Emlyn Brown brings more than 20 years of international experience to Accor as the global vice president of wellbeing. Joining the Accor team in 2018, Brown began his wellness career in 1996 and has held several progressive management positions throughout Europe, The Middle East, and Asia since then. Over his career, Brown has led group operations of several leading luxury spa and fitness operators. During his time at Resense Spas S.A, he held the position as global design director and was responsible for managing corporate strategies, wellbeing concepts, and related design services. He also served as managing director of Asia at Resense Spas S.A, accountable for the management and growth of the portfolio in China and southeast Asia. Prior to that, Brown was the director at GOGO Hospitality and also held senior positions at Six Senses Resorts & Spas, where he was the regional director for Europe and later the operations director for Asia. Prior to working within luxury hospitality, Brown held senior operating roles with Holmes Place Lifestyle clubs in Switzerland and Germany.
Taking his storied and global background in wellness in mind, Brown shares his thoughts on wellbeing.
What does wellness mean to you?
Wellbeing, in my opinion, is a sense of being cared for among peaceful, calming surroundings. It’s a sense that all is right in the world at that moment or period and is an outcome generated by your wellness habits. So, for me, wellness is actions and activities you engage with and enjoy as a way of supporting your personal wellbeing.
What are your favorite things to do to maintain your personal wellbeing?
I am as active as time allows: Gym and fitness and my Peloton plus an off-and-on relationship with doing yoga badly and mind wandering meditation. I love to read, which helps me relax, or watch sports, especially the premier league, and I consume a lot of podcasts and good movies when on the move. Cooking at home is a particular passion, ensuring I invest conscious time with family and friends.
Is there a specific fitness activity that you love and why?
I love bathing: European-style sauna, steam, and hot and cold therapy, and I love to visit various resorts where this is offered. I get a deep sense of relaxation and calm, am revived, and feel it’s elemental wellness at its best. I just recently spent seven days at a retreat with sauna four times a day, or Aufguss (a sauna ritual lasting about 15 minutes) and cold bathing. I am attending the Wim Hof Method Academy in October. I also visited the bucket-list Blue Lagoon in Iceland this year. There is a true revival in this historical and social wellness practice, which is great to see.
What is your favorite healthy beverage (alcoholic or non-alcoholic), and do you have any insider tips for preparing it?
Kombucha for gut health and light pinot noir. Sadly, I have no tips to prepare it other than to invest in a decent corkscrew. However, I find that a morning that starts with hot water and lemon really supports my metabolism and is super easy to do every day.
What person in wellness do you most admire and why?
I admire Rich Roll. He is a vegan ultra-endurance athlete, full-time wellness and plant-based nutrition advocate, popular public speaker, and produces an excellent podcast series. He overcame personal challenges at 40 to become a plant-based ultra-athlete, and I find him to be a real inspiration. His podcast is always engaging and informative.
What is the best piece of wellness advice you have ever received and from whom?
We recently produced our Accor wellness podcast series, Health to Wealth, and loved what fitness and recovery expert Harry Jameson said, “Try to sweat every day.” Whether this is a brisk walk, enjoying a sauna, gardening, or working out, I love the simplicity of this and the way it breaks it down to simple actions. We must continue to democratize wellness and ensure it is for all.
What do you think is the most exciting wellness innovation you have recently discovered?
I was asked to visit a true garage tech start-up in LA to test a piece of meditation tech. Resonate is a combination of light, haptic, and sound therapy that really works. We are going to partner with this incredible new company to bring the experience to our spas and hotels.
What do you think is the most overused word or words in wellness?
What is your favorite place for a healthy vacation or escape?
I love to go to the mountains, winter or summer, but I have recently started to enjoy it more in the summertime. Chamonix, France, is a favorite place, along with Banff, Canada, but I feel at home anywhere where the backdrop is mountains.
Is there a particular wellness company or brand that truly impresses you with their efforts and why?
Many, but three that come to mind are: Hyperice, which is constantly innovating in the tech x recovery space; Lanserhof, which is dedicated to true diagnostic-based wellness delivery; and Kamalaya Koh Samui, a passionate proponent of health and wellbeing in a Thai magical resort setting.
What is your favorite self-care routine?
Having lived in Turkey for several years, I love to receive traditional hammam, which I do once per month, or a vigorous Russian banya treatment. Despite not having much of a hairline, I enjoy classical barbering and hot towel shaves in rock and roll barbers like Barber Barber and its founder, the irrepressible Johnny BaBa. I always go to a new one if I am in a city. And I have a hidden passion for sheet masks—it’s a great way to revive tired skin.
What wellness-related books or authors do you recommend, and why?
I would highly recommend Matthew McConaughey’s Greenlights. While not a wellness book per se, his approach to life, passion, and focus is an inspiration with some real comedy along the way—he is an explorer and a seeker, which I respect. It’s best to do the audiobook for the full McConaughey Texan drawl.
What brings you joy?
I love dogs and would like to own a long-haired dachshund, but my travel schedule does not allow it. Also, an off-the-beaten-path trip, a backpacking adventure with no itinerary where I could wander a country as I did in my youth. Travel reveals a world of delight and opens our minds in wonderful ways. Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”