At present, the future might feel bleak for homegrown tourism. Despite restrictions being loosened for those fully vaccinated and in Phase 2 onwards under the National Recovery Plan (NRP), the amount of daily COVID-19 cases in Malaysia is still within the 20K range. People are sceptical of leaving their homes in fear of catching the Delta, the new virus variant.
However, the time spent keeping safe at home has made us more appreciative of local tourism. Ask anyone and, surely, they’ll agree that a beach-side vacation within our country is something that they’d take in a heartbeat. One destination, in particular, One&Only Desaru Coast, Southeast Asia’s first One&Only resort, has piqued the interest of both local and global travellers. Listed as one of Condé Nast Traveler’s ‘Best New Wellness Resorts in the World’ the resort has put Desaru Coast on the international wanderlust destination map.
The resort’s General Manager, Jerome Colson says, “I think what makes One&Only Desaru Coast a great wellness brand is that we opened the first Chenot Spa within One&Only. The partnership with Chenot started a couple of years ago and, since then, we also have a Chenot Espace in Portonovi, Montenegro. One thing Chenot stresses on is that you need to be in harmony with yourself, in order to be in good health. And I think this sums up the meaning of wellness really well.
“Wellness is all about relaxation, indulging yourself, resting and having a good time. The spa’s Chenot Method focuses on getting something back out of your treatment and experience. The method is interesting. It’s a mix between Western and traditional Chinese medicine, so it really brings the best of the East and West. The services that we are offering are created based on data, research and diagnostics that have been studied by the Chenot team over the past decades,” he adds.
However, wellness isn’t just about the spa. One&Only Desaru Coast offers an amazing environment – there are 128-acres of space on the property and 1.5 kilometres of private beach. There’s also a mix of beach and rainforest, not to mention amazing fauna and flora where you can really reconnect with nature.
“Something that also is also part of wellness is culture, and I’m happy to share that we got a Silat Master on our property. Of course, Malaysians know what Silat is but when you talk about it abroad, people are very interested because it’s a martial art that is not known overseas.”
Navigating Tough Waters
Since opening its doors in September 2020, it has been a roller coaster of a ride for Colson. “Two months after launching, we were on a Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) in November, before we were fully open in December. Then Movement Control Order (MCO) 2.0 happened in January and February. We reopened in March and April was great. Then, MCO 3.0. took place. The hospitality industry has been directly impacted – it’s not just our industry, it’s everything that’s around it as well. It’s all the livelihoods in our state – the hotels, our suppliers our partners,” he shares.
The number one priority for Colson as a General Manager was keeping all employees safe, staying connected within and continuously motivating them. “We’ve put a lot of focus on cultivating wellness within our employees and created activities from using the spa to our Silat master and tennis pro and sports and leisure manager to provide them with an environment that is better than just being at home and waiting for the next day to happen until we reopen,” he says.
One huge lesson Colson has learnt through it all is being able to be agile and turn things around very quickly. “COVID-19 will remain and the only way to make it out is to learn how to live with it. If we were talking a year ago, you would have thought that this pandemic is just something that’s going to stop one day and then we move on. I think we now realise that there’s going to be new norms, new needs of the guests, different ways of travelling and different protocols, and as human beings, we will adapt to these,” he says.
This article first appeared in The Peak Malaysia Issue 3/2021