Meet our Wellness Hospitality Business Manager - Mr. Hong Nguyen
Hong plays a pivotal role in connecting project owners with pioneering wellness concepts
How would you describe your role as the primary link between owners and Luminary Wellness?
I am the bridge between project owners and Luminary Wellness, ensuring they have clarity on our ideas and concepts, and that we are aware of their expectations. This way, both sides are able to meet one another and are aligned in direction. I coordinate the process between the owner and the many teams involved in each project, from legal to contractors, design and construction. I connect and facilitate each team to work together in a harmonious, productive way. It’s about building relationships and remaining flexible with each case, from the initial concept brief to implementation.
Why should wellness be a priority for post-pandemic projects?
At the height of Covid, people experienced stress and lost balance in life, financially and also in regards to health, and mental and physical well-being. They now seek travel to transform, rather than just discovering a new place. They are looking for a philosophy they can apply to their daily lives. Hospitality investors have the opportunity to create new, unique concepts that provide guests with the balance and sustainability they desire. Traditional hospitality has not adequately met the increasing demand for wellness tourism in Vietnam.
My experience at Fusion Maia (now rebranded to TIA Wellness resort), the pioneers of the all-spa inclusive concept, proved that there was strong client demand. It seemed risky to introduce a new wellness philosophy encompassing the spa, F&B offerings, activities and reiki, but we know and understand the Vietnamese market. Gradually people became aware of the benefits of therapies, yoga, energy healing and more, which were previously foreign concepts in daily life in Vietnam.
How has your personal approach to wellness evolved throughout your career?
A sustainable lifestyle allows us to balance our needs with those of the wider environment. Establishing practices today can enrich our lives and those of the next generation. In each project we raise awareness not only for guests but within local communities, to encourage these practices in daily life. We trust that together, we will make a valuable impact on the world. As the Vietnamese proverb goes, “Góp gió thành bão” which means ‘Collect winds to create a storm’.
What are some of the main challenges you would recommend that owners be aware of?
Currently, wellness is fairly new in the Vietnamese market, so it’s understandable that owners are concerned about how it will be received. Once there is greater awareness, the next step is linking everything together — not just in terms of a stay, but as an experience. It’s really a new lifestyle, and for it to be ongoing, everything needs to be in harmony, from the design right through to activities and F&B.
We are responsible for sharing our hotel operations knowledge with owners and managing their expectations on the fast pace of project timelines. While we can guide them on the specific steps to follow, at the same time it’s not a traditional approach because we are wellness pioneers. We pave the way forward so that owners learn how to create a new lifestyle. Trust is very important so that consultants such as Luminary Wellness can be empowered to make decisions, and ensure we are heading in the right direction.
What are some key traits you have observed in successful project owners?
They are open-minded and receptive to new concepts. Especially in Vietnam, the future of hospitality is not about taking the standard approach, but rather placing trust in wellness experts to guide them through the process.
The most successful owners understand the need for harmony of the concept direction in design, activities and training programmes. To deliver a unique experience, each element cannot work independently — they need to be combined and integrated.
Based on your experience, which project elements require the most improvement?
As wellness is fairly new in Vietnam, it is commonly applied to just one or two sectors of a project, when actually it needs to flow throughout each. Some of our offerings, like reiki and energy healing, are really different from conventional activities. In the long term, the ROI can be measured both financially, and also in terms of benefit to and development of the community.
It’s important that owners understand wellness. Once they are onboard, a staff training programme needs to be implemented, so they are able to put wellness into practice in their own lives, both personally, and professionally in daily operations.
Wellness has to be a way of life for the team too, for it to be authentic. Working in this industry also impacted my own life, and encouraged me to embrace a vegetarian diet, meditation and yoga to balance mind and body.
For me, wellness is a lifestyle where people can find balance in every aspect of their lives: work, family and social relations.
What is unique about Luminary Wellness’ approach compared to other consultants?
Manpower, firstly, as all Luminary Wellness staff have hospitality backgrounds and experience in renowned four or five-star resorts both in Vietnam and internationally. Our clear project vision, with each team member an expert in their field, are blended seamlessly to bring a concept to life.
Our unique approach can be seen in our pioneering concept that covers A-Z in terms of offerings being matched with owner expectations. At Luminary Wellness, we co-create with our project partners whether owner, architects, interior designers to ensure all are aligned in concept and vision.
We empower general managers and teams with our training programmes so they can continue to offer the same level of wellness. Meanwhile owners can opt for full-service management, or operate independently with quality assurance service support.
Luminary Wellness stands out from other consultants by offering returns for both owners and the wider community through introducing a new lifestyle centred around well-being.
What do you feel makes a good wellness-focused hospitality leader?
I am lucky to have a balanced nature — that’s why I’m always smiling. My philosophy is that every problem has a solution. I keep calm. Sometimes it means creating distance if necessary and coming back with a clear mind. I work with passion and find balance by implementing wellness in my own life.
Good managers manage themselves first. We can only manage others if we do this. Leadership is about empowering people, and inspiring them to work for passion instead of money. Encouraging them to develop themselves, and find out what their interests are, will help them overcome work challenges. I really like the leadership philosophy in the book The Leader Who Had No Title by Robin Sharma where all the people can learn that “regardless of what you do within your organisation and the current circumstances of your life, the single most important fact is that you have the power to show leadership. Wherever you are in your career or life, you should always play to your peak abilities”.
What are your top 3 tips for owners to ensure project concepts come to life seamlessly?
Work closely with the consultant to get a clear vision of what a project needs to entail. This concept will impact all areas of the property from design to operations. Make this a priority and take time on this step as it is the foundation of the ‘house’, without which the rest of the project will not be secure nor have clear direction. This step also saves costs and errors later, and brings a clear brand story harmoniously to life in the project.
Plan for a synchronised investment. This includes not only the project infrastructure and facilities, but also operational needs to deliver a quality wellness hospitality product relating to human development, alongside sales and marketing strategies.
Commit to an unwavering belief in the concept and consultant. This requires trust in the consultants’ hospitality and wellness expertise to make it happen. Remain open to new ideas, and ensure the full project teams follow the flow and needs of the wellness hospitality experts (as ultimately the purpose is for the resort to be in operation, sell well, deliver a unique guest experience and create ROI).