IDEEA Podcast Episode 21: Frank Halmos, Chief Executive Officer, Ensana Hotels

Published: 07 August 2023

In this podcast episode, Frank Halmos, the CEO of Ensana Health Spa Hotels, joins as a guest to discuss the brand's background and operations. Frank provides insights into Ensana's establishment in 2019 and its journey since then, including successful quarters before the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Frank elaborates on the distinction between Ensana's health spa hotels and regular wellness hotels. He emphasizes that Ensana focuses on a strong medical foundation, with doctors guiding treatments and programs designed for specific health conditions. This sets them apart from traditional wellness-focused hotels that prioritize relaxation.

The conversation also delves into the difference between countries in terms of reliance on health insurance and state support for guests. Frank highlights the varying sustainability of this model and the need to adapt to each location's dynamics.

Overall, the podcast provides insights into Ensana's unique positioning as a health spa hotel brand, its journey through challenges, and its commitment to providing tailored health and wellness experiences to its diverse clientele.



Marina Franolic (00:00:28) - Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to IDEEA Podcast. This is these are the podcasts that we do ahead of IDEEA Hospitality Investment Forum that will be taking place in Prague on September 18th to 20th. We hope you'll join us today. I have a great guest. It's Frank Halmos. He's the CEO of Ensana Health Spa Hotels. Frank, welcome.

Frank Halmos (00:00:56) - Thank you very much for having me here.

Marina Franolic (00:00:59) - It's a pleasure. Because Ensana, as well as Danubius are both sponsors of IDEEA. This year, for the first time, we're really looking forward to also present to the audience what both the brands are doing. But let's go with Ensana today, Frank. Can you share us with us a little bit? The background of of the brand of Ensana company and tell us how many hotels you have, how many hotels you operate at the moment and where.

Frank Halmos (00:01:27) - Okay, so Ensana has a relatively short history. We have established the brand in 2019. In September, we had an extremely successful last quarter in 2019 and then we had a very good start in 2020. And then, you know what happened? Covid came. So we had a really difficult time, which we took for improving our services, creating new programs, focusing on new other health conditions. So this is roughly how the brand was created. Our hotels are located in five different countries in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and in the UK. We also have hotels close to Manchester and Buxton. So altogether we have 27 hotels. We are providing 2 million treatments a year, which makes us the largest spa operator in Europe.

Marina Franolic (00:02:37) - But there's a difference between Ensana and regular spa hotels. So it's your called health spa hotels. Can you share this? What's the difference between those?

Frank Halmos (00:02:49) - Yeah, we want to differentiate us very much from the rest of the industry.

Frank Halmos (00:02:55) - Let's call them like wellness hotels, which I think they also provide very good services. But we want to differentiate ourselves in terms of our strong medical background. So in all our facilities we have doctors who give a certain guidance on what kind of treatments the certain patients would get. And our programs are very much focusing on certain health conditions. So not just on on having fun and relaxing and enjoying the time, pampering yourself in in a nice hotel. So we are focusing on certain health conditions, which is cardiovascular system, the musculoskeletal system. We have certain hotels which deal with fertility programs. So it's a much broader range than just focusing on wellness. During this year, we also introduce new programs which have a much stronger holistic approach, meaning that we are not trying to deal only with symptoms or certain health conditions. We are trying to deal with the general health condition of a certain client, meaning that somebody who has a musculoskeletal problems and has an overweight as well because of unhealthy nutrition or bad lifestyle, then we try to influence the patient so that the person changes the lifestyle, changes the habit of eating and so on, which which gives a much, much stronger impact on the health condition.

Frank Halmos (00:04:37) - What else does make us very different from the rest of the industry is that we are measuring medical data. So for us it's very important that we can prove that we are efficient, that the programs help. And for that reason we are measuring tracking medical data through the whole state, which which again makes us very different from from from other hotels and with the same scope.

Marina Franolic (00:05:03) - How do you do that? You actually measure when the patient or the guest comes at the beginning and then when he or she leaves?

Frank Halmos (00:05:10) - Yeah. We prefer to have also medical data already pre state, which would mean that we, we are shared with certain medical data from the GP of the guest or any doctor of the guest. And yes definitely during arrival we would measure the data again and then during the whole stay we would also use fitness trackers like modern smartwatch devices. And at the end of the of the stay again we would measure the data and then compare. And yeah, the data is showing that the programs are really very efficient.

Frank Halmos (00:05:48) - And then after this day, we would also give the opportunity for a post-sale consultant consultation with the doctor. So where the guest has the opportunity to ask us questions even after this day and this this again is quite unique in the industry.

