Hong Kong’s boutique luxury hotel, The Upper House, is perched above Pacific Place in Admiralty. With panoramic views of the harbour, a selection of delectable cuisine and consistent world-class service, the hotel has earned its high reputation since its opening in 2009. We spoke with The Upper House’s Hotel Manager, Kristina Snaith-Lense on what wellness means to her and the hotel, how to reboot after a busy week, and what her ideal retreat experience looks like.
Could you tell us about your life before the Upper House? I started in the industry at the age of 16 doing summer hotel internships and part-time catering stints and it’s been all upwards ever since! I studied at Ecole Hotelier de Lausanne where the passion for hotels continued to grow. I have been privileged enough to have worked with some of the best brands in the world including Mandarin Oriental, Ritz Carlton and Grand Hyatt. None have felt more like home as much as Swire Hotels where I have now been for the past eight-plus years. My journey through the industry has always been in operations and heavily guest-focused. I realised early on where my strengths lie and what I love about hotels which are the people.
How do you reboot after a hectic week? I reboot with a really long hike or with running laps to sweat it out! Hong Kong is such an amazing city with some of the most incredible nature trails. My husband and I trained for trail walking five years ago and it was such an eye-opener to see the possibilities of hiking life in our hometown.
What does wellness mean to you? It’s a lifestyle for me and it’s all about balance. I exercise five to six out of seven as routine, which to me is just about moving, sweating and being outdoors in the mornings. It just makes me happy more than anything. My family and team know that if I don’t get this time each morning, they will encounter a very grumpy person! I much prefer to be outdoors in nature running, hiking or swimming. However, I do work out with my trainer at “The Gym” twice a week which I love—they follow functional training so it’s mainly strength, conditioning and stretch-focused. I follow a largely plant-based, gluten-free diet, but have a serious penchant for cheese. I also love gummies—M&S make vegan ones which are the best! I tend to allow myself to have most things in moderation rather than being super strict. As soon as someone tells me I’m not allowed to have something, all bets are off.
Describe an ideal retreat experience here in five words.Vegan, yoga, sunshine, nature, sleep.
What is an interesting routine that you do daily that sets you up for success? Before I get out of bed, I run through my gratitude list, starting the day thinking of all the things small and big I am thankful for, which really helps to set the tone for my day. I’m also a list fanatic—making them for work, home and personal at the start and end of each day keeps me in check.
What do you hope guests will take away from their stay? A beautiful memory and a story to tell of their stay. We are a relatively small property, so our House team is really focused on delivering that truly bespoke experience to each of our guests. We want them to fall in love with the side of Hong Kong that interests them most.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? Take joy in every day and celebrate the small wins. Try not to sweat things out of your control and instead, let them go with ease. You can’t control the way others think or feel, only the way you respond. This takes a lot of discipline and practice. Something my father and brother Julian help to remind me of daily.
You have set and achieved big goals. What process do you swear by? I am definitely a goal-oriented person, but not as patient as I’d like to be with the process! I’m very lucky to be surrounded by a truly fantastic and positive support system, from my husband, my family and close friends, to my team and mentors at work from over the past eight years. These are my people, they are a tribe that lifts me up and makes me feel valued so that I can achieve the goals I set for myself.
Could you tell us about the next wellness initiatives at the Upper House? Yes with great excitement! Following on from our March month of wellness and global wellness weekend activities, we will be launching a 360 wellness experience in residence from September to November which will encompass some delicious new food and tea experiences, more great sweat sessions with our five wellness ambassadors. And finally, we will be launching a dedicated spa suite. More details coming soon!