It’s before 7am, the corridors are quiet and the store windows still dim. The buzz of iPods and the patter of smart shoes have not yet filled The Landmark as I walk into work. Entering through the ‘secret’ side door to The Spa from the back of house, I hear ‘Jóusàhn’ (good morning) from my morning concierge team. ‘Jóusàhn,’ I reply, certain that I am again mispronouncing this Cantonese word! As my third week begins in my new job at Mandarin Oriental, I am aware that Cantonese is the native language of many of our members, guests and colleagues.
This morning, there’s a surprise on my desk: a cafè latte with two brown sugars from our Spa Café, made by our coffee specialist. The team wows me day to day, so it is no surprise that The Oriental Spa is one of the best in Asia! But before I can take a sip of my morning treat, the phones are ringing and my BlackBerry is vibrating. Reminder: ‘Training with Sodashi’. (I understand why people here live according to their calendars. In Hong Kong, there is always something happening, so schedules are a must to remember meeting times, dates and events.) I’m excited about the training: our new product line from Australia is chemical-free and it’s exclusive to our spa in Hong Kong. This is my first time working with the brand, and sampling the products is a great start to the morning. By 9am, my skin is smooth and my cheeks are glowing. I slide through yet another secret door with my pass, to the back of house area, and begin my morning workout: walking up three flights of steps – in heels – to the meeting room.
After a quick briefing about the day’s VIPs and events, I go back to the spa to greet our regular members before their yoga class. An hour later, after an enlightening conversation with a regular member about Hong Kong Chinese opera houses and the best local dim sum places, I begin my daily walk-through over two floors. I pop into the fitness centre, where I see our personal trainer busy with two members. I am acknowledged straight away with a smile. Then it’s off to the pool, where our lifeguards are setting the chairs with white oversized towels and laughing with a guest. I go past the reception desk and before I have the chance to ask, the team says, excitedly, ‘We had a record number of appointments yesterday and today looks even busier.’ They already know me well – I have a sense of loyalty and pride for my new spa and team.
I walk up to our sixth floor, check the treatment rooms and say hello to the therapists and those receiving training. They are practising the signature Sodashi Samadara facial massage with rose quartz stones, and ask if I want to be a model. I say thank you, but meetings call and I suggest they use one of our concierge members. I get lost in the back of house area… again! Our attendant finds me and points me to the door, where I exit and check one of our retail areas. Another diffuser has been sold and a travel kit.
Passing the yoga studio, I stop and ask one of our members how her daughter’s wedding was at the weekend. Later on, I arrive back in the office, where everyone is busy on the phone making appointments. I walk past the Bastien Gonzalez Christmas hampers (which contain some of the most popular products from beauty range Reverence by Bastien Gonzalez) to my desk, where my morning coffee is still waiting for me! But my BlackBerry vibrates again, reminding me of my 5pm meeting. I say goodbye to the team on the morning shift, tell them to enjoy the evening and head to the stairway. Then I begin my evening workout of three flights of steps.
After a few more hours, I say goodnight and go down in the elevator directly into The Landmark shopping mall. The café is open and the stores are lit, but the crowds have ventured off now for late dinners and drinks. I walk to the MTR, happy to repeat the day tomorrow in my new Mandarin Oriental home.