Mandarin Oriental consolidates position among world’s leading luxury hotel chains

Christoph Mares, Executive Vice President Operations Director, Europe, Middle East, Africa and India at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group has shared exclusively with CPP-LUXURY.COM his company’s undertakings in consolidating its position among the top luxury hoteliers worldwide. Mares also oversees Mandarin Oriental‘s Food & Beverage operations globally.

Speaking about his company’s performance in 2013, Mares said: ”EMEA has continued to be the second best perfoming region after Asia, and we have been blessed with an exceptional RevPar. In Europe manage 4 fully owned hotels: Paris, Geneva, Munich and London and we have made significant progress with our upcoming openings in Bodrum, where we expect to deliver the first residences by March 2014 and to open the resort in time for the 2014 Summer Season”

As for new openings in Europe, Mares said: ”Last year we signed a long-term management agreement for a property in Istanbul, which will be developed by the same owners of our Bodrum resort hotel. Turkey is a strategic market for us, both outgoing and incoming and opening first the property in Bodrum will give us leverage on Istanbul, where, I expect the presently over-heated luxury hotel market to consolidate by the time we open in 2016”.

On Bodrum, Mares added: ”We are proud of our achievements in Bodrum, which will be an exceptional complex, both with luxury serviced residences and a resort. It is an ambitious development – it will be the first resort in the Mediterranean basin with a helipad and no less than 4 dining outlets”.

Other important developments for the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group in Europe will be the much awaited renovations of the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London, which Mares estimates to start this Summer and the opening of the Mandarin Oriental, Milan by the end of 2014, property which he said is ”progressing well”.

”In London, our hotel is housed within a protected heritage Victorian building in one of the city’s most prominent locations. We already renovated the Spa and introduced two highly successful F&B outlets by celebrated Michelin starred Chefs Heston Blumenthal and Daniel Bouloud. The renovation of the accommodations and other public spaces requires a very complex planning given the specifics of the building. ”

With the exception of Prague, all the other operating European properties of Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group (Paris, London, Barcelona, Munich and Geneva) feature fine dining by a celebrity Michelin starred Chefs. ‘For us it is not so much about accolades of the Chef but how particular is each dining concept and how true it is to the location. Our aim is to provide dining concepts by top Chefs, but which are accessible.’ said Mares.

In 2013, ten restaurants throughout Mandarin Oriental’s chain were honoured in the 2014 Michelin Guides, bringing the current total number of restaurants in the Group’s portfolio to 11 with 16 Michelin stars. This is more than any other hotel group in the world.

Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group recently introduced complimentary high speed internet for all room categories and airport transfers for suite guests, for travelers booking their stay on the website. ”Guests tend to book shorter stays and our intent has been to provide such complimentary services to entice them to provide us as much information on their preferences, ahead of their stay. This is essential in our endeavour to extend the highest quality service. It takes less than 5 minutes to fill out additionally this data, when making the reservation, and thus we are able to offer a most personalized service, from the bedding and temperature preferences to Concierge and dining preferences”.

On whether Spas can pose challenges to the development model of a luxury hotel the calibre of Mandarin Oriental, Mare said: ”We have not made any compromises and we take time with our development. Owners and developers have become increasingly aware of the value added that Spas represent whether it is an urban or a resort hotel. Much like our restaurants, Spas need to stay current and relevant, while they must relate to local specifics.”

On the leadership of the group, Mandarin Oriental has made strategic appointments which have ben greatly contributing to the progress of the group in 2013. In the region overseen by Christoph Mares, two new Area Managers were appointed:  Nejat Sarp - Area Manager Turkey and Philippe Leboeuf as Area Manager, maintaining his role as General Manager of Mandarin Oriental, Paris.

Christoph Mares, EVP Europe, Middle East, Africa & India at Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group