An Interview with Mr. Kurt Macher, General Manager of The Temple House
From the first steps through a historic courtyard, to the elegant modern design of hotel rooms and residences concealing a subterranean world, The Temple House is an engaging journey. Under the guidance of a wellness-in-mind general manager, The Temple House blends wellness experience into every detail and continuously launches innovative cultural and health programs.
An Austrian native, Kurt has over 27 years of experience in luxury hospitality. Prior to joining Swire Hotels, Kurt was the Group Director of Projects & Rooms for Wharf Hotels in Hong Kong. He has also held leadership roles within Rooms Division with Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts and The Peninsula Hotels Group. His career has taken him all over the world, including Switzerland, France, Canada, UAE, the Caribbean, USA, Singapore, Hong Kong, and currently Mainland China. Kurt joined Swire Hotels in July 2016 as the General Manager of The Temple House, Chengdu. During his tenure, Kurt has worked closely with the team to further enhance the offerings of personalised service, wellness and gastronomy. SpaChina interviewed Kurt. He shares with us how he manages to create the successful wellness experience of The Temple House.
What is the role of the “Wellness” concept at Temple House, and what kind of wellness experiences do you offer to the guests?
It’s a Lifestyle where one eats well and looks after body and mind. So our aim is to promote guests’ wellness experience through every aspect.
For exercise and fitness, we offer yoga sessions twice a week for hotel guests and the local community – we also introduced Wine Down Wednesdays – a free glass of wine, and slow yoga and meditation to release midweek stress. Also, we have a gym that features a personal trainer and boot camp classes, a 25-meter long pool, and Zumba classes and Tai Chi Classes on special occasions.
For spa experience, our signature MI XUN Spa in set within an over 100 years old Chinese Courtyard House that immediately calms your inner senses. We offer an overall package to taking care of you internally and externally and bring out the inner glow in you. We create bath rituals for relaxation and help to get over jet leg for long-haul travelers. Recently we cooperated with Venus Concept and use its advanced equipment Venus Legacy to tighten and contour the body.
Cultural experiences for the mind is regarded as a core part of wellness experience as well. That’s why we provide Tai Chi and calligraphy classes. Our library has 2,000 curated books to enrich your mind and let you step away from busy life. Also, the art gallery showcases local art to stimulate creativity.
Then it’s healthy cuisine. We have a vegetarian menu and organic teas at MI XUN Teahouse. We offer gluten-free options at breakfast, and we have a herb garden to promote farm to table healthy concept dishes in our restaurants.
It is said that “a good wellness hotel must be run by a wellness general manager.” How do you keep your own management style with wellness and stylish lifestyle? How can you deliver it to your staff and management details?
I am personally living a healthy lifestyle, hoping to share my treasure along the way with team members and the guests of hotel. I eat healthy and keep bringing new healthy food options to the hotel. I regularly work out and keep fostering new fitness programs to the hotel as well. I also introduced wellness days for team members to encourage them to feel the fun in exercising and benefits from healthy eating. I am passionate for spas, desire to look good and feel good. I always read and research spa/fitness articles on new trends and try to bring them to our hotel. As I always get inspired by travel, I bring spa and wellness ideas back to inspire the team and implement the ideas when appropriate.
MI XUN Spa attracts not only hotel guests, but also many local guests as well. Could you share with us the secret behind that?
First of all, the spa’s open-plan concept and its location in an over 100 years old Chinese Courtyard House is unique. It is within Tai Koo Li and next to Mi Xun Teahouse, which give it a lot of exposure. Meanwhile, we offer spa and gym memberships for local guests with great benefits. Additionally, we have our yoga sessions twice a week, and many events we hold such as Global Wellness Day are open to the public as well.
Please tell us about the “Sustainable” concept of your hotel operation.
We regard sustainable development as a core and this is reflected obviously in our offerings. We changed all plastic containers and bottled waters to offering water in glasses and cups, and even the massage oils are presented in glass bottles. For coffee exfoliation massage, we use freshly-ground coffee grinds which we get from the café and incorporate them into our massage oil. We also create our own foot scrub for Footbath rituals at the beginning of every treatment – natural sugar or Himalayan rose salt – soaked with cold-pressed coconut oil infused with essential oils, mixed with dried flowers or tealeaves. This is not only beneficial to the environment but also educational to the consumer and we host DIY classes for guest to do the scrubs at home.
Micro beads can be found in commercial scrubs, soaps and toothpastes which may cause water pollution. Several countries have already banned micro beads from rinse-off cosmetics, including USA, Canada, France, New Zealand, Sweden, Taiwan and the United Kingdom.
How do you make use of MI XUN Spa to carry out wellness experiences? What is the competitive edge and core services of MI XUN as a wellness unit? How do you design treatments and programs and what are the most popular treatments among guests?
Our Spa rounds up the hotel experience beautifully as we are nestled in the cosmopolitan Tai Koo Li. MI XUN Spa’s décor and ambience, our spa team’s character enhance and make it our competitive edge as it gives one a sense of nostalgia (a step back into the past due to its historical architect) and serene surroundings. A treatment at our spa truly brings out the best of both worlds. Our core services are a wide range of body and facial treatments
We design treatments and programs that meet the needs and wants of the modern savvy traveler. So we offer both traditional treatments and high tech equipment. Themae uses natural four types of tea properties to deliver beautiful skincare while Venus Legacy, a non-evasive equipment, promises and delivers results similar to aesthetic lifting and slimming/contouring treatments.
Signature Bamboo massage and the Venus Legacy for body and facial treatments are the most popular treatments. Our barber’s ultimate shave and haircut is a top seller too.
At many hotels today, spa is not very profitable and is even considered boring. What are the reasons for this? What are your suggestions for it?
I can say something in terms of Chengdu. Chengdu’s spending habits and lifestyle have not progressed or matured into that of modern cities like Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou where the people often visits the spa to relax and unwind. The locals still have a penchant for local health centers for tuina or guasha or foot massage parlors. It will definitely take some time to change. Exposure and educating the locals by pop ups or events would allow them to better understand that there is a different type of spa experience which allows total relaxation performed by professional therapists using the safest equipment and products.