Serious business

Building a health resort in the city: Interview with Fivelements founders

Chicco and Lahra Tatriele describe how the trend for healthy living is heading into Hong Kong - and they're following. By MARK TJHUNG

It all started in 2007 with a retreat in Bali. What was the inspiration for Fivelements?

Lahra: Even before we met, we were both frequent travellers to Bali. I wondered how we could package the best of Bali: the ritualistic culture, the very universal principles of sustainability, village community, family structure, respect for nature, and the healing and wellness practices. Meanwhile, Chicco’s dream was to do an eco-resort. So we decided to do it there.

You’ve opened a branch in the Hong Kong Golf and Tennis Academy in Sai Kung. How do you translate the concept to the city?

Chicco: We researched shared cultural, medicinal and artistic influences between the Balinese and Chinese, and we’ve been able to bring that into the design and the treatments. We see it as an authentic, new expression of Fivelements with inspiration from Bali but with a Chinese cultural, historic and wellness link.

Food is such a big thing in Hong Kong. How do you want to position the food of Fivelements here?

C: For our Bali retreats, we had the idea of only serving plant-based cuisine – and it seemed like a crazy idea at the time. But what looked like a weak point became our strength. Now we get awards for plant-based foods. This cuisine is growing in popularity now because of its sustainability. When we do Fivelements Dinner Club menus, it’s a five-course tasting with new dishes every time, and that’s where the creativity really shines.

What’s your take on the growing trend of seeking wellness?

L: Wellness is infiltrating many aspects of life. People want to live in better buildings, be in better offices, do and eat better things. The way we’ve been living for the past few decades is absolutely causing illness. Disease is on the rise, and that’s bad for businesses, so now the corporate world is behind wellness. We will see insurance companies starting to cover much more of the holistic services.

What would your advice be to people who want to do their own thing?

L: You need to have a strong enough conviction to stay with it and successfully execute – and sometimes the execution period is very long. We started on a shoestring, with a strong conviction towards our concept, and an even stronger conviction to do something good and offer something that would help people reach higher clarity in their lives. And sometimes there are periods when you do feel a little bewildered. I think it’s important to turn to experts where you don’t have the expertise and not to feel that you have to have all of the answers.

What’s next for the company?

C: We have a big vision of transforming individual wellness and transforming humanity. We see Fivelements going into financial centres, bringing the sacred arts of yoga, meditation and mindfulness, as well as the cuisine and nutritional aspects. Additionally, we’ll also want to expand to more typical wellness destinations.

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