Montage’s Jennifer Holzworth on wellness in hospitality, longevity & industry challenges

Jennifer Holzworth, Montage’s Corporate Director of Spa Operations, talks guest experience, longevity, and hospitality wellness.

Montage International encompasses the ultra-luxury brand Montage Hotels & Resorts, the contemporary luxury brand Pendry Hotels & Resorts, Montage Residences, Pendry Residences and the management of some of the most premier golf courses and clubs.

Montage Hotels & Resorts is a pillar of luxury in the hospitality industry, known for its exquisite collection of distinctive hotels, resorts, and residences spread across some of the most picturesque locations. The portfolio includes gems like Montage Laguna Beach, Montage Deer Valley, Montage Kapalua Bay, and Montage Big Sky, Montage Healdsburg, Montage Palmetto Bluff and Montage Los Cabos, with the eagerly anticipated Montage Cay in development. Each property is designed to fit its environment, reflecting the local culture and setting in both architecture and experience. The Craftsman-style elegance of Montage Laguna Beach reflects the coastal beauty of California, while Montage Deer Valley offers the warmth of a mountain lodge. The spirit of Montage is centered on providing an unmatched guest experience, characterized by comfortable elegance, a unique sense of place, and impeccable hospitality.

Pendry Hotels & Resorts, meanwhile, is a collection of contemporary luxury hotels for the cultured world traveler that includes Pendry San Diego, Pendry West Hollywood, Pendry Chicago, Pendry Manhattan West, Pendry Washington DC – The Wharf, Pendry Newport Beach, Pendry Park City, and Sagamore Pendry Baltimore, with additional locations in development. Pendry offers polished comfort with a modern edge in a collection of thoughtfully appointed hotels and residences. Designed to usher in a new era of luxury hospitality anchored by contemporary design and boutique culture, Pendry delivers elevated service at every turn.

Jennifer Holzworth is Montage International’s Corporate Director of Spa Operations. Ms. Holzworth supports all spa and fitness operations across the portfolio for both the Montage and Pendry brands through programming and maintaining performance metrics. She also works with all future development projects “to create a holistic wellness strategy that weaves seamlessly throughout the guests’ journey and creates unique and innovative touchpoints.” Before working with Montage, she worked with Ritz-Carlton for several years.

We spoke with Jennifer Holzworth about her career, how spa and wellness treatments contribute to longevity, and challenges facing the industry.

Can you please talk about your career trajectory and how you came to be doing what you are today?

I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have discovered my passion early in life. I was introduced to wellness and recovery at a young age during my high school years of playing sports, where I found myself frequently injured. This sparked a deep fascination within me, observing the body’s innate ability to heal and the profound impact of human touch. After high school I continued my education in both massage therapy and esthetics. I transitioned from a private practice to hospitality and spa management for an opportunity to support west coast properties in the luxury segment and lean into creating a more experiential offering for guests. In my current role, I’m grateful to continue the support of operational teams and push the boundaries of creating elevated wellness experiences at all properties.

What’s Montage’s wellness philosophy?

At the core of every one of our hotels and resorts lies the distinctive Spa Montage or Spa Pendry, serving as a vital cornerstone of our brand. We strive to create unique moments for our guests to discover throughout their stay that enrich their wellness journey. We center our experiences on tailored offerings to promote holistic well-being and a life well lived.

Why has wellness become such an integral part of the travel and hospitality experience?

Our guests have become much more focused on their own health and wellness journeys and through the accessibility of technology and in-home options, more people are creating a lifestyle with wellbeing at the forefront. Our luxury travelers are looking to continue those habits while away from home now more than ever before, which allows us in the hospitality industry the opportunity to continuously evolve our offerings and create authentic and customized experiences to meet their needs. It’s also great to see the growing interest in corporate wellness programming as our group accounts recognize the importance of wellness offerings on their employees’ overall engagement and productivity.

How do spa and wellness treatments contribute to longevity and/or healthspan and how do you approach these things?

