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Breaking Travel News interview: Tom Bauer, chief operating officer, VAMED Vitality World

Breaking Travel News interview: Tom Bauer, chief operating officer, VAMED Vitality World

Operating eight of the most popular thermal spa and health resorts in Austria, VAMED Vitality World attracts 2.5 million visitors each year.

With the brand having just taken the title of World’s Leading Medical Wellness & Spa Operator at the prestigious World Travel Awards, Breaking Travel News editor Chris O’Toole here sites down with chief operating officer Tom Bauer to discuss the future of the brand.

Breaking Travel News: Can we perhaps begin with an overview of the brand? Can you tell our readers what it is you offer?

Tom Bauer: VAMED is a health care group with a global reach.

The group offers a complete portfolio of services, ranging from project development and planning via turn-key construction to total operational management of hospitals, spas, thermal spas, wellness resorts and facilities for senior citizens.

In past years, VAMED implemented more than 650 projects in 72 countries around the world.

Under the VAMED Vitality World umbrella brand, VAMED operates eight of the most popular thermal spa and health resorts in Austria, attracting 2.5 million visitors every year.

Each site has a different profile, and they all offer a broad range of services focused on health and wellbeing in a one-of-a-kind location.

VAMED Vitality World sees itself not only as the market leader in Austria, but also as innovator for a whole new tourism category: year-round holiday destinations, offering a holistic approach to prevention, recovery and regeneration.

Since the eight thermal spa and health resorts of VAMED Vitality World are located at eight different, highly attractive destinations, it is important to us that we include the attractions of the local area in what we offer.

This can be regional food and wine, regional features in treatments and health packages, or even the architectural concept at the resort.

Besides the wide range of spa and treatment offers, outdoor activities and culinary delights that we offer hotel and day spa guests, in 2013 we launched our “Relax! One Day Holiday”, an entirely new class of spa holiday in the luxury category.

This “short break with a long-lasting effect” is designed individually according to each resort’s attractions, and comprises various benefits that set it apart from the usual visit to a spa: exclusive Relax lounges with reserved sun-beds, special Relax service, snacks, refreshments, preferred treatments and more.

AQUA DOME - Tirol Therme Längenfeld

BTN: From where do you draw guests? Is it mainly European visitors you attract, or are you seeing growth in other areas? Has this changed in recent years?

TB: All our resorts attract guests from abroad.

About 75 per cent are European-based, and about five-to-ten per cent travel from the Middle East.

The remainder come from all over the world.

An encouraging development for all of us is new demand from the Chinese market – the fastest growing nationality among our guests for the last 12-18 months.

TAUERN SPA Zell am See – Kaprun

BTN: The VAMED brand is obviously very focused on Austria; do you have any ambitions for further international expansion?

TB: As I mentioned, VAMED Vitality World is part of the VAMED group, which operates on a highly international basis.

With its more than 650 health projects on four continents VAMED has become the leading global provider of a full line of services for hospitals and other health care facilities.

Since 1995, VAMED has also been active in the spa and medical wellness sector, establishing the VAMED Vitality World brand in 2006, under which we currently operate eight thermal spa and health resorts.

St. Martins Therme & Lodge

BTN: Spa resorts are a very competitive market here in Europe. What is it that sets your brand apart from your competitors?

TB: Our resorts offer guests a holistic approach to prevention, recovery and regeneration.

The architecture, the location, the attractions of the region, and all of the treatments and therapies combine to create a whole new experience.

Our concept of medical wellness is based on a strategy of providing high quality services, with boosting health and vitality being the key elements.

VAMED Vitality World has a clear vision for its brand offering, which we consider to be an integral part of our success.

There are two criteria that we apply in all our strategic decisions: will our guests like it and consider it a value add, and secondly, can we ensure that our most important asset – our colleagues and employees – enjoy their work and delivering these products, services and offers to our guests?

Therme Wien

BTN: World Travel Awards recognised VAMED Vitality World as the World’s Leading Medical Wellness & Spa Operator for the third year in succession in 2013. How does it feel to have picked up this honour once again?

TB: It still feels fantastic – the World Travel Awards are really the Oscars of the travel industry.

And the award has weight because the results are a combination of votes by a broader audience and voters from the travel industry itself.

As I said directly after we received the World Travel Award in December 2013, we see this honour as a result of our sustained ambition to be the best of the best.

A key driver of guest satisfaction is, of course, the friendliness and dedication of our staff, who are our greatest asset – so we always try to create the best working environment we can, which establishes the ideal atmosphere for satisfied, happy and inspired guests.

BTN: Can you tell us how you might use the award? In what ways will you leverage it to draw more guests to your resorts?

TB: This award is a great acknowledgement and affirmation for us, showing that we are focusing on the right things and that our drive to stay on top has gained recognition.

It is also a statement confirming our leading position in the industry and in respect of our business partners and suppliers.

However, guests don’t pay so much attention to awards, but rather the quality of what you offer and whether you are able to exceed their expectations.

Nevertheless, receiving such an award encourages us as we know that our teams and ideas are on the right track.

More Information

There is more information on the official website.

Interview: Chris O’Toole