastic bottles. Over the past year, we have cut down the usage of plastic bottles in MI XUN Spa by 80%. We also implemented a car-sharing program amongst the hotel staffs, in order to contribute our efforts of reducing carbon footprints.
While there is a growing awareness for sustainable operations in China, we still have a long way to go, in order to catch up with the Europe or the USA. I believe that hotels and spas can make a difference, by implementing and providing more sustainable options to guests.
At The Temple House we have done several CSR projects such as: “Pay-It-Forward with the barber haircuts” – with every haircut we have done in September and October of 2017, we provide a complimentary haircut for an elderly person in a local retirement home. Our goal is to further focus on sustainability in alignment with Swire’s “SD 2030” movement, in order to be one of the companies with the most sustainable initiatives by 2030.