Marina Franolic (00:06:09) - I wonder how it works. Your business model. So in Croatia, for example, hotels with health facilities rely mostly on insurance and the state payers. What's the situation in your properties? Does this differ from one country to another? Can you tell us a little bit how it works?

Frank Halmos (00:06:30) - Yes. So this segment is a very important segment for our hotels in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. There are certain health conditions which are supported by health insurance and which are financed by the health insurance. So in these hotels, we created specific predefined programs which are very efficient and are very helpful. And most of the guests are staying for 2 or 3 weeks, which is also very beneficial for our hotels. It creates a large volume of guests.

Frank Halmos (00:07:06) - And then additionally, we obviously are selling our inventory also on the free market. But in certain countries, we are missing this segment. So we don't have health insurance guests, for example, in Romania and Hungary and obviously not in the UK, but in Slovakia and Czech Republic. As I mentioned, this segment is still sustainable. It will be important for the next decades, I think. And yeah, so what we realized that the state has realized that certain rate increase was necessary. You know, the inflation in the last two years has has caused a lot of troubles in the hospitality sector. So we had a nice increase in rates in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. And for that reason, we can proudly say that it's a very lively, very important segment for the hotels, and I hope that will remain very long for the future.

Marina Franolic (00:08:10) - But of course, you also have the the ability for clients from other markets that do not necessarily come from the insurance segment to to visit hotels and to enjoy all of the facilities and all of the programs that you have, I guess.

Frank Halmos (00:08:27) - Yeah. So for the free market, our programs are much more tailor made programmes. We have personalised nutrition, we have personalised medical programmes which are very different from pre-defined programmes. We are offering these, these new enhanced health programmes to certain markets. GCC is a very important area location for our hotels, so we have created weight loss programmes, distress programmes and different kind of programmes focusing on a certain health condition, but being very holistic in a certain way as well, which means that we are not only focusing on, for example, obesity problems, but also on respiratory programmes or cardiovascular issues. We are trying to introduce healthy lifestyle to our clients and we also want to give some advice on on how to to stay on health nutrition after this day because, you know, you stay in a hotel for 2 or 3 weeks. We really can do miracles with the clients. But then it's very important that the clients remain in a healthy lifestyle and we are trying to support them with online consultation and and and communication platforms that we created so that we can stay in touch with the customers.

Marina Franolic (00:09:59) - Frank Ensana is owned by UK company CP Holding. Are they also investors in the hotels you operate? Do you manage also hotels for other owners? How does it work?

Frank Halmos (00:10:11) - So CP holdings owns Danubius hotels in in and and hotels as the ultimate owner. They also have hotels in other countries and on the long term CP is is ready to invest in other locations as well. But the main focus is on on operating hotels as an operator. So we try to remain asset light and that would help us that we can expand much, much faster than, you know, buying all the hotels and operating them. We have roughly 25 hotels now in the pipeline in different countries. The focus is on Greece, Italy, Bulgaria in our existing countries. Dock region is definitely something very interesting and and attractive foreign sauna. So we want to expand in the western part of Europe as well. And we have just recently been approached by GCC countries which are very interested in a way of cooperating with sauna, because in these countries health is also a very important topic in recent years.

Frank Halmos (00:11:32) - I think we all can agree it has been become even more important. Uh, they are very much interested in our respiratory programs which have won several awards in the past. We have just now finished a study related to Parkinson disease, which again is a very unique approach compared to other operators.

Marina Franolic (00:11:58) - And what's your preferred hotel in town? Of course.

Frank Halmos (00:12:02) - Do you mean which is my favorite hotel? Yes. I would not really be very polite from myself if I would say any hotel, which as my favorite, it's obviously always the the the new hotel, which we just will take over. I can already tell now because during the time of IDEEA this will be public already. We have signed an agreement for a hotel in San Constantine and Helena in Bulgaria, which is a very nice 400 room five star property, which which I think has a great potential. And for the time being, that will be my favorite hotel.

Marina Franolic (00:12:46) - Okay. Well, congratulations on the new signing.

Frank Halmos (00:12:49) - Thank you very much.

Marina Franolic (00:12:51) - Frank, I would leave this for now. I think we're going to hear a little bit more about Ensana at IDEEA as well. So let's just keep it short and sweet. I'm looking forward to welcoming you to IDEEA in Prague and of course, supporting the further development of Italian hotels. Thank you so much for being today with me.

Frank Halmos (00:13:17) - Thank you very much, Marina. And we are very glad to be here at the idea as a good level partner. And we hope to see you every year again and again. Thank you very much.

Marina Franolic (00:13:27) - Thank you. Have a great day.

Frank Halmos (00:13:29) - Have a great day. Bye.