The Group Director of Spa for the internationally acclaimed luxury spa division of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, Jeremy McCarthy oversees 44 world-class spa projects that are open or under development worldwide. I caught up with him to talk mission, vision, and Mayo Clinic.
What is Mandarin Oriental’s vision and mission behind spa?
Our mission is to deliver legendary spa experiences that are based on a philosophy of authentic and holistic wellness, and draw upon the healing traditions of our Oriental heritage.
What does spa mean to you? What do you think it means to the majority of your guests?
Spa is a place for rest, recovery, and self-healing. Spas are widely known as places for physical pampering, but I think increasingly, our guests see spa as a therapeutic place to rest the body and the mind. In a world where we are always connected, always processing information, and busier than ever before, spas are a place to go to slow down, experience a moment of mindfulness, and reconnect with important goals and values.
. . . spas are places to go to slow down, experience a moment of mindfulness, and reconnect with important goals and values . . .
What does wellness mean to you? What do you think it means to the majority of your guests?
Wellness is a proactive approach to human health. Many of our health systems have had more of a deficit model focused on illness, meaning we wait until there is a problem or disease and then we attempt to fix it. The wellness model, on the other hand, means attempting to maximize health, performance, vitality, etc. before or regardless of any problem that needs to be fixed. For most of our guests, wellness means practicing certain lifestyle choices that lead them to feel better, look better and perform better as they move through their life span.
What is the most innovative thing you’ve introduced to Mandarin Oriental spas?
We are very focused on innovation right now. We consider ourselves to be leaders in hospitality wellness, but the pace of change is so fast that we can’t really afford to sit still. We are looking at every new project that we open as an innovation lab where we can test out new ideas. Some of the recent innovations that we are very excited about include:
•Our “Silent Night” event which will be a form of silent retreat to be offered at the Spas at Mandarin Oriental worldwide. We are inviting our guests to enjoy the spa in silence (no music, no talking,) which is quite unprecedented and very experimental but we are curious to see how it resonates with people.
•A new Spa Studio concept that we will be launching next year at the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok. The Spa Studio features express beauty and grooming services for men and women and is a bit more high-tech than our holistic spa in Bangkok.
•In January we will launch a new collaboration with Mayo Clinic to deliver wellness assessments, education, treatments, and workshops for guests of our spectacular resort at Mandarin Oriental Bodrum.
Tell us about your partnership with the Mayo Clinic. How and why did it come about, and how can it really benefit the spa guest?
I had been talking to representatives at the Mayo Clinic for some time about the potential synergies between hospitality and health care. Mayo Clinic is widely recognized not only for their medical expertise, but for their wellness-oriented health information and programming designed to guide people towards a healthy lifestyle. They recognize that people don’t want to wait until they are sick to start thinking about their health, and we saw that our guests were thinking more about wellness when they travel.
The Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program is a comprehensive and immersive wellness experience that was developed on the Mayo Clinic campus in Rochester, Minnesota. Bringing this kind of programming to the beautiful resort destination of Bodrum, and integrating it with the other recreational and holistic wellness offerings that we already offer through our spa makes Mandarin Oriental Bodrum one of the premier wellness destinations in that part of the world.
Guests benefit by having a true retreat experience that allows them to step away from the hustle and bustle of their everyday life to spend a few days focused on their own personal wellness. In a typical five-day program, guests experience a series of health, fitness, postural, and lifestyle assessments followed by expert guidance and research-driven lifestyle solutions around physical activity, healthy nutrition, and psychological resiliency delivered by Mayo Clinic experts.