Interview with Mr. Grant Horsfield, Founder and Chairman of naked Group
As Founder and Chairman of naked Group, a lifestyle business with a vision to create sanctuaries that are in harmony with the environment, Grant Horsfield successfully created naked’s signature resort – naked Stables in Moganshan with his wife in 2011. It inaugurated a new trend of discovering the natural rhythm of life in rural lodgings and has received numerous awards domestically and internationally. In 2017, naked has rebuilt the legend of Moganshan with the establishment of naked Castle. And since 2015 Grant Horsfield has expanded the naked philosophy to learning and co-working spaces. In this issue, SpaChina talks with him.
What inspired you to create this naked lifestyle hospitality brand in China?
naked was born ten years ago, at a time when China and Shanghai lacked an escape from the crazy life of the city. When we were dreaming about a better place for people to have a better way to live, it was always about going back to Nature, because it symbolizes a way in getting naked, stripping away all the excess that you don’t need in life. So, we created naked, a place to rebalance the body and soul to bring out the real you.
What are the special traits of naked’s main customers?
Our target guests is the middle-class level. Ninety percent of our guests are from the Yangtze River Delta. In the past two years, we are seeing more and more guests from 2nd and 3rd-tier cities like Wenzhou and Ningbo. These guests’ requirements are quite different from those of Shanghai guests. They always come with a big family. So it’s a new challenge for us to balance different guests’ requirements.
We are also a conference resort. A considerable number of our guests are corporate guests from Shanghai, particularly during weekdays. They are here for a conference or team-building. I think this business model is more sustainable and serves well to secure profits.
How is naked Stables’ business doing in recent years?
Up to now, I believe naked Stables has the best profit performance among China’s hospitality industry. Income of each of naked Stables’ rooms amounts to 1 million RMB. So, regarding income performance per room, naked Stables is probably the best in China.
Why is it that naked’s resorts are even more attractive than some well-known international luxury hospitality brand?
Most renowned international hotel groups have fixed criteria and guidelines for hotel construction. Though it makes hotel and resort building extremely easy, yet existing criteria are also a kind of confinement, which may hinder creation.
At naked, we don’t have existing criteria, we have enough freedom to imagine, to create. A lot of ideas are from local villagers’ life, and guests can experience something really special. For instance, our bathtubs are not placed in the washroom, but are next to the window, which makes you will feel more naked and closer to Nature when bathing. At naked Castle, we have a special room equipped with iron chains. It is quite sought-after among our guests.
How is your brand philosophy and culture embodied at the naked Leaf Spa?
Since opening in 2012, our culture has been wellness in all we do, including the naked Leaf Spa. At naked Leaf Spa, we provide a place for guest to embrace the joy of wellness and a place to immerse themselves in Nature and rediscover the pure, playful, and passionate side of your heart.
We’re one of the first resorts created with a new approach to detox through 3 related angles: diet, exercise and spa. Our naked Detox program helps guests make a lasting positive impact on their lives. It features a special healthy detox menu developed by our executive chef as well as a range of holistic therapies for cleansing the body, mind and spirit, including walks and mountain biking among the beautiful Nature of Moganshan, morning yoga sessions, etc.
How big is China’s “natural mild luxury” hospitality market?
China’s market scale for the hospitality industry with a stylish and natural mild luxury theme is still small, yet the market potential is incredibly large. There are some new programs emerging in the past two or three years, yet the development pace is not really fast.
Why did you choose to enter the co-working industry in China?
We believe that the future of offices and the way we work will be very different, and we want to be part of that change. We see a strong link between the resorts and co-working spaces, as traditional work/life boundaries have changed – now work and life are inextricably intertwined, and our entry into the co-working industry reflects this. We have launched the first naked Hubin November 2015 in Shanghai and opened 8 naked Hubs in only ten months. And the market feedback is quite positive.