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Behind the success of contemporary luxury hotel chains

The ever growing competitiveness among luxury hotel brands worldwide has certainly had a positive effect on hoteliers, which have grasped on the opportunity to differentiate their concept, thus aiming to gain a unique positioning meant to provide long term business feasibility.  Similarly the segmentation business philosophy of fashion houses, which created in the early 90’s the so called ‘’second lines’’, most of the international hotel groups have sought to create different brands, with individual identities within the same group. Among the various layers of luxury positioning, contemporary luxury hotel brands have been the most dynamic in terms of development.

 

CPP-LUXURY.COM takes an in-depth look at the endeavour of the major international hotel groups to refine the positioning of their contemporary luxury brands in the past decade.

 

DEFINITION

 

Five star versus luxury :  most of the hotel chains prefer to position their brand as luxury, rather than five star; the five star positioning has been less used given that there are important differences in the legislation of rating hotels even within the European Union, let alone among major emerging countries. 

 

Contemporary: modern, trendy – many hotel chains also use contemporary to highlight an understated type of luxury

 

Design: cutting edge, innovative, creative

 

Collection: Andaz considers its hotels a collection of individual luxury properties, each with its own character, usually buildings that tell a story, while W Hotels consider their hotels a chain of hotels with a consistent concept worldwide

 

LOCATION

 

All the chains seem to agree unanimously that location is of utmost importance. However, this is relative, since each chain has properties which are quite at a distance from the city centre – Andaz London, W Hotel Barcelona or Me by Melia Barcelona.

 

TYPE OF PROPERTY

 

Andaz Hotels has a preference for distinct locations, iconic heritage buildings which were reconverted. For instance, in the case of Andaz West Hollywood, the property first opened as Gene Autry’s Hotel Continental in 1963 and was the Sunset Strip’s first high-rise hotel. Later renamed the Continental Hyatt House, the hotel was aptly nicknamed the “Riot House” during its„70s rock star-studded heyday.  While on break from performing at the numerous nightclubs that still line the Sunset Strip, touring musicians once brazenly used the hotel’s balconies, hallways and rooftops to make tawdry headlines. Among the hotel’s noteworthy moments: Keith Richards hurling a large TV from his tenth-floor room; Jim Morrison dangling from a window by his fingertips and Axl Rose tossing seared steaks to his many fans below.

The hotel was so synonymous with rocker antics that the films “Almost Famous” and “This is Spinal Tap” were filmed there.

 

W Hotels have opted for very modern structures, most of its hotels are newly built. Even in existing buildings like the W Hotel Istanbul or the upcoming W Hotel in Paris, W Hotels have managed to compensate on the interior design the fact that due to permit restrictions, the facades of the respective buildings could not be changed. W Hotels also have iconic designs such as the dramatic ‘’vessel’’ of W Hotel Barcelona or the bay curved shape of the upcoming W Hotel Singapore which is situated on the Sentosa Cove peninsula. Each W Hotel and Resort is uniquely inspired by its destination, mixing cutting-edge design with local influences and creating a place to play or work by day or to mix and mingle in high-energy spaces by night.

 

 

PERSONALIZED SERVICE

 

Speaking to CPP-LUXURY.COM, Alexander Hugot,  Vice President Europe of ME Hotels & Resorts said ‘’The experiential show is orchestrated by the Aura Experience Manager. So much more than guest relations, they sit halfway between a concierge and a DJ, a stylist and a tour operator, a personal confidant and a private secretary. The Aura Manager’s job is to know their hotel and city back-to-front, to get to know each client personally, and use this knowledge to make the hotel’s service truly bespoke.’’

