Welcome to another issue of our Labbrand Spotlight from Singapore! We are thrilled to bring you our unique perspectives from the world of Branding and Innovation, sharing what we are inspired by and takeaways from our favourite reads and best-case examples.
When people go on holidays, wellness is without a doubt their priority. With stresses coming from the recent pandemic, and thankfully the growing conversation around physical and mental wellbeing, hospitality brands are urged to embrace wellness on another level and offer guests with exceptional wellness journeys of introspective, immersive, and transformative experiences.
In this issue, we examine the hospitality industry through the lens of wellness – looking more closely at not only the types of wellness programs hoteliers offer, but more importantly on how they are approaching holistic wellbeing.
Understanding oneself requires an immense amount of introspection and it is also the starting point of self-care practice. Sometimes a third-party or expert point of view is needed to place the thoughts and anxieties under a wider context, to make sense of the head space and to process them with guidance. Increasingly, more people are fighting against this stigma and actively seeking professional help in order to understand themselves better and to achieve well-being.
Many guests go on holidays with an intention of seeking self-improvement and resolving their worries as part of their larger holiday agenda, and brands are responding with wellness experiences beyond the usual programmes. From in-house professional counselling, to curated retreats, to accessible therapist sessions, hospitality brands nowadays are strengthening their activation programmes, creating exceptional brand experience and assets via partnerships, and venturing a more robust wellness brand culture.
In their 18-week Asaya x Hybrid 360 programme, Asaya Hong Kong by Rosewood Hong Kong hosted a selection of wellness workshops guided by credited practitioners. One of the instructors, Kit Shum is the hotel’s resident behavioural health expert, who holds multiple degrees in behavioural health, expressive art therapy and education. She helps guests to unveil deeper issues through expressive art therapy, hypnotherapy, and positive psychology; and she is experienced in supporting guests with their mental health issues, trauma, substance abuse, and the likes. By bringing in experts like Shum to the wellness experience, the guests can take the experts’ informative and contextual knowledge-base to introspectively address and process the issues with clarity.
Rosewood Asaya Hong Kong extends beyond the realm of common wellness practices such as spas, massages, and yoga classes to bring experts in industry in-house, offering guests therapy-like coaching from those with a strong academic calibre. Not only do these renowned practitioners and coaches boost the brand’s authenticity in advocating wellness, but they also act as credible brand ambassadors that represent and speak for the brand within the space.
Grand Hyatt Singapore had teamed up with the homegrown activewear brand KYDRA PTE LTD. in a retreat staycation experience filled with many guided wellness activities. The wellness experience was curated by a cluster of local wellness experts, including local celebrity nutritionist Charlotte Mei teaching nutritional cooking class, hotel’s then spa director and wellbeing council Karu Nanithi guiding meditation sessions, and KYDRA activewear being worn for morning workouts. These wellness programmes are designed for guests to experience holistic wellness through the perspectives of experts, so they can better understand their body and mind to realise the three core pillars of the staycation retreat: Feel, Fuel, Function.
Hospitality brands can join forces with multiple industry experts together to curate wellness that is holistic, themed and intention-filled. Co-branding with adjacent categories, industry experts will not only uplift the brand experience but also create a desirable destination that elevates brand credibility and equity.
As part of their effort to restore everyone to the pre-pandemic vitality, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants partners with Talkspace, a virtual behavioural health platform, to provide mental health sessions led by licensed therapists for its guests and employees. The brand partnership offers up to 1000 free video therapy sessions to its guests, and a yearlong Talkspace subscription to its eligible employees. One of Kimpton’s core experience ethos is Stay Human – celebrating diverse perspectives and real stories –and this partnership reflects just that. By providing the resources and convenient access of mental health support, Kimpton reduced and eliminated the stigma associated with seeking help, and thus is a step forward in building a healthy wellbeing brand culture from inside out.
Through this brand partnership, it demonstrates how the Kimpton brand takes mental wellbeing seriously as it transcends from the corporate culture to guest experience, serving as an exemplary employer brand convention as well as a boost for customer loyalty. By bringing meaningful and substantial wellness support that is accessible to its internal and external stakeholders alike, the brand stays true to its brand value to show commitment and fully celebrates wellbeing as their brand culture.
Immersive wellness seeks to shift the attention to the surrounding environment, encouraging people to be present with their inner-selves, and potentially providing them with a different perspective and peacefulness. When most people live in the city, working with technology, and constantly being held productivity-hostage in high-stress, fast-paced environments, immersing in relaxing environments is essential for people to embrace Slow Living, to break from routine anxieties and to seek a sanctuary for reconnection.
Immersive wellness is usually built in brands’ activation programmes, whether it is from maximising its natural surroundings, or providing guests with alternative retreat environments. But more importantly, it is central to brands’ positioning and culture, acting as lifelong wellness partners in the guests’ stress-release and inner-peace journey.
Hotel L’Alpaga is one of the many unique hotel destinations by Beaumier. The brand aims to create ‘special moments’ at ‘special places’, emphasising on creating unique experience journey that are enriched by the surrounding landscape for ‘feeling well’. L’Alpaga’s immersive wellness is more active and energetic – adding sports as part of their wellness and signature experiences, tagging the experiences as ‘live an intense experience’ or ‘live an unforgettable experience’. Guests can enjoy hot tubs and wood-fired sauna outdoor while looking out over Mont Blanc to immerse in ultimate relaxation and fuel back to equilibrium.