Creating a regular self-care routine can help with longevity and lifespan in several ways. Incorporating various spa treatments, facials, and bodywork not only helps with relaxation and skin health but also promotes stress reduction and overall improved mental health. Focusing on wellness activities that help improve sleep quality like guided meditation and sound baths, similar to the Moonbath ceremony offered at Montage Big Sky or the Mind-Sync Wellness Sessions available at Pendry San Diego, can also help the body recover and regenerate faster. Movement activities like yoga and personal training found at all our spa locations are also very important for improving flexibility and range of motion as well as combatting aging muscle mass decline. A healthy immune system and improved circulation can also be supported by regular use of hydrotherapy circuits similar to Spa Montage’s signature Art of Spa circuit of several temperature variations such as a cold plunge to sauna or steam room.

What makes the best guest wellness experience in a hotel or resort?

The best wellness experience is one that has been thoughtfully curated. Beginning with intentional and thoughtful design of spaces that promote relaxation and are rooted in a sense of place for the locale. Whether it’s a hydrotherapy circuit for an hour or a wellness retreat for the weekend, curating a wellness journey based on preferences and individual needs through pre-arrival communication, attention to detail, and anticipatory service is key in the overall guest experience. It should include a variety of offerings based on the guests’ needs, perhaps introducing them to an offering they haven’t experienced before, and provide an overall sense of mental, physical, and emotional well-being.

Do you find yourself using technology more in the wellness experience in recent years?

There is a lot of really great tech out there right now from apps and online platforms which have allowed us to create a more efficient booking process, as well as interactive fitness equipment and wearable tech to elevate the guest experience and help them track their progress away from home and to VR related mindfulness offerings. We continue to innovate and elevate the guest experience through technology at our locations with services like our Five Senses at Montage Laguna Beach in celebration of their 20th anniversary, which is designed to provide a true sensory awakening with VR guided sound as one component. As I continue to watch this space, however, I think the key to successfully incorporating technology into the wellness experience lies in ensuring that it enhances, rather than detracts from, the guest’s experience.

What is the biggest challenge facing the hospitality/wellness industry right now? What are some ideas for solving that challenge?

Staffing challenges have had an impact across the industry. There is rising demand for bodywork and wellness experiences but a declining number of people going to massage or cosmetology school, and a current challenge of decline in mid-level management causing a gap in operational leadership teams. It is important to focus on more than just the compensation, but the overall benefits and work environment. A few things that work well for our properties are staying rooted in community outreach and involvement with local organizations and schools, which each associate takes pride in. Providing continuing education and training for our teams for their personal growth has created a strong emotional connection to the brand and allows us to continue to innovate our offerings based on what skills the team is interested in learning and developing.

What are you most excited about for the spa, wellness, and hospitality industry in 2024?

I am excited to see wellness expand outside of the four walls of the spa and to see our industry as a whole take a more comprehensive approach to the guest experience in addition to seeing wellness span across new audiences with corporate groups and our multi-generational travelers, introducing children to mindfulness and spa as a family activity. I also look forward to the continued growth of integrative medicine with the support of technology and conventional treatments merged with holistic therapies to target longevity and a balanced mind, body, and spirit.

Can you talk about anything exciting happening with Montage?

Our next project coming a little later this year will introduce the largest Spa Pendry built to date. Set on 400 rolling acres of New Jersey’s Somerset County, Pendry Natirar will feature 68 guest rooms, four dining destinations, an abundance of recreational activities to cater to the curious, and a 12-treatment-room Spa Pendry. Staying true to the brands identity of creating highly curated and customized experiences, inspiration from nature guiding season to season has set the stage for this menu of local wellness experiences that includes bespoke spa product creations with ingredients from our farm, custom honey bars from our apiary, and a rotating treatment menu to help you stay healthy through the seasons. Spa Pendry will also feature state-of-the-art facilities equipped with salt room, private indoor tranquility pool, and self-guided thermal mud rooms as just a few fun things in store.


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