News for the Hospitality Executive
|By Natalie Suwanprakorn, Bangkok Post, Thailand
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Mar. 13--The fast expanding spa businesses in Thailand will reach a saturation point as early as 2005, a senior executive of an international spa operator warned yesterday.
"Three to five years from now every [hotel] property in Thailand will have a spa and some will have to fall out from the competition," said Anna Keen, Southeast Asia spa manager for Six Senses Spas.
According to Ms Keen, around half of all five-star hotels located in Thailand were already fitted with high-end spas and many other hotels were in the process of equipping their properties with spa facilities.
A newcomer to Thailand, but not to Southeast Asia, the decade-old hotel and resort management group made its local debut in December with the Evason Resort Phuket, a 1.35-billion-baht project. The Evason Resort Hua Hin opened this January.
Six Senses, formerly Soneva Fushi, operates hotels and resorts in Southeast Asia under three brands -- Soneva, Evason and Pavilion. Evason is the company's Thailand brand name.
"There's huge potential for the spa business in Thailand. It fits into the image of what people think of Thailand," said Six Senses Spa division managing director Bernhard Bohnenberger.
However, he stressed that Thailand needed health regulatory bodies to protect spa-goers from self-proclaimed spas that "train their staff for just a couple of weeks and then set them loose on their guests".
Mr Bohnenberger said that Six Senses Spas, established in 1995, also planned Evason properties on Ko Samui and Ko Phangan in Surat Thani. The Evason Hideaway on Ko Samui is set for completion in October 2003, while the Ko Phangan property is still under negotiation.
Meanwhile, the hotel management division of Six Senses Spa is in talks with other hotel owners in Phuket, Vietnam, Singapore and Hong Kong who want to add luxury spas.
Mr Bohnenberger said that the company received 65-70 percent of overall revenues that each contracted hotel earned from its spa, which covered overhead costs from staff salaries to work permits.
The investment in each spa, including construction and equipment, was 20-25 million baht, he said.
Because Six Senses aimed to open a maximum of only four resorts a year, split between its own Evasons and other hotels, Mr Bohnenberger said the company was being extremely selective about prospective partners.
"Six Senses is investing in Thailand now, because we want to benefit from the long-term business we are sure to have once there's more awareness of the Six Senses brand," said Ms Keen, who moved to the company from managing the world-renowned Chiva-Som health resort in Hua Hin.
Currently the company aims to draw in 15 percent of the total guests at hotels with a Six Senses Spa, but Ms Keen says that is conservative, claiming that the spa will be able to double, or even triple that ratio within another five years.
"Today it's the resort that sells spa services. But I want to shift that. My idea is to make Six Senses Spa a name that can sell resorts. I want people to choose to stay in a resort branded with a Six Senses Spa," she said.
Six Senses' five star spa resorts have carved out a niche in the market with a select clientele and are located in the Maldives, Vietnam, Bali and Thailand.
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(c) 2002, Bangkok Post, Thailand. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.