Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, is a city with boundless potential, says Mr. Richard Deutl, General Manager of St. Regis Chengdu. SpaChina had the opportunity to interview him
The top inland Chinese city in terms of prospects and development, according to just about everyone, is Chengdu, the provincial capital of Sichuan. Mr. Richard Deutl, General Manager of St. Regis Chengdu, is a complete convert.
“I believe Chengdu will embrace an even brighter future in next five years, based on its amazingly fast growth, in terms of economy, infrastructure, tourism, hospitality and global influence,” he said.
Mr. Deutl, with nearly three decades of experience, in the industry, led the pre-opening team for the St. Regis Chengdu, which opened in Sep 4, 2014. Prior to that, he opened the The Westin Nanjing and worked at various Starwood hotels around the world. He has ten years of China experience, having also served as General Manager of the Sheraton Hotel in both Tianjin and Wuxi. He first joined Starwood at Sheraton Innsbruck, Austria in 1988.
Here are excerpts from SpaChina conversation with him:
When was your first time to Chengdu, what is your impression of this city?
My first time to Chengdu was October 2012. I was impressed that this is really a dynamic, well-structured city. It’s really difficult to compare Chengdu with other first-tier cities like Beijing, Shanghai or Hong Kong, since it’s unique, with its own distinctive culture and features. The historical legacy, fast development and comfortable lifestyle are combined perfectly here. All foreigners would like living in Chengdu. I like its international connections, it’s very easy to fly in and out, the environment is nice with a good climate. There is so many delicious food of which my favorite is Tofu. I am a big fan of our Chinese Chef Mike Li who cooked really wonderful Sichuan dishes like Stir-Fried Fish Fillets with handmade Chili Sauce, Mapo Tofu, etc. I miss Chengdu flavor if I am not here for just three weeks.”
What is your guest profile? Where do they come from?
Hotel guests include business and leisure FIT, MICE groups, and banquet and wedding guests. Sixty percent are from mainland China while others are from North America, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Europe. On average they stay 2-3 nights. We’re highly spoken-of by guests for our signature butler service, guestroom facilities, dining quality and private while elegant ambience.
What are the top offerings of the hotel you are proud of?
In addition to the signature St. Regis rituals such as Afternoon Tea, Champagne Sabering, Bloody Marys, and St. Regis Butler Service, St. Regis Chengdu has outstanding facilities as well, including the exceptional Iridium Spa, the only one hotel with both an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, spacious and high-tech equipped guest rooms, elegant dining outlets like YunFu, Decanter and Yanting. Our Aficionado program and family tradition also impress guests with seamless care and exploration to this storied city. Nowadays guests are seeking not only for a bed and a restaurant in a hotel, but a holistic experience, something really luxurious, private and customized. A high profile Spa facility let you escape from the busy routine life, recovering with real relaxation and rejuvenation. About 8% of house guests use spa.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of managing an international high-end hotel in Chengdu?
I feel privileged to have such an elite hotel team, especially after two years, we still have so many loyal staff who joined us in the pre-opening stage still working here. I don’t think there are any disadvantages to manage an international high-end hotel in Chengdu. For the general managers of different luxury brand hotels in Chengdu, we’re here working not only for the hotel, but also for the city’s development, that is to place Chengdu on the map of the global hospitality industry and become known to the world. My management style is to leave more freedom and space for my staff, inspiring them to be self-motivated, results driven, detail oriented, hard-working and smart, with my guidance and support.
How do you see the business competition in Chengdu?
Such a high profile hotel portfolio in the Chengdu market speaks for the city itself. Not many cities in China like Chengdu have gathered so many top-tier hotels in one district. Generally speaking, it’s useful to drive the healthy competition of creating personalized and high standard experience beyond expectations, to capture more guests, but the market seems nearly full already.
Iridium Spa has a big space and leading spa equipment. What are the key concepts for Iridium Spa?
Yes, Iridium Spa treatment is distinctive for its unique concept of seamlessly incorporating high-tech facilities with natural treatment solutions. It features a crystal and stone energizing system, a lighting system for color meditation therapy, senses loungers, holistic cocoon suites, aroma steaming & cell bathing system, aqua-dry massage tables including bathing and thermal. These luxury settings ensure that all guests have an exceptional experience of not only the relaxation available in other spa centers, but also the fun and joy of exploration as well as naturally returning to a normal life rhythm after a thorough rejuvenation. As the economic and cultural hub of southwest China, Chengdu is experiencing rapid growth, with tangible improvements to people’s life. The well-educated, high-income people are getting more aware of and enthusiastic about luxury spa treatments which can refine their body and soul.
We have quite a few frequent guests from both the foreign and local community. As well as elegant ladies, we are more than happy to see many gentlemen joining our membership. Te lifestyle of Chengdu is very well known in China as it’s very like southern Europe’s slow-paced style, which is of course good for the health with their super strong anti-pressure capability and cheerful personality.
What is the favorite treatment at Iridium Spa?
The signature TaiJi Massage, which combines TaiJi balancing theory, traditional Chinese massage and classic aroma therapy, and can ease body fatigue and balance energy field, refreshing mind and spirit with Herbal Mineral Pad. Iridium Spa has also adopted the top quality amenity “Amala” from Germany, which has won global organic recognition, to ensure a perfect delivery of refreshing experience. Another popular signature program is ‘Designed Escape’, which inherits the bespoke service of the St. Regis brand, customizing your own treatment package based on all the existing selections, with the help of our professional therapist. Price is RMB1,880 for 150 minutes.
If friends only have 36 hours in Chengdu, what would you suggest they do?
I would suggest they stay at The St. Regis Chengdu and let our professional butler customize a 36-hour itinerary for them. The Panda Base, Beijiu Museum, Sichuan Cuisine Museum, and the Jinsha Site Museum are all popular destinations. Local snacks are a must-try. If short of time, our Chinese Restaurant offers authentic flavors of Chengdu snacks like Mao Xuewang, Dandan Noodle, Chongqing Noodle, etc. The Social buffet restaurant on the 4th floor features MaoCai, Bobo Chicken, and seasonal hot pot in winter. I also strongly recommend our Iridium Spa winter promotion package. Guests can enjoy body massage of 60 minutes for only RMB688 or 90 minutes treatment at RMB888, with a choice of Deep Tissue and Aromatherapy Fusion, etc. The most high-tech and spacious spa suite will highlight your stay with extreme relaxation and indulgence.