As a brand within the Beaumier portfolio, L’Alpaga’s immersive wellness is twofold – it is both energising and serene when it comes to connecting with nature and release stress. The signature brand experiences resonate with its core positioning that a ‘singular destination enriched by the landscapes and places’ can ‘awake emotions and create memories to keep’.
The cabins at Unplugged are off-the-grid, designed for switching off, and built for authentic connections. Guests can book a 3-nights digital detox where they lock away their smartphones in a padlock and instead be provided with an old Nokia for emergencies, an instant camera, a paper map, and board games. They can truly ‘unplug’ from digital clouds and social media to reconnect with their inner peace and others again. It compels the guests to immerse and build connection with nature, to explore the wilderness, and to simply relax and recharge, which in turn will boost their creativity, improve their moods and general health.
As digital detox is its key objective, Unplugged. not only reflects its core brand identity and positioning in its brand name, but the brand also solidified its purpose and mission in wellness across every brand touchpoint – through the immersive landscape and alternative gadgets that create a unique and memorable brand experience.
Hoshinoya Tokyo, by Hoshino Resort Co., Ltd. incorporates traditional Japanese elements in modern settings, in this case, it brings the traditional Japanese ryokan into the heart of Tokyo. The hotel, situated within a short walk from Tokyo station and the Imperial Palace, offers guests an exclusive and intimate sanctuary from the bustling Tokyo metropolis. Once the guests enter the ryokan, they are struck by the relaxing sensorial ambience, vastly different from the financial hub outside. They are greeted by staff dressed in kimono, and offering experiences from Gagaku performance, morning Kenjutsu practice, and Edo period festivals. The height of the wellness immersion arrives at its rooftop hot spring, surrounded by high walls, providing guests the secluded sanctuary to unwind and release stress in the centre of Tokyo.
From the hotel location, its designs, to the signature guest experiences, they all reflect the brand’s core positioning by offering “exclusive pleasures, defined by authenticity, in the heart of the city”. The brand differentiates itself from either end of the competition: the ryokan hot springs in the rest of Japan, and urban luxury hotels in Tokyo. Its unique brand experience strategy and offers grant guests an unforgettable Japanese wellness experience.
Creative expression has always been therapeutic in cultivating wellness because it requires a level of self-exploration and individual expression. It provides an outlet to unveil deep thoughts, transform anxieties and stress into a work of art. It is a healing practice that allows people to focus and engage with their senses, to nurture calmness and imagination, to streamline anxieties and reshape them into something else.
Many hospitality brands embed art as part of or extension of their wellness-programs. From art therapist-led painting workshops, guided journaling, to cooking classes and flower arrangement workshops, hotel brands incorporate these additional experience touchpoints as their signature wellness offerings, where guests learn more about themselves through creative transformation.
Blackberry Mountain , a wellness-focused sister brand of the luxury hotel and resort Blackberry Farm, offers an abundance of creative wellness programmes that fulfils the guests’ creative craves, ranging from outdoor painting, guided journaling, tile work, to textile art, coil building, rafu firing, pottery, and mandala stone painting. These sessions usually start with descriptive meditation and prompts to set intentions. The goal is to shift the focus from the product outcome to the experience itself. Guests can bring their artworks home to prolong this exploratory experience and hence extend their wellness journey with the brand.
Blackberry Mountain not only provides a solid foundation as a wellness retreat brand, but its offerings are also distinctive from its Blackberry Farm sister counterpart. It shows the Blackberry family brand acknowledges the importance of wellness to create a separate brand whose role is solely to amplify its wellness brand mission. It brings a more robust brand architecture to the Blackberry family brand as well as a holistic brand offering.
In addition to its conventional wellness programmes, Royal Mansour Marrakech provides 4 Signature Workshops as their key offerings, including art therapy, cooking and patisserie workshop, and mixology workshop. These workshops aim to relieve stress and encourage self-reflection and emotional freedom through learning a new skill, whether it be exploring the pleasure of taste, the exquisite and novel texture, or mixing flavours and colour expressions. Guests here can search for a deeper connection with self, be inspired by the learning process as well as marvel at their own creative achievements.
Royal Mansour Marrakech brand aims to offer guests a luxurious and sensual experience; its Signature Workshops reflect its core positioning and enhance its brand equity, by centering creative wellness through the delicacy of culinary, mixology and artistic expressions.
Longevity Alvor by Longevity Wellness Worldwide is a health and wellness-centred hotel brand in Portugal. With a focus on ‘art as wellness’, it partnered with local art gallery Lady in Red to set up a series of rotating exhibitions that showcase local, national and international artists. These artistic expressions and pieces were incorporated throughout the hotel’s interior design, using space, lighting, and colour tones to evoke a sense of balance, harmony, and serene wellness. The visual expression encourages guests to form a healthy and transcendental connection between the artwork and their self.
Longevity Alvor brand’s partnership with local art gallery refrained from pure activation; it infuses art as wellness into the hotel as a backdrop; it creates a consistent and holistic brand experience that uplifts guests at every touchpoint.
Looking forward into the future of wellness in hospitality, brands must evolve with the wellness demand of the time. Majority of brands already adopt general and recreational wellness programs in their offerings, yet there is still a need to monitor other forms of wellness to constantly stay ahead, such as the emerging medical wellness trend that provides in-house clinical solutions. Nevertheless, wellness will remain central to hospitality brands, and it is up to these brands on how they want to innovate differently when approaching and engaging wellness.
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