Bhuwan Phaiju is the CEO of Tranquility Spa, the largest network of spas in Nepal. Since its establishment in 2008, Tranquility Spa has expanded rapidly to 15 outlets in Kathmandu, Pokhara, Chitwan and even in Kuala Lumpur generating employment for more than 400 people.
Phaiju is further planning to start a hospitality academy, wellness village and a world-class spa and wellness training academy. He believes that training and creating employment for young Nepalis will discourage them from the need to migrate. At the same time for those who prefer working overseas, the training will increase their employability and allow them to earn more as skilled workers.
Expanding aggressively, Phaiju ensures consistent quality at each one of his spas. In this issue of B360, he shares with Ankita Jain, the five elements that have impacted his work and life.
My school teacher, Ram Prasad Gyawali once visited Japan and he was so impressed with the country that every story of his used to revolve around Japan. He used to explain to us in detail how clean and well-managed the country was. These revelations used to leave us curious about Japan. He also told us how teenagers in developed countries support themselves and make major life decisions on their own. Ram sir always encouraged us to learn to stand on our own feet and think independently. These constant motivations led me to shift to Kathmandu from Kavre at the age of 15. I also set out knowing that I would bear my own personal and education expenses. I used to work 18 hours a day in various places, and this is where I learned life skills such as positive attitude, hard work, marketing skills and the ability to adapt to different situations.
My gurus: my brother and sister-in-law
From the beginning, my family members have been very supportive but my elder brother Rameshwore Phaiju and my sister-in-law Sarita are my mentors and they have continuously supported and guided me throughout. They are my gurus and inspiration for life.
My brother, who was already working as a therapist suggested that I try this field as there is a huge demand for therapists in Nepal and overseas. After acquiring basic training from them, I decided to study spa and wellness in Thailand. I got the opportunity to complete my studies at Watpo Temple in Thailand. It helped me to find a managerial job and became the first Nepali to become a Spa Manager in a five-star hotel.
I have worked in many different places but Hyatt taught me professionalism. During the period of Maoist insurgency, we hardly had any tourists and we had to create new local clients. While working in Hyatt, I realised the importance of continuous training and development of staff who are the real brand ambassadors of the hotel. When your staff are professional, the organisation can grow even in an adverse business environment.
Humiliation faced by Nepalis abroad
I tried my luck in Dubai and received a very attractive remuneration package as there was a huge demand for therapists there. While working, I met thousands of Nepalis and other nationals. Because of my work skills and experience, I used to make three times more money than my Nepali friends. But I saw many Nepalis being overworked, continuously humiliated by supervisors and managers due to lack of work exposure and poor communication skills. Suicide was very common then. It was very frustrating. These incidents made me think that if proper training is made available in our country, things could be different. Despite earning well, I returned after three and a half months.
Starting my own business
Getting a job was easy in Nepal but starting my own business with only Rs 22,000 in my pocket was entirely different. I shared my business plan with dozens of investors and fortunately I convinced one opening a two-room spa in Lazimpat. Having work experience in different hotels, I decided to start both spa service and spa academy simultaneously. With increasing demand, I opened the second outlet in Kupondole. Realising the potential, I wanted to expand to other cities as well but investment and management were needed. Later, I met three more partners who had different strengths and capacities. With this team, we became the first Nepali spa to start services in a five-star hotel in Nepal. We became the first homegrown brand to work abroad with Marriott, Radisson and Intercontinental hotel groups. I am really proud to provide employment to 400 youths who are supporting their families.
The spa and wellness industry is growing rapidly across the world and we get partnership offers from many international hotels and resorts from USA, Japan, Africa, Turkey, Cyprus, Dubai, Malaysia, cruise lines and more. We are looking forward to do more in the international markets.