Five minutes with: Director of spa and wellness, Mandarin Oriental Jumeira

We catch up with Sara Codner, director of spa and wellness at Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai

Sara Codner
Sara Codner

How were you introduced to the wellness industry? 
I have been interested in health and wellness from an early age, so for me it was a natural progression to go and study it in the UK. I grew up in Mauritius in a multicultural environment seeing people treat sunburn with aloe vera, my mum using papaya from the garden as a skin exfoliant and avocado in her hair. Growing up mostly outdoors I had a natural affinity with wellness and have carried that on throughout not only my professional but my personal life. Being vegan for over four years has had an enormous effect on my lifestyle choices and it had made me a lot closer to the environment.

How would you describe the concept of the Spa at Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai?
The spa has been designed around the natural beauty of the UAE taking design features around the movement of sand dunes and the forms of the desert cactus. The first floor comprises treatment rooms and thermal bathing experiences which reflect the spine and petals of a cactus flower. There is also an element of Feng Shui within the treatment room corridor as it is facing the sea, which also represents our Oriental heritage.

What are three key things that any successful spa manager should have in mind? 
Treat your colleagues as you would like to be treated and look after them as they are the key to your success. Know your business, have a clear vision and believe in what you are wanting to achieve. Be innovative yet consistent to keep your guests interested and engaged and deliver luxury and genuine services.

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Personalisation is a growing trend. Do you customise treatments for each guest?
Each guest has an individual consultation prior to their treatment to determine how they are feeling on that day and more importantly how they would like to feel afterwards. The therapist would then tailor the products for that individual. We also have our Time Ritual which is a booking of ‘time’ rather than a treatment. The therapist will consult with the guest and design a treatment best suited for the guest at that moment in time which will best benefit them. This could entail using different ranges of products or specific ones, all depending on the guest.

How do you ensure that your service standards are maintained? 
We have consistent training with emphasis on delivering our pillars and legendary quality experiences.  The spa therapists at Mandarin Oriental have very intensive training prior to treating guests, we select colleagues based on their natural ability to give the best of themselves whilst understanding five-star luxury hospitality.

Which brands do you use in your treatments and why?
One of the most important decisions for me in choosing a brand is not only how effective the product is, but what their story is and how they came to produce the range and the treatments. My criteria is the authenticity of the product, what their sustainability statement is, to ensure that they are cruelty free and only tested on humans. Then I look at our concept and carefully select the brands that best complement what we are looking to achieve.  We use Subtle Energies out of Australia and LING New York, the local brand Hammamii for our hammam style treatments, as well as Mandarin Oriental Signature Spa products.

Do you have any new treatments, activations or product launches coming soon? 
We will be having some exciting new treatments coming in the next six months as well as a wellness workshop happening in October.

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