An interview with Mr. Simon McHendry,
General Manager of The Temple House, Chengdu
Mr. Simon McHendry, is the General Manager of The Temple House, Chengdu, overseeing operations and leading the team in Chengdu.
Simon began his career in Asia over a decade ago in 2004 when he relocated from London to Hong Kong and then later to Beijing. With hospitality in his blood and planted in Asia all these years, Simon has gained valuable insights through fully immersing himself in the culture and building genuine relationships.
In 2015, Simon joined Swire Hotels first as Executive Assistant Manager – Sales & Marketing at The Opposite House, then later in 2016 moved over to EAST, Beijing, taking on the role of General Manager. Having been a part of the Swire Hotels family for over four years in both The House Collective and EAST brands, he embodies the Swire culture and guides the team at The Temple House in the same spirit, encouraging team members to be themselves, make decisions, try new things, and most importantly, to have a sense of humor. He also brings with him to The Temple House a deep understanding of Swire Hotels’ dedication to service, familiarity with culture, as well as a wealth of knowledge and experience in both back-of-house and front-of-house operations.
Mr. McHendry, who in the first year after he took the position in The Temple House Chengdu in 2019 encountered the pandemic and continues to successfully lead the team through these challenging times, was interviewed by SpaChina.
China’s domestic tourism has been recovering. How high is the occupancy rate during this summer vacation in July?
As the Chinese Mainland has eased restrictions on domestic travel, we have naturally seen an uptake in bookings, and July has been the start of very encouraging months for us with occupancy levels over 90%.
What kind of experiences do the guests want to have during their stay by choosing The Temple House, Chengdu?
Our guest profile continues to be quite varied, with increased domestic visitors than previously. We are fortunate to have built a loyal following and have many repeat guests who stay with us for business and pleasure, with the average length of stay of 2 nights. They come to experience the beautiful blend of traditional and modern design of The Temple House which is very much a landmark here in Chengdu, amidst the chic Taikoo Li shopping and entertainment paradise.
Has The Temple House launched any health-related or wellness packages, spa treatments or others in this post epidemic era?
We are seeing a move towards healthier living. We have recently launched our new summer vegetarian menu at our MI XUN Teahouse, re-introduced our rooftop yoga every Saturday and have a fantastic selection of wellness packages and treatments at our MI XUN Spa including our new MI XUN Ultimate Transformation Journey which includes a 60-minute Bamboo massage, our Venus Legacy V-shape Facial and a wash and style.
Currently what factors do the guests first consider to choose a hotel to stay?
In my opinion, it will take some time for domestic consumption levels to consistently reach pre-pandemic levels as confidence in the stability of the situation grows. Therefore health and safety is definitely a greater consideration now when hotel choices are made, which calls for increased sanitation measures. That being said, experience will always be a priority, so engaging hospitality and the introduction of fresh new initiatives and service offerings continue to be of utmost importance. Travelers would probably seek out places that they can fully trust to give them a good balance between safety and impeccable guest experience.
Will the pandemic affect the traditional ways of the hotel industry and staff work routines?
In the long-term, I feel that people won’t be fearful of traveling, although they will expect hotels and airlines to increase the frequency for both deep cleaning and daily disinfecting procedures. Hotels will need to adapt and be creative to find different ways to surprise and delight guests, in the face of post-Covid-19 restrictions that may become the norm. As unfortunate as this whole situation has been, it is making the industry that much stronger and equipped to face possible future challenges, and is raising travel expectations and standards globally.
What challenges do you think the hotel industry will face in future?
The travel restrictions in place globally will be challenging and rather unpredictable for the hotel industry. Being part of Swire Hotels, our approach is far from formulaic, and the current pandemic situation have encouraged our appetite for innovating and improvising as we steer through the coming months. Our people are encouraged to have fun and be playful, and creativity naturally stems from this to create new offerings and unique experiences. As ever, our team will continue to adapt and respond to the needs and desires of our guests.
What do you think of the economic situation next year in China and worldwide? What kind of mentality and action should we take to prepare for it? Full effects of the pandemic on the economy have yet to be seen, and there are many factors involved that are out of our control, making it vital for the hospitality industry to be fluid in terms of managing change, as well as keeping optimistic, supportive, and showing solidarity with our communities and guests.