Day one of ILTM Cannes has seen a swathe of major industry announcements, and the success of the ILTM formula has led its organisers to evolve its portfolio of events around the world.

ILTM Portfolio Director, Alison Gilmore, in opening the first day’s round of press conferences, repeated the words of Chris Kutarna, Author of “the Age of Discovery”, who spoke at the pre-show forum: “We are living the second renaissance and you and I are the map makers.”

Ms Gilmore announced the rebranding of ILTM events: Travel Week Sao Paulo becomes ILTM Latin America Sao Paulo, much bigger and better.

ILTM Americas in Mexico is being renamed ILTM North America. “Product comes from all over the world but buyers come from the individual regions”, explained Gilmore.

ILTM Asia becomes ILTM China – just for China. ILTM Asia Pacific will be in May 2018 in Singapore and ILTM Japan will be incorporated into ILTM Asia.

“Proud Experiences” – specially for LGBT audiences, will be planned for the UK. While it’s not an ILTM event, it will nevertheless be a high-end travel show under the same overall management.

Preferred Places

Lindsey Ueberroth

Preferred Hotels President & CEO Lindsey Ueberroth

Preferred Hotels announced the launch in 2018 of 13 new-build properties, including Hotel Bennett in Charleston, South Carolina, Montage Los Cabos, the Bobby hotel Nashville, Philisplace Vienna, The Middle House in Shanghai.

Group President & CEO Lindsey Ueberroth officially launched a new logo and tagline during ILTM: “Inspiring travel for 50 years”. The group will also be launching a new video campaign highlighting the “finding of inspiration” through travel. 24 videos will be released – two every month – across various platforms.


Capella Hotel Group

Capella Group CEO Nicolas Clayton was present at ILTM for a press conference where he outlined a number of new openings due for the coming years.

Capella Group CEO Nicolas Clayton

Capella Group CEO Nicolas Clayton

“We’ve been working over the past 5-7 years to create a portfolio of exceptional hotels. It takes between three and ten years and even up to 20 years in gestation for some projects. We have set ourselves up for a period of growth now,” said Clayton, adding, “We are a brand created for people who would like to stay in great accommodation and receive exceptional service. We don’t cater for road warriors but focus more on leisure travel.”

Capella’s flagship is Capella Singapore – on Sentosa Island. The group concentrates on smaller properties – 150 rooms or less – which Clayton insists are better when it comes to bringing curated service to guests.

“If your one of several hundred-people checking in on a busy day, that could never be a luxury experience”, said Clayton.

NEW FROM CAPELLA: Amidst a 1930s-themed grand opening, Capella Shanghai celebrated a milestone on 28 October 2017. Since announcing the project in 2015, Capella Shanghai is now fully opened with 55 shikumen villas, 40 luxurious serviced residences, a world-class Auriga Spa and casual chic French dining concept le Comptoir de Pierre Gagnaire as well as la Boulangerie et Patisserie by the legendary chef Pierre Gagnaire in the street – facing Gallery.

Capella Ubud - jacuzzi plunge pool and deck.jpgCapella Ubud set to open in April 2018. Nestled between the rainforest and surrounding rice terraces, along the sacred Wos river, where the local villagers of Keliki regularly gather for festive processions, Capella Ubud, Bali is a boutique, exclusive tented camp that brings together the most luxurious accommodation with a total jungle immersion experience that is set to redefine adventure wellness.

NEW – Capella Bangkok is opening in October 2018, situated on the river. It’s been ten years in the making. The property will boast 100 rooms in total – all facing the river, including seven villas. The target is leisure and corporate small groups.

Capella Maldives is set to open in 2020. It’s a one of a kind development compared to what’s in use today, as it’s part of a three-resort grouping.

Capella Sydney is set to open late in 2020, with Capella being the owner-operator. Capella is taking an historic sandstone government building in the city centre, transforming it into a luxury hotel.

Recent bids have also been made for hotels in Kyoto and Tokyo.

AccorHotels Luxury Portfolio

The AccorHotel group today signed a management agreement with Dubai-based master developer Nakheel for the expansion of the Raffles brand.

ACCOR HOTELS (RAFFLES) Fabrice Malard_G2A0145

(left to right) Sébastien Bazin, Chairman and CEO of AccorHotels and Nakheel Chairman, Ali Rashid Lootah

The agreement, recognised by Nakheel Chairman, Ali Rashid Lootah and Sébastien Bazin, Chairman and CEO of AccorHotels, at a signing ceremony at ILTM Cannes, will lead to the opening of PALM360, a spectacular two-tower development on the Palm Jumeira comprising the Raffles the Palm Dubai Hotel and Raffles Residences PALM360.

Set to open in 2021, palm360 will be the first beachside resort for Raffles in Dubai and the tallest structure on Palm Jumeira, at almost 260 metres high. The hotel will comprise 125 rooms and suites.

ACCOR HOTELS (RAFFLES) Fabrice Malard_G2A0170.jpg

(left to right) Sébastien Bazin, Chairman and CEO of AccorHotels and Nakheel Chairman, Ali Rashid Lootah admire a mock-up of the new project

Sébastien Bazin, Chairman and CEO of AccorHotels commented: “Today’s announcement in collaboration with Nakheel marks the much-anticipated expansion of one of our most illustrious luxury brands as well as a new momentum in our great partnership relation with Chairman Ali Rashid Lootah whom I would like to thank for his support and confidence. The development of Raffles The Palm Dubai Hotel and Raffles Residences PALM360 not only cements our luxury portfolio on a landmark leisure destination but also demonstrates our dedication to developing the most distinct hospitality concepts.”

Chris Cahill.jpg

Chris Cahill, CEO of AccorHotels Luxe group

Chris Cahill, CEO of AccorHotels Luxe group, meanwhile announced dozens of new properties in the pipeline for the group’s various top-end brands during an ILTM press conference.

“Making every stay memorable is at the core of what we do” is the latest catch-phrase of the group, with Cahill insisting, “Our brands consistently aim to be relevant, innovative and aspirational”.

Fairmont: Currently 75 properties, and 16 in the pipeline.

Cahill