Editorial Board   Guest Author

Mr. Birmele

Henri Birmele

Managing Director, Hotel Shangrila Santa Monica

Henri Birmele, Managing Director, Hotel Shangrila, Santa Monica, CA has more than 25 years experience in every aspect of the hospitality industry. During his long career, he has worked in a variety of key positions all the while growing his knowledge and skills. He has moved through such assignments as a Director of Operations, Director of Food and Beverage, Hotel Manager, Vice President of Hospitality, General Manager to his current position as Managing Director. Before coming to Hotel Shangrila in 2010, Mr. Birmele's high profile career included executive positions at Shutters on the Beach, Santa Monica, CA.; Sheraton Universal, Universal City, CA.; Viceroy Hotel, Santa Monica, CA.; St. Regis, Washington, DC and Los Angeles, CA; and Turnberry Isle Resort and Spa, Miami, Fl. 
 A graduate of the prestigious Hotel School Lausanne in Switzerland, Mr. Birmele also has a degree in Global Business from the Benedict Business School in Zurich. During his career, he has had oversight for opening three new hotel properties as well as three hotel renovations. In his executive roles and within the industry, he is known for his project planning and management skills; human resources, team-building, staff retention and motivational skills; and cost cutting and profit building initiatives. A visible, hands-on manager, he is a staunch advocate for building strong relationships with all key constituent groups—everyone from guests, staff, owners/partners to community leaders, civic officials and vendors. His real-world approach to problem solving and his wealth of experience has allowed him to meet the challenges in the fast-paced and ever-changing hotel and hospitality industry.

Mr. Birmele can be contacted at 310-394-2791 or henri@shangrila-hotel.com

Coming up in July 2019...

Hotel Spa: Pursuing Distinction

The Wellness Movement continues to evolve and hotel spas continue to innovate in order to keep pace. Fueled by intense competition within the industry, hotel spas are seeking creative ways to differentiate themselves in the market. An increasing number of customers are searching for very specific, niche treatments that address their particular health concerns and, as a result, some leading spas have achieved distinction by offering only one specialized treatment. Meditation and mindfulness practices are becoming increasingly mainstream as are alternative treatments and therapies, such as Ayurvedic therapies, Reiki, energy work and salt therapy. Some spas specialize in stress management and offer lifestyle coaching sessions as part of their program.  Other spas are fully embracing new technologies as a way to differentiate themselves, such as providing wearable devices that track health and fitness biomarkers, or robots programmed with artificial intelligence to control spa environments, or virtual reality add-ons that transport guests to relaxing places around the world. Some spas have chosen to specialize in medical procedures such as liposuction, laser skin therapy, phototherapy facials, Botox and facial fillers, acupuncture and permanent hair removal, in addition to cosmetic body shaping procedures and  teeth whitening treatments. Similarly, other spas are offering comprehensive health check-ups and counseling services for those who are interested in disease prevention treatments. Finally, as hotel spas continue to become more diverse, accessible and specialized, there is a growing demand for health professionals with a specific area of expertise. There is a proliferation of top class, quality wellness practitioners who make a name for themselves by offering their services around the globe, including athletes, chefs, doctors, physical trainers and weight loss specialists. The July issue of the Hotel Business Review will report on these trends and developments and examine how some hotel spas are integrating them into their operations.