An interview with Mr. Christophe Olivro, Regional Director,
Aman China & General Manager, Amanyangyun
Each Aman resort is located in an exclusive destination with an amazing natural settings and rich historic and cultural heritage. It is Aman’s vision to provide guests with a localized experience with no compromise on its luxury DNA, which makes each Aman a unique storytelling journey. Meanwhile, Aman strives to more deeply understand the ever-changing needs of the market and thus enhances and updates its offerings from time to time. At present, there are four Aman properties in China.
Christophe Olivro, the Regional Director of Aman China and General Manager of Amanyangyun, has over two decades of leadership experience in luxury hospitality. Hailing from Caen of France, Christophe began his career in 1996 with Ritz-Carlton and later moved to The Dorchester Collection in 2006. Christophe joined Aman as General Manager of its star property in Utah – Amangiri. He then further advanced his career with Aman by moving to Asia as the General Manager of Amanpulo, Aman’s property on the tropical Pamalican Island in the Philippines. During his tenure there, Christophe was promoted as the regional director to oversee Aman’s four properties in mainland China as well as Amanpulo. It was during those years that he started to learn about the Chinese market. Christophe joined Amanyangyun in early March 2018, where he continued in the role of regional director and successfully led the team to launch Amanyangyun. SpaChina interviewed him especially concerning the China market.
The Aman brand is well-known worldwide and is associated with the very top of the luxury market. What are the advantages that you think Aman brings? What makes it different from other resorts in the China market, and how would you define the luxury market in China compared to other places?
Each Aman is very unique. It’s storytelling. It’s a story about a location, its people and culture. For China, if you go to Aman Summer Palace, then you are back to the emperor times. If you go to Amandayan, it’s about national culture and Yunnan province and what it has to offer. Amanfayun is a spiritual one. The latest one, Amanyangyun, is unique because it’s a story of the preservation of Chinese local heritage by moving 10,000 camphor trees and ancient villas from Jiangxi province to Shanghai. If you go to other Amans, likewise, each one is unique.
In terms of luxury, we have learned during the last 12 years how the Chinese customer behavior is different. Aman’s vision is to be local in terms of a luxury lifestyle and what we want to do in the Chinese market first is an understanding of customers, to understand especially how to reach out to them. I think there’s a sense of curiosity. They come with their own values and appreciation of luxury. In the last couple of years, we’ve been making big efforts in marketing, especially digital marketing and how to keep Aman’s image of being a local guy. And I think we have seen successes in different Amans in China, and overseas as well.
Why is spa essential to five star hotels and resorts? What is the value, in terms of the overall running of the operations?
I think the spa is a great opportunity. It is very clear how it has changed during the last 5 to 10 years. We talked about the spa 10 years ago as an amenity, but now it’s a business and we have now a lot of spa business professionals. Take Aman for example, if we look at what we have developed over the last couple of years, we develop not only spas, but more an enhancement of overall wellbeing and wellness offerings. There are also the medical aspects. We see the need. People really care about lifestyle and are looking to even further optimize their lifespan. They are trying everything no matter what age they are, young or old. It’s our obligation to meet their needs. Very interestingly, for example, at each location in China, you need to have different wellness components that match the location and cater to what the guests are looking for. So it will remain a great opportunity for many years to come. And I think more than a spa becoming your lifestyle, it’s how do we extend it to your day-to-day life. I think it’s not looking at the location and the spa facility itself, but extending beyond your resort or your location.
How do you collect guests information such as health condition, diet and exercises and hobbies, in order to provide better wellness service and follow up?
Their profile is very diverse from singles, couples and multigenerational families on the leisure side to senior corporate executive level from different fields on the business side.
Once a guest comes to spa, he fills out a Spa registration form. These forms are similar in all Aman properties, although there may be differences due to different legislation, spa menu etc. All the information from this form is then either entered into the software used for booking management or is kept as a hard copy in the archive and put into a file where guest information is stored, of course depending on the property. Properties that conduct Wellness Immersions or any sort of wellness programs and packages have more detailed questionnaires that are also archived.
In China, social media and 5G developments are bringing major changes to people’s lifestyles. How do you see the modern interactive experience affecting the guest experience, or affecting the marketing promotion approach of AMAN in China?
Social Media and 5G are well established in China, it has become a way of life for the Chinese consumer. This is critical for businesses to create a digital experience to connect and engage their clients in real time. Last year, Aman China has enhanced its e-platform to promote products and services, and the result has been a significant revenue increase in return.
What new technologies is AMAN using in its current wellness service operations?
Aman launched SVA supplements last year, a range of unique natural Chinese Herbal Formulas and Micronutrient Supplements. The collection provides varying health benefits, and can be easily integrated into a daily wellness routine, sustaining immune strength.
For example, for Amanpuri Wellness Center in Thailand, we provide integrated lifestyle medical service, a combination of traditional Chinese medicine and conventional lifestyle medical. Comprehensive blood test and Wellness DNA test, 3D body scanning, IVs & Vitamin shots (International protocol), Ozon IV, sport & physical science, electric & magnetic science, rejuvenation & beauty science machines, as well as colonics. Guest come once a year for self-discipline or wellness immersive program.
We are going to introduce the most advance technologies for Aman NY Spa which will open this year, we will offer optimization program, as well as integrate lifestyle medical services.
During the post coronavirus era, it seems that all domestic resorts and top hotels are always fully booked. This seems to encourage the faster development of more top resorts across China. Is that correct?
When we look at the market in China in terms of hotels, I think we have to remind ourselves that the increase in wealth in China has been quite substantial. The From Aman perspective, we want to roll with the Chinese market, but we want to do it with our own Aman values and our philosophy. So we won’t add another 10 units in 5 to 10 years’ time. It would be a longer process. From the Aman side, it is important to find the right partners with the right value system and form good partnerships.