The new Athenaeum Spa, Corinthia Palace, has been re-engineered, regenerated and revitalized into a novel experience. In anticipation of the official opening, Insider plus brings you an exclusive interview with the Spa’s new Director, Ms Susanne Fisch.
- Ms Fisch, can you say a few words about your background?
I started my career in hospitality in 2003, where I gained experience in various departments throughout the hotel operation from Kitchen to Housekeeping. After working in rooms division for several years, I continued my education in the USA and subsequently obtained my bachelor’s degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management in Switzerland. This became a turning point in my career, as I had the opportunity to join Six Senses Resort and Spas and I moved to Thailand in 2012. Since then I have enjoyed a vibrant career in the Spa and Wellness industry, which has taken me to various countries throughout South East Asia.
- The Athenaeum Spa has been revamped and extensively changed. What has been left from the old spa? When will the new one open to the general public?
The development of the refurbishment of the Athenaeum Spa over the last year has intrinsically left very little of the original structure of what had been there before. The entire space has been refurbished and remodeled in order to create a space that is adapt to the needs of 21st century luxury traveler. We have created a unique environment and surely one of the best spas in the Mediterranean and a spa which is unparalleled to others in Malta.
However, what does remain from the legacy of the original 1990’s project is the soul of the space which is inspired by our Chairman’s dream of creating a holistic environment that will not only cater for the physical therapies we shall be offering but will also inspire a lifestyle of wellness for our guests who will surely be excited by a sense of stillness and tranquility that will be an integral part of the experience we are creating.
Whilst the official opening date was scheduled for Easter 2020, the current COVID19 situation has unfortunately delayed the actual opening until the re-opening of the Corinthia Palace later on this year. Having said this, it is nevertheless exciting to see that the work we have done is set and ready to welcome guests with not only the hardware being now finished, but also the software of recruitment, treatment development, training and soft touches which will ultimately be the essential part of the project.
- I understand Corinthia has embarked on a novel, fresh concept and vision of the spa world. Can you explain?
At the Athenaeum the emphasis is on caring for one’s own mind, body and spirit; the facilities have been carefully curated to enable guests to do exactly that. Here, our guests will have the space and time to focus on generating a lasting positive feeling of wellness and immerse themselves holistically in a world of relaxation, mental repose and calm.
Being a part of the Corinthia family, the Athenaeum focuses on creating crafted experiences. Every action is the result of thoughtful planning and is executed with care and deliberation. Craftsmanship may be seen as a means to ensure consistency and continuation; this is a core part of the experience and is reflected in every touchpoint, be it the presentation of tea in locally handmade pottery or the development of the consultation which is deeply personal and tailored to the individual.
Corinthia has spared no expense in creating this unique space. The best international architects and designers were used. The materials have been carefully selected and procured in order to create a holistic environment where one merges with the spiritual self.
This attention to detail is also reflected in the careful selection of our team members, who are all experienced therapists, and the choice of partners which include international experts such as ESPA, local aromatherapist Stephen Cordina and world class aesthetician Dr Raina Rodrigues.
- Athenaeum Spa will carry the strap-line: The best in Malta and the best of Corinthia. Does this mean the Athenaeum Spa will be a leader, not a follower, in the Corinthia world?
Our purpose is to create a serene environment for an uplifting physical and spiritual experience. In this venture we are very fortunate to have as our Curator, Ms Rebecca Pisani, daughter of the Founder of Corinthia who has injected and curated a very special aura and energy. The Athenaeum Spa will be the pinnacle of all the spas within the Corinthia Portfolio and will surely carve our name into the wellness landscape of Malta and the Mediterranean region.
Our focus on mindfulness and high-end treatment quality in a unique environment emphasizes the importance of taking time for ourselves to live an improved wellness lifestyle.
- What process did you follow in the creation of the new Athenaeum? Did you start with an end concept which you aimed to achieve and then work on the building or was it vice versa?
The creation of the Athenaeum Spa started with the vision of a unique selling point for Corinthia Palace which would allow the property to compete on the international stage, as a sought-after luxury destination.
The development of the Corinthia brand and the evolution of Uplifting Lives as the soul of the company allowed us to forge an Athenaeum Spa concept which enshrines the values of the company. In addition, Corinthia Palace reflects and embodies the magic of Malta in a legendary environment, which retraces the founding of our company and expounds the vision of our Chairman.
- I understand that you want to reach new standards and ensure all therapists will not be merely offering a service but will also diffuse the spirit of the Athenaeum. How would you be attaining this? Is this a novel step in this field?
We are committed to the delivery of consistent luxury services, treatments and products; therefore, the training and coaching of team members takes a priority. From the pre-opening period onwards, the team comes together in the mornings to take part in a brief meditation session, aligning the team’s energy and setting powerful intentions for the day ahead.
Development of all team members will be linked to individual performance and measured on a continuous basis through assessments and product knowledge tests to maintain high levels of treatment and service standards. All ESPA, Ashmira botanical and Jessica Nail trainings will be refreshed once a year by a trainer of the respective company and maintained on site trough the Asst. Spa Manager and the Senior Therapist.
Team member meditation is not widely practiced in companies and the change happens through the consistency of this practice, infusing the team with a passion to uplift people’s lives by looking after themselves.
- In the face of competition, what can you say to the public to convince them that the Athenaeum is unique and special?
On top of these values and strong vision we have developed clear success factors within the product offering, which will ensure that the Athenaeum is strongly positioned to be a commercial success and create an exceptional guest experience.
The environment plays a key role in the choice of products, extending to the linens and guest supplies we have chosen to create this special experience. In a world where discerning customers are aware of their carbon impact and influence on the world around them, we have created a facility which does not compromise on creating a luxury experience, but which takes steps to minimize its impact.
The Spa is unique in form and function. It flows from room to room like a Roman Villa, facilitating the guest journey in a beautiful and pleasing manner. The choice of experienced colleagues adds to the sense of the destination and the touchpoint of having a Mediterranean ambience is worth traveling the world to experience.