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NATIONALITY: Malaysian
PROGRAM: BS in Hospitality and Tourism Management
YEAR OF GRADUATION: 2000
COMPANY: Mandarin Oriental Doha
JOB TITLE: Senior Director of Spa & Wellness

Spa and wellness is one of the fastest-growing areas of hospitality. Not only it is becoming a pivotal part of most hotels, it is also something many people incorporate into their daily lives. Who better to offer some expertise on the subject than Lillian Cheam, Senior Director of Spa and Wellness at Mandarin Oriental, Doha?

“Spa and wellness is one of the fastest-growing industries at the moment across the regions, including America, Europe and Asia,” Lillian says. She feels that one of the reasons it has become such a prominent part of hospitality is due to the experience it gives to guests. “Sometimes, when people think of spas, they only think of massages,” she says. “But spas and wellness are more than just that – they are all about ensuring you take care of yourself at work and at home. When you go for a meal at a restaurant, you eat and then you leave. But when you come to a spa, it’s a lifestyle experience.”

Tradition and heritage

Lillian has worked in spa and wellness since 2003, after initially taking six months off to learn all about the industry. Latest trends in spa and wellness in the hotel industry include digital detoxing, sleeping well, organic beauty products, self-care/bubble baths, collagen and gut health, wellness practices (meditation, mindfulness, breathwork) and ‘unplug’ retreats.

In order to stay abreast of the latest developments, Lillian is involved in a number of activities outside of work. “I am part of the Global Wellness Institute,” she says. “I am also a mentor for people growing to either become a spa manager or director.” She believes Mandarin Oriental offers something different and unique. “We offer five elements: nourishment, movement, stillness, connections and wellbeing,” she says. “They come from our five Chinese traditional elements: wood, earth, fire, water and metal.”

Alongside that, Mandarin Oriental also ensures it instils local heritage. “Here at Doha, for example, we incorporate a programme called the harmony of pearls,” she explains. “It pays homage to the days when Qatar focused on the pearl industry.”

Study / life balance

Lillian says it’s important for students to get a healthy balance. “Eating is very important – try to avoid processed food,” she advises. “What you eat will have a massive effect on your wellbeing. Getting a balance between your studies and life is difficult, but as a student you need to find it and ensure you avoid foods that aren’t good for you.”

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About the author

Glion Institute of Higher Education
Glion Institute of Higher Education is a private Swiss institution offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees in hospitality, luxury and event management to an international student body across three campuses in Switzerland and London, UK.
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