BEHIND URBAN RETREAT — AÏSHTI TALKS TO REENA HAMMER
Established in 2002 as a first of its kind super salon concept and taking up residence on the top floor of Harrods department store in London, Urban Retreat has opened its first international branch at Aïshti by the Sea. Hosting a members-only gym, rooftop pool and café restaurant, the new Urban Retreat at Aïshti by the Sea gives you access to a wealth of beauty expertise and the best treatments and facilities across the city, all the while taking in a stunning sea view and enjoying the world’s finest brands.
Following in her father’s footsteps entrepreneur George Hammer, who has been involved in the beauty and wellness industry for decades, Reena Hammer was appointed managing director of Urban Retreat earlier this year. Reena spoke to Aïshti about growing up in a talented family, her love for her job and how Beirut’s Urban Retreat came about.
You studied Latin & English Literature at University, what drew you towards working for Urban Retreat?
Growing up as the only child in a family run business it was inevitable that there would be an element of expectation that I would join at some point, but before I made any decision I wanted to go and study something that I loved – something that was completely unrelated to business, hence why I studied Latin & English Literature.
I have always worked and initially worked with my father on business ventures completely unrelated to beauty but having two very dynamic and talented parents who worked in the beauty industry, I soon realized that I had a lot of the knowledge required to make it already and my love for beauty and an increasing desire to join the family business soon followed.
What is the most interesting part of your job? What keeps you motivated?
I’m lucky that I adore my job. It is so diverse and I get to do so many things, from working with some of the best brands in the world devising strategies on how best to market their products within Urban Retreat to working alongside architects and designers on all our new projects. I have especially loved being part of the design and build process for Urban Retreat at Aishti – the place looks stunning and I know will be a huge hit!
What was one of the most well received projects you introduced to UR?
Without question, the Moroccan Hammam that we built in Harrods is quite simply amazing – it’s like nothing ever done before. Admittedly it was a big risk and a very complex build as it is on the 5th floor of the world’s most famous store and there were lots of elements that needed to be considered. The finished space is just breathtaking. You really do feel like you have been transported to Morocco once you step inside. Our customers and the press both love it.
I am also really glad that we have been able to bring in Andrew Barton to lead our hair team. Never before have we had a well-known and award winning creative hair stylist leading the salon. Not only is he incredibly talented but he’s also incredibly humble and the whole team have really warmed to him. We can’t wait for him to come out and start seeing clients in Beirut too. I’m confident that everyone will love him!
What is your proudest achievement so far at UR?
Becoming Managing Director of Urban Retreat earlier this year has to be my proudest achievement. Being responsible for the team and the vision is very exciting – It’s both a personal and professional achievement for me.
What is your personal favorite UR treatment?
I wish I had more time for treatments! I do get my nails done every week as a treat to myself and when I can I will book in for an Urban Retreat praffin wax body treatment. It really is excellent – it leaves skin smooth, reduces water retention aids in firming and banishes any aches and pains!
Why did you choose Beirut to open their first international UR?
Beirut is an amazing city – very cosmopolitan; it has ties to Europe and the women are elegant, stylish & classy plus they are already very interested in beauty. We have many Lebanese clients at our flagship in Harrods, so we knew it would be a success. Really, the opportunity came by pure chance when my father met Tony Salame. When you meet Mr Salame you realize you have to jump in – what he’s doing right now is dynamic and completely forward thinking and we felt this would be a great thing to be part of.
Do you have any new ideas or projects underway?
We have a phrase in England – ‘all the buses come at once’. So we have multiple opportunities but it’s about which one is the right one to do. We will be opening more Urban Retreat’s in the future and we intend to grow and expand our own product line too.
Aïshti by the Sea, Antelias
T. 04 711 940