Six Senses’ long term success – an exclusive interview with Anna Bjurstam, Vice President Spa

How important have Spas become for a luxury hotel, nowadays? What percentage of your global revenue comes from Spas?

For luxury hotels in general, I cannot say that we find many hotels in this segment building a hotel without a spa component. For Six Senses, it is one of our most important features and we do not settle with a small amenity spa, our guests is looking for a holistic spa experience with both more pampering and sensory experience as well as in depth therapeutic therapies and programmes.

In our hotels between 5-10% of our revenue is from  spas.

For the properties your company operates under a third party management agreement, how challenging is it for developers to understand the investment required by a Spa?

Actually not that difficult, they reason they have specifically asked for a Six Senses spa is  because they want one of the best spa brands in the world and they are prepared to invest in it. We make this very clear from the beginning and I believe that we turn away more spa opportunities and the ones we accept, as it has to comply with our brand standards.

What is your approach for each of your luxury hotel brands when it comes to Spas? Do hotels have the liberty, individually, to opt for a third party operator and/or a mono-brand options for the Spa?

It depends on each hotel operator; at times it is the hotel operator and other times it is the owner who decided that a Six Senses spa in their hotel. When it comes to our own hotels, we naturally only offer Six Senses spa brand.

Which of your properties provides the most comprehensive Spa offering?

That is probably Shark Village in Doha, Qatar. The spa has 700 members, 20+ treatment rooms and 50+ staff and many local and Visiting Practitioners that can offer our guests and members in depth wellness experiences.

Do you have preferred Spa brand(s) you collaborate, internationally, at a chain level? Do you feature organic products in your Spas?

We have several preferred spa brands that we work with, due to licensing challenges we have quite a few but the brands that we work with the most is our own Six Senses product line, Amala, Anika and Subtle Energies . We do feature organic products in our spas, not all of them due to various reasons but this will change in the near future.

How important is it for your Spas to provide guests with a sense of place by introducing local products/treatments or even décor elements?

It is very important for us, one of our core values is about being in tune with local fabric and we always want to offer our guests a local experience and we call these treatments “locally inspired” in our menus. Very often the interior design reflects the place it is in.

What are the most popular Spa services/packages requested by your guests regardless of location city or resort?

Holistic Massage is our  number one requested treatment.

From your research and feedback from guests, what are the goals they seek to achieve through a Spa experience? i.e. instant effects (skin related treatments), establish a healthy and balanced lifestyle etc.

It differs extensively, and this is why we provide a layered experience. We call it “from nail change to life change” and we want to provide an amazing sensory and relaxing experience for the guest who likes that, as well as an in depth life changing programs for those that are interested in this. What we see is that Six Senses Spas are already perceived as a pioneering spa brand and thus have the trust from the guests to choose more transformational experiences and we find a higher percentage than industry average in more advanced and explorative treatments and programs.

Anna Bjurstam, VP Spa at Six Senses

On a more private note, here are Anna’s favourites

What are your three top tips for travel? 

When going to another time zone, set your watch (if you have one) and program your brain when you get on the plane of the time zone you are going to, this way you program your body to not be jet lagged. 2. No naps during the day! And get a massage or workout to get circulation going when you land. 3. Treat yourself to something special (chocolate, shopping, a glass of wine, a massage), which will make traveling enjoyable.

What is your favorite book? 

There are so many….. I have just read Biology of Belief which was very good, and I also loved Steve Jobs’ biography, which was very inspiring.

What is your #1 beauty secret? 

Natural products (chemicals age cells faster).

Quote to live by.

“If I had 8 hours to chop down a tree I would start with sharpening my ax for 6 hours” by Abraham Lincoln.

Who is your mentor? 

I am in between personal mentors at the moment, but will sign up with Anders Erikson (very good Swedish one). I am also a fan of Robin Sharma and try to read or listen to something from him at least a couple of times a week.

Words of advice for young women starting their careers today

Also, give yourself time to think and to polish your strategy. Don’t focus on doing things right, but rather on doing the right things. And never write anything on e-mail that you do not want to have on the first page of the daily newspaper (i.e. be careful with emails!).

Six Senses, Koh Samui Spa