Interview with Mr. Kurt Macher, General Manager of The Temple House
The Temple House, a beautiful boutique hotel in a heritage setting, has a modern design in one of the best locations in Chengdu – within the prestigious Sino Ocean Tai Koo Li development. With the largest modern guest rooms in the city, it has spacious luxury residences, interesting gastronomic concepts, unique event spaces, holistic wellness and spa offerings, and an art gallery and library in the Biteshi Heritage building. The well-trained staff also deliver personalized yet understated service.
MI XUN, is built within a historic Qing Dynasty courtyard and its philosophy relates to the development stages of a plant – the process of growth, maturing to its full potential, curation (classification) and finally ongoing sustenance and nurturing. Each stage of the plant’s development relates to one of the spaces in the spa – the treatment rooms, the ‘breathing space’, retail area and café.
“We were extremely fortunate to have two beautiful heritage buildings that we could bring back to life with new uses,” said Kurt. “The southern courtyard is designed to be more public with the retail and café functions and the northern courtyard is the tranquil spa retreat with treatment rooms. These two courtyards are separated by a ‘breathing space’, which allows guests to physically disconnect from the bustle of the city before entering into the treatment area.”
An Austrian native, Mr. Macher has over 26 years of experience in luxury hospitality. Prior to joining Swire Hotels, Kurt was the Group Director of Projects & Rooms for Marco Polo Hotels in Hong Kong. He has also held leadership roles with The Four Seasons Hotels Group and The Peninsula Hotels Group.
A graduate from the College of Tourism & Leisure Industry Bad Gleichenberg in Austria, Kurt started his career in the F&B division at The Suvretta House in St. Moritz, Switzerland. His career has taken him all over the world: including Switzerland, France, Canada, UAE, the Caribbean, USA, Singapore, and Hong Kong. He joined Swire Hotels in July 2016 as the General Manager of The Temple House, Chengdu.
On his first visit to Chengdu in 2015, the first thing Kurt noticed was the overall order and cleanliness of the city. “I was also highly impressed by how welcoming and friendly people from Chengdu are. Chengdu, unlike other major metropolises across the globe, has a subtle, almost relaxed pace that I find quite unique. People in Chengdu live and work in a major cosmopolitan city, yet know how to disconnect from the fast pace to really enjoy what the city has to offer.”
“I love the blend of history, culture, and easy outdoor lifestyle that Chengdu offers,” he added. “It is an emerging city with strong year on year growth, and more international companies and consulates setting up operations here.”
Here are some excerpts from SpaChina’s interview with Kurt Macher:
What is your guest profile and why do they choose The Temple House?
Ninety percent of our guests are from China, with the rest coming mainly from Europe and the USA. Most of our guests are discerning high-end leisure guests that stay 2 – 4 days in our urban resort and spend between 7,000 – 12,000 RMB across accommodation, dining and wellness.
Our guests choose our House to enjoy an authentic Chengdu experience, in understated residential luxury that feels unique yet familiar.
Apart from the unique design of our hotel, and award-winning MI XUN spa, one reason we hear for guests coming back to stay with us is our stellar House team. We welcome guests to our House with the warmth and sincerity that we would normally reserve for our closest friends and family. We do not wear nametags because we interact with guests in a personalized manner, and go above and beyond to make your stay with us memorable.
As an expert General Manager, how do you find working with the local team?
When I was appointed as the General Manager of the Temple House, I was worried that my inability to speak Chinese would hamper my ability to effectively communicate with the team. However, my local team have a positive can-do attitude, are incredibly curious, and are dedicated to working with me to making our House a success. In a very short space of time, I believe we have very effective two-way communication and are working as one to raise the levels of service in the hotel even further, and driving tangible business results.
One of the key advantages of managing a Swire Hotel is that we have a clear brand philosophy based on understated luxury. Because of this, we have interest not only from guests, but also potential staffs who have an affinity to the House Collective brand. In terms of management style, I am a very hands-on GM and believe in motivating my team by example. While I do have high expectations, I believe in running a fair and transparent operation, and always empower my staff to achieve success.
How do you see the business competition in Chengdu?
As one of the fastest growing tier two Chinese cities, Chengdu is currently seeing an oversupply of large international hotel brands, with more hotel chains entering the market. In order to be noticed in this competitive landscape, hotels have to provide guests with a unique product, exclusive offerings and ultimately, a memorable experience. Our young House has not yet risen to its full potential, and exciting times lie ahead for us. We will continue to enhance our wellness and gastronomy offerings, to establish our House as one of the best urban resorts in China. We will continue to partner with high-end luxury brands (such as Cartier and Lanvin), artists and influencers to create atelier experiences for our guests.
We also want to rediscover forgotten Chinese traditions and art. Through our specially curated library of 1000 Chinese and 1000 English books, we also hope to connect with people via engaging literary content. Creating unforgettable experiences is at the core of our DNA. We invite everyone to stay with us to experience a new era in understated luxury hospitality.
How do you see the importance of the spa as part of a luxury hotel or resort?
Having a holistic spa and wellness offering is integral to the identity of The Temple House. As a luxury urban resort, our MI XUN Spa offers guests a unique oasis in the heart of bustling Chengdu. We believe that a great spa is a combination of the tranquil spa environment, the expertise of the therapists, as well as the latest innovations in spa treatment technology and products. On average, 40% of our spa clientele are hotel guests, with the majority being leisure travelers.
What is your signature treatment at Mi Xun Spa?
We promote a lifestyle of wellness by adopting natural spa remedies, nutritional cuisine and bespoke treatments. The spa menu offers high performance elements that are results driven. Exclusive to MI XUN Spa, is our range of Mesoestetic facials. Their scientific approach to anti-ageing has resulted in the creation of highly effective skin correcting, balancing, illuminating, and rejuvenating products that turns back the signs of ageing.
Gentlemen can choose from a full range of treatments to ensure he looks groomed from head-to-toe. This begins with the haircut, precision cutting and styling at its finest from our top barber. We offer a consultation, prep the skin with hot aromatic towel, and use a traditional bristle brush to lift the stubble before the commencement of the cleanest possible wet shave. Our in-house post-shave treatment involves the application of a soothing and calming post-shave balm and protective moisturizing facial. To ensure that you look dapper from head to toe when you walk out of MI XUN, your shoes will be sent off for the perfect shoeshine and returned by the time your treatment is done. Our Barber uses British Men’s skincare range, Refinery.