Interview Seif Hamdy, General Manager Intercontinental Danang
How one luxury hotel is reinventing its wellness offering
Wellness has become an integral part of any resort hotel. We talk to Seif Hamdy, General Manager of the InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort in Vietnam to find out how he keeps his hotel on trend in order to cater for today’s sophisticated traveler.
Seif Hamdy has been part of the InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort family and success since 2015 and the General Manager of the resort since 2019. Previously he worked at some of the finest properties around the globe: eight years in Ritz Carlton, two years with Soneva Gili Maldives and four years with Raffles Singapore. He studied Executive Leadership in Cornell University, and currently is studying with EHL to obtain an MBA. He believes that “Academic Learning is a continuous life journey that should never stop”. His aim is to continue the team’s winning ways, service excellence whilst fostering an environment of healthy camaraderie and positivity.
Mr Hamdy, why is the InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort the place to stay?
Our resort has many unique selling points including a beautiful private beach in a rain-forested nature preserve, just 20 minutes from Danang city yet it seems like a million miles away. We also have stylish and inventive architecture designed by Bill Bensley and Michelin-star chef, Pierre Gagnaire, at the helm of our French restaurant, La Maison 1888. Our accommodation offers a collection of residential styled villas with their own swimming pools for customers wanting the ultimate in privacy, each served by a dedicated Villa Host. Above all, we offer genuine and heartfelt Vietnamese hospitality.
How important is it for your hotel to incorporate wellness experiences?
Wellness is in the DNA of our resort, located as it is in a quiet natural setting and with fresh sea breezes and sparkling sunshine. Our plan is to expand and elevate our wellness offering with the re-concepting of our spa, as well as introducing both complimentary and paid programs and weekend retreats organised by our new Wellness Director. This will allow us to better attract guests who are looking for wellbeing experiences while travelling and, in addition, will allow us to leverage traditionally slow times of the year, when we will be creating compelling new reasons for our guests to come and visit with an extended length of stay.
You are currently upgrading some of your facilities, what are these and when will they be completed?
We have just completed our new fitness centre and will shortly be opening our new Club Lounge for our Club Intercontinental guests. We are also in the process of converting previous bedroom types into luxe 4 bedroom Family Villas complete with private pools and expanding our swimming pool. In the first quarter of 2023 we will have a re-concepted beach restaurant and a new Japanese restaurant.
You have worked with visionary architect, Bill Bensley. Can you tell us a little bit about his approach of using design to stimulate the senses and how this has been realised within the hotel?
Bill incorporated traditional architecture and design elements from Vietnamese temples, palaces and private residences into the design of our resort. He used a basic colour palette of black and white (aka Asian yin and yang), then animated each space with signature contemporary colours. The result is both soothing and eye-catching. He wanted to minimise the disruption of the natural setting so our resort is built around natural features, conserving as many original trees as possible and creating lush landscapes using native species. Bill also created many “Instagram moments” throughout the resort even though Instagram did not exist when he did the design!
How are you working with Raison d’Etre and how important is the wellness consultancy in helping you achieve your spa and wellness goals?
We are working with Raison d’Etre in order to reinvent our wellness offering and introduce a unique concept that will resonate with today’s luxury traveller. They are leading in all areas and our team is aligning with their recommendations and suggestions.
What type of spa and wellness experiences do you offer, and which are most in demand by your guests?
Currently we offer a range of relaxation treatments and packages, and the architecture and design of our spa is restful and upscale. Massages are by far the most popular treatments.
Do you think it’s important to keep innovating when developing your wellness experiences?
It’s vital that we remain one step ahead. Today’s traveler is sophisticated and has a lot of choice when it comes to spa and wellbeing. We need to stay on top of trends, understand what is offered at leading resorts and spas around the world, and be creative. This is an important element of our partnership with Raison d’Etre so that we can provide an appealing, differentiating and effective wellness experience.
How does the environment and sustainability fit into your development plans?
We are stewards of the natural environment around us and focus on protecting the wildlife in and around our resort property, most notably the endangered red-shanked douc langur. We spend considerable time educating our staff, guests and suppliers on environmentally sound behaviours and practices. We are opening our own water bottling plant this year in order to eliminate all plastic water bottles from the resort and we have an aggressive program to reduce energy usage and waste, which is monitored and scored by our corporate office with monthly KPIs.
What would your advice be to other hotels looking to expand their wellness facilities?
Make sure you understand your customer, what they are looking for and what is currently out there in the market. Work with a reputable spa consultant to develop the program and be prepared to introduce and invest in this over time. It is not a “one time” activity.
What are your future plans for the hotel that guests can look forward to?
Our new concept spa by Raison d’Etre, newly upgraded villas and in-room amenities and a new Club InterContinental Lounge complete with show-kitchen, show-bar and a wonderful view over the holistic mountain and bay. In addition, we will continue to deliver a consistently high service of excellence throughout our resort.