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4 Questions for Mark Grenoble, Enchantment Group

Enchantment Group, which currently includes Enchantment Resort and Mii amo destination spa in Sedona, Ariz., and Tides Inn in Irvington, Va., has seen all three of its properties grow in 2011, up 20 percent in room nights. In addition, it has been awarded the management contracts for Hotel ZaZa’s spas in both Houston and Dallas. Editor Len Vermillion recently caught up with Enchantment Group President Mark Grenoble.

1. Len Vermillion: You’ve been able to increase revenue and clientele in the last year. In this difficult environment, what’s been the secret to that success?

Mark Grenoble: Each of our properties has had substantial increases in revenue in 2011 for various reasons. The underlying reason for such success is that we have found ways to make each of our properties’ guest experience relevant to the target audience for that resort. For example, Mii amo, our destination spa, is experiencing its best year since it opened in 2001, almost selling out for the year.

The Mii amo team evaluates our offerings annually and creates new experiences based on guests’ feedback and interests. For the luxury consumer, if they are working they are most likely working more hours and have more responsibilities than ever before, therefore when they take a vacation, they really want to get away and Mii amo has filled that need for them. The fact that Mii amo is consistently rated as one of the top destination spas in the world has also been a major driver of business for the spa.

Enchantment’s numbers are up over 20 percent this year in both the leisure and group markets. We added meeting space two years ago at Enchantment and this opened up new markets that we could not pursue in the past. Additionally, our sales team is now mainly based offsite in Scottsdale, Ariz. This has allowed us to recruit and retain a stronger sales team than we could field in Sedona and this has contributed to the group markets success.

Our leisure numbers were extremely strong for 2011 also, increasing over 20 percent. We accomplished this in two ways; first, the operations team built a very strong guest experience for couples, families, and multigenerational travel. Enchantment offers over 120 activities each week with a large portion of the activities being geared around our Native American program. Enchantment’s guests want to have an educational component while in Sedona and our Native American programs are heavily attended for this reason. Secondly, our marketing and communications team did an excellent job of conveying all the experiences to the marketplace.

The Tides leisure numbers were also up over 20 percent this year. This is mainly due to the fact that we completely reprogrammed our activities programs at the resort and made them relevant for the families that come to the Tides. We changed the concierge team into an “activities team” and the energy throughout the resort changed immediately. Concurrently, we changed the Tides website so prospective guests could see all the activities at the resort as well as in the destination. We were pleasantly surprised at how quickly this made an impact.

2. LV: What advice could you offer your fellow hoteliers on how to improve business in this economy?

MG: We are fortunate in that our entire organization is very close to the guest experience and we can make decisions and necessary operational adjustments quickly to maintain it. Additionally, the investor groups at all of our properties are long-term investors. They are seeking long-term value rather than short-term returns. This allows us to make the best decision for the overall value of the properties rather than react to one bad month.
The main advice I can give is to constantly re-evaluate the guest experience and make it relevant to the market. Additionally, the marketing and public relations messages need to be in concert with the operational offerings or there will be confusion between what the guest is expecting and the actual product and services being delivered.

3. LV: Your company has resorts. Do you think the resort business has bounced back, and what do you envision as the outlook for the sector in 2012?

MG: I wish I could say that the resort industry has bounced back. The average rates, while climbing as an industry, are still way below their peak levels. We think that the resort market is on a positive upswing but we do not think it has fully recovered and do not anticipate it recovering in 2012. We think our success in 2011 was mainly by stealing market share from some of our competitors rather than the market growing by more than 20 percent. For continued growth, we need the market to continue to recover.

4. LV: You’ve recently announced two spa deals. What will management of Hotel ZaZa’s spas in Houston and Dallas mean for your company’s growth and success?

MG: We are excited about Enchantment Group managing the spas for the ZaZa Hotels in Dallas and Houston. We will be introducing our luxury destination spa experience to ZaSpa’s vision as an urban amenity spa and will bring a whole new light to this segment. Our destination spa, Mii amo, has been extremely successful from both a guest perspective, as well as from a financial perspective. Mii amo does extremely well with retail sales and overall possibly runs the highest profit percentages in the industry. Due to Mii amo’s success, there have been numerous requests for us to operate spas for several different resorts and hotels.

We have developed a very strong spa management team, as well as a strong retail team, and feel we have established the internal talent and platform to take on additional spa operations. We fully staffed a spa operations division at Enchantment Group to grow this business.

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