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Marriott rolls out Quan spa concept

Marriott hotels is making preparations to roll out its Quan spa concept worldwide and is currently deciding which of its Middle East properties will house the brand.

Marriott hotels is making preparations to roll out its Quan spa concept worldwide and is currently deciding which of its Middle East properties will house the brand.

The international hotel group, which until recently, outsourced its hotel spa operations to brands such as Six Senses and Mandara, has already developed new Marriott Quan spas at three properties – Renaissance Koh Samui Resort & Spa, Sanya Marriott Resort & Spa, Hainan, China, and JW Marriott Hotel Mumbai – and more are planned in the Middle East and Asia Pacific region.

A Quan spa will be a key feature of the 323-room Renaissance Bahrain Amwaj Islands, due to open in 2008, and others are planned for upcoming properties in Fiji, Bali, Seoul, Shanghai, and possibly Ajman.

Rhett Pickering, director of spa operations & development, Marriott, who is based in Hong Kong, but is now responsible for rolling out Quan in both Asia Pacific and the Middle East, recently took a trip to the GCC to identify which of the Marriott properties had potential.

“We are looking at all new developments and if the owners are looking to open a spa, then we will put our case forward for our concept,” he said.

“What I am doing at the moment is looking to places like Jordan, Bahrain and Dubai where we have properties and looking at what concept would fit. I am here to do some research. In Asia Pacific, for example, all of our spas have Vichy showers, but this might not be applicable to the Middle Eastern market. Maybe here we use hammams.”

Pickering said the spas would be “localised in terms of design”.

“We want cultural references in our spas, but we don’t want to be kitch,” he added.

He said spa feasibility studies were currently being undertaken at Amman Marriott Hotel, Jordan Valley Marriott Resort & Spa, Petra Marriott Hotel and JW Marriott Hotel Dubai.

Pickering also noted that while markets such as Dubai offered a wide range of treatments, there was “huge untapped potential to look at local healing traditions”.

Quan, which means source of pure water in Chinese, is a principle Pickering has adopted at every level, from design principles to treatments.

Pickering is also keen to “de-feminise” Marriott spas so that they appeal to both men and women, and promises simplified spa menus that don’t feature fads and that categorise treatments according to their purpose; relaxation, local treatments, etc. Products used depend on the market and no Quan brand is planned as yet.

And, although Pickering is a former employee at renowned Thai wellness centre, Chiva-Som, he will not be adopting this model for Quan.

“The danger is to see a success story like Chiva-Som and try to develop that concept. Chiva-Som is successful because it is so fantastically integrated. You just can’t borrow one part and expect it to be successful,” he said. “We are very clear about what we do at Marriott; we are not a wellness retreat, we are about luxury and relaxation.”

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