Interview with Mr. Tony Cheung, Founder of P&A Engineering Ltd and PA Wellness Consultancy Ltd
Mr. Tony Cheung established P&A Engineering Ltd in 1997 and has since provided world-class consultancy, project construction and business solutions to the wellness and recreation industry across Asia, especially mainland China and Hong Kong. Projects include but not limited to construction of Water Parks, swimming pools, wellness centers, fountain and water landscapes, ski ranges and electromechanical systems. In 2004, Tony founded PA Wellness Consultancy Ltd to center on the flourishing wellness and spa industry in the Asia and Greater China area. Under the guidance of Tony, PA Wellness has been in charge of over 100 projects and is undoubtedly a highly recognized professional consultant of luxury spas as well as a trustable partner of international hotel groups and real estate developers. PA Wellness’s strengths especially lie in the creation of spa concepts, construction of complicated hydrotherapy and thermal facilities (such as sauna, Hammam, snow chamber, Vichy shower, all kinds of pools, etc.) and pre-opening support including treatment design, training support, and marketing and more.
Tony has not only contributed many remarkable projects with his professional team and promoted the industry’s healthy development with his rich experience and foresight, but is also known as a modest teacher who is willing to give guidance and support to the industry juniors. Tony has twice been awarded as “Most Outstanding Contributor to the China Spa Industry of the Year” in SpaChina Awards 2012 and 2015. SpaChina interviewed Mr. Tony Cheung on his ideas about China’s current health & wellness trends.
Do you now deal with more “health & wellness”-related projects than before? Why are hotels and resorts’ showing increasing enthusiasm for wellness?
That’s right. I now handle more wellness related programs than before. I think the reason is that both business travelers and recreation travelers are now showing stronger interest in health and wellness. So they hope to seize the chance to experience various wellness programs and facilities in the hotels or resorts in which they stay.
Today, people are looking less for momentary relaxation, and more for effective improvements to body, mind and spiritual health. From your perspective, is such “wellness” awareness and demand a China or global trend?
Wellness has developed for several years in China. Many people have benefited from it and therefore turn it to more as a part of their life now. In Western countries, wellness-related programs have emerged much earlier than in China and have come to a comparatively mature state. Therefore, many foreign designers and operators are now very active in China’s market because they see huge demand here. Meanwhile, a lot of professionals in China are also greatly promoting the wellness programs. However, just like many other trends, though blooming everywhere, wellness programs feature very different qualities from one and another and there is a lack of a standard. So truly high-end wellness seekers are far from satisfied by most of the programs available in the market. Many of them still choose to go abroad for a better experience, and many of them invest in programs themselves hoping for more satisfactory facilities and services. But it is not easy since there are not many professionals who can really help them and meet their needs. To develop wellness programs in China, one should never blindly take over the foreign model. Rather, adjustments should be adopted so as to meet Chinese guests’ demands and habits. Meanwhile, it is also important to be able to expand in the short term and meet the rapid increasing needs of China’s market.
What are the age differences between wellness guests in China and Europe & U.S.?
In China, wellness seekers believe that 40 is the golden age for health maintenance when all the efforts can really see the full effect. So people pay more attention to nutrition and wellness activities from this age on. However, most foreigners think that health maintenance is something to be done after retirement. I have to say, it is very wise to start wellness care at an earlier age, it can increase the life span. This year, Hong Kong has gone beyond Japan, and become the please with the highest longevity in the world, I think that has something to do with Chinese wellness culture – start from an earlier age to care about your health.
From your perspective, what are the differences between health & wellness projects and ordinary hotel projects? What are the challenges of constructing health & wellness projects?
Wellness is not a core part of a normal hotel project and there is no comprehensive design and construction needed for wellness. Nevertheless, to construct a comprehensive wellness program can be something totally different and will meet many challenges. Wellness involves many different aspects and sustainability is the key. Therefore a team composed of true professionals with the respective background is required so that they can handle everything from concept creation, graphic design, function layout, facility matching and operation and management.
What is the status of current China health & wellness projects? What suggestions do you have?
China’s wellness programs are just at the budding stage. So you can see numerous modes and styles in many places, but without a fixed pattern or standard. We want to create a high-end mode, mainly in the European style and dotted with Eastern elements, to give guests a true joyful experience and remarkable wellness effects.
After the completion of the project, will you cooperate with your clients to offer end consumers a better experience with your facilities and concepts?
Yes, it is very important to cooperate with our clients after the completion of the project, especially for such new kinds of wellness projects. We will join hands with clients to promote the wellness concept, arouse people’s interest in wellness, guide people to have better experience, educate them how to achieve the best wellness effect, and above all, let them become our regular visitors.
What is the development prospect of China’s hospitality and tourism market? Will SPA still be important?
I believe spa will always be the core of wellness programs. Hotels and resorts which already have spas are much easier to be upgraded into a wellness sanctuary. In recent years, many city hotels have realized such a transformation and become popular weekend destinations for city dwellers.
What kinds of SPA is needed by future health & wellness resorts?
Multifunctional spas are most needed.
Are there any impressive cases you want to share with us?
We are very happy to have joined the design and construction of Sangha Retreat By Octave. Located by the picturesque Yangcheng Lake, the property includes a destination wellness resort, a medical center and wellness villas, with top facilities and services in Asia. The project’s vision is quite international and far-sighted. In addition to spa treatments, fitness, yoga, meditation and organic dining, there are also various spaces for Connection and Interaction. A healthy communication is the core value of the resort. Moreover, it boasts the biggest spa area in China, featuring characteristic facilities and programs such as Watsu, Floatation, Hammam, Rhassoul, Salt Cave and etc, aiming to encourage guests to enjoy a marvelous spa and wellness journey with their families and friends.
What’s your opinion on wellness tourism? Do you have any plan to be involved in it?
Wellness tourism has now become very popular. But there are very few true wellness destinations or facilities for guests to enjoy. Nor are there enough people to guide guests for a better experience. Recently, we have received many consulting projects on this aspect. Our team is now working hard on the issue and is ready to prepare more comprehensive services to guests. We hope to accomplish more excellent projects in the short term.