Mandarin Oriental executives see an improvement in luxury travel

Mandarin Oriental Hotel

Luxury hotel chain Mandarin Oriental is planning on almost doubling its international presence in the next three years. The hotel investment and management group will grow from about 24 deluxe hotels and resorts currently, to about 42 in the next 36 months,  Jill Kluge, group director of brand communications told Reuters at a media luncheon in New York.

The group also confirmed its increased interest in the Chinese market, turning its attention on a small but growing group of high-income Chinese travelers. “We are aware of how important China is going to become,” said Kluge, adding that hotels in Taipei, Milan, Moscow and Costa Rica are all under development.

This week, Mandarin Oriental announced it would manage a new luxury hotel in Doha, the capital of Qatar. The Doha location will help build the hotel chain’s name recognition in the Middle East and there will be a “superior return” on the development, said Chief Marketing Officer Michael Hobson, in an interview. Hobson declined to be more specific on projections for financial returns.

General managers of Mandarin Oriental locations in Barcelona, New York and Tokyo expressed a positive outlook on luxury business and leisure travel despite the fact that travelers’ enthusiasm is tempered by worries of another financial downturn. “People are traveling, but their durations are shorter,” said Christian Hassing, general manager at Mandarin Oriental Tokyo. “Travelers would allocate a week or 10 days. Now it’s four to six days.”

And hotel customers are looking for deals, said New York Mandarin Oriental general manager Rudolf Tauscher. “It’s all the old guests,” said Tauscher. “Just USD 200 less.”