Tristan Dowell, Director of Brands (Andaz and Park Hyatt) shared with CPP-LUXURY.COM his company’s concept of personalized service ‘’ Our Andaz hosts offer guests distinctive, friendly, and personalized service, with a very uncomplicated process. The decision to have Andaz hosts really goes back to our extensive research we conducted with this brand. Customers want to break down  barriers between the hotel and guests, and Andaz delivers on that desire and creates  a community by removing the front desk, the bar counter, and other traditional hotel features. By creating this environment, it demands more engaging personalities to ensure that we delight customers from the moment they enter an Andaz. ANDAZ HOSTS: Combine the traditional roles of concierge, doorman, bell–‐attendant, and front office agent / Interactive, engaging, friendly / A local host / Welcoming hosts create a seamless and thoughtful introduction to Andaz / Espresso or a glass of wine is readily available to guests in the Lounge’’

 

Eva Ziegler, Global Brand Leader, W Hotels and Le Meridien told CPP-LUXURY.COM that the team of each W Hotels is trained to engage with guests in a very friendly manner, efficient and anticipating needs. Through the W Talent program, W Hotel personnel recruitment sessions are organized as castings – from the way the openings are advertising to the set-up of the room which makes candidates feel like they are participating in a casting. Their understanding of the W philosophy is essential in providing a consistent service at any W Hotel location worldwide.

 

INNOVATIVE CONCEPTS

 

Tristan Dowell : ‘’We feel that we have really succeeded in this area, especially with the recent launch of the Andaz Salon, which is a program that creates an atmosphere where ideas are born, exchanged, and expanded, enabling guests to connect, collaborate and fuel their passion for work and life. The Andaz Salon is an on-property program that focuses on delivering creative experiences through the guidance of a subject matter expert and discussion with a collection of local influencers.

These Salons are designed to inspire our guests via a new experience, connect them with like-minded individuals, ultimately sparking their creativity.  Andaz hosts local cultural events and partners with up and coming cultural leaders in the area Such as artists, purveyors, musicians, fashion designers, photographers.’’

Examples include:

Farmers Market at Andaz Wall Street

“ tbd” The Bar Downstairs

Art at Andaz 5th Avenue

Fish Market Excursion and Cooking Class at Andaz Liverpool Street, London

Heard @ Andaz and Art Seen at Andaz West Hollywood

Wine and Cheese Tasting at Andaz San Diego

 

PORTRAIT OF MOST LOYAL GUESTS

 

Tristan Dowell defined the most loyal guests of Andaz as ‘’our customer profile is an individual that

is craving cultural and inspiring experiences also known as the Professional Bohemian. They are increasingly influential in shaping culture through fashion, communications, engineering, entertainment and finance. Our customers along with embracing an authentic hotel experiences are striving for venues that help spark creativity in their work or social scene’’.

 

Alexander Hugot, VP Europe ME Hotels & Resorts told CPP-LUXURY.COM: ‘’The clientele is appreciated not in terms of traditional demographics, but psychographics – those with a decisive taste for cutting-edge art and design, international cuisine and world music.’’

 

Eva Ziegler, W Hotels: ‘’It began with the recognition that there are guests who seek a balance between style and substance – in their own lives, and in the destinations they choose. Each W hotel embodies this balance with a strikingly modern approach to design that is as refreshing, accessible and comfortable as one’s own living space, with an emphasis on comfort, attentive service and exceptional amenities’’.

 

ENGAGING WITH CUSTOMERS

 

Alexander Hugot, ME Hotels: ‘’Engaging with each and every client is central to the brand concept’’.



Tristan Dowell, Andaz Hotels: ‘’Engaging with our customers is a top priority for Andaz. We do this through our Hosts, in addition we have an engaging arrival experience through our lounge. At each Andaz we want to engage and welcome our guest, like welcoming someone into your home. Our technology also enhances This as the host can be in conversation and check in the guest with a tablet or iTouch, whilst The customer enjoys and glass of wine or coffee. Engaging with our customers throughout a customers stay is paramount.  Once, the guest has departed we also want to engage through our Andaz Salon program. Share event and participation online. At the heart of this brand is our guest. We want to create an atmosphere where ideas are born, exchanged and expanded, enabling our guests to truly connect, collaborate and fuel their passion for  work and life’’

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