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Tuesday, May 16, 2000

Spa firm
taps Hawaii for
worldwide base

It will operate out
of the $5 million facility
it is building at the Hilton

By Russ Lynch


A business that operates spas in luxury resort hotels is setting up its global headquarters in Hawaii, where it is developing what it says will be the largest spa in the United States.

And the company, Mandara Spa, announced today that it has a new partner, the internationally known Japanese cosmetics company Shiseido Co., to help it develop more spas throughout Asia.

"We have today over 33 spas in the United States, the Caribbean and Asia. Honolulu is the perfect location to keep us in close contact with all of those spas," said Thomas Gottlieb, president of Mandara Spa.

His company, which has been based in Bali, Indonesia, for five years, sees a strong expansion in the spa business and Hawaii is a good example of the growing popularity of facilities where guests can be pampered, massaged, exercised or just relax under the guidance of experts.

Mandara Spa, in partnership with Hilton Hotels Corp. and health and wellness business Holistica, is developing a 45,000-square-foot, $5 million-plus spa in the Kalia Tower, under construction at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

Gottlieb has already moved to Honolulu and with several other top officers and a small head office staff will set up Mandara's headquarters in the spa at the Hilton when it is complete next spring.

Shiseido, meanwhile, has acquired 40 percent of the privately owned Mandara.

Shiseido has "become very interested in the spa industry, witnessing its explosive growth in both the United States and Asia over the last four or five years," Gottlieb said.

The Japanese company was looking for opportunities for their own spas or to work with companies that were established in the business and chose to buy into Mandara, he said, because it is positioned to grow the business.

Gottlieb said Mandara is bringing its concept of Asian-tropical garden spas to Honolulu.

"We're also doing one in Maui and we are in discussions with resorts on the Big Island, Kauai and Lanai. We would hope to have a Mandara Spa on all the islands," he said.

Mandara, Gottlieb said, is the largest supplier of spa services to the traveling Japanese public. "More than 50 percent of our guests, excluding our Las Vegas operation, are Japanese," Gottlieb said.

Mandara Spa's current U.S. flagship operation is in the Paris-Las Vegas Casino Resort, but the Hilton Hawaiian Village operation will be bigger and will become the U.S. flagship operation.

Mandara Spa has operations, some of which it part-owns and others it manages for other owners, in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, Thailand and Guam, where it has the Outrigger Guam operation, as well as spas on the ships of Silverseas Cruise Line.

The headquarters in Honolulu will have a relatively small staff of approximately 10, including Gottlieb, the company's chief financial officer, sales and marketing director, chief operating officer, retail products manager, and office staff.

The Shiseido connection is likely to result in substantial expansion, he said.

Yasutaka Mori, a Shiseido company director and Shiseido's chief officer of corporate business development, said in a written statement that Mandara is "an ideal strategic partner for Shiseido."

He said Shiseido is committed to play an important part in the international expansion of the spa business.

An American, Gottlieb was chief investment officer for InterPacific Group, a private company owned by Duty Free Shoppers cofounder Charles Sweeney, which developed $300 million worth of real estate, tourism and retailing companies in the Pacific Rim and the United States, including fitness clubs in resort hotels with spa facilities.

He retired in 1993, used his experience to open and operate spas in hotels in California and moved to Bali with his family in 1996, to form Mandara.

Hawaii has a rapidly developing spa business.

The JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa at Ko Olina has had a major operation since it opened in 1993. The Hyatt Regency Waikiki and the Pacific Beach Hotel on Kalakaua Avenue both opened spas last month and the Sheraton hotels in Waikiki are looking for a location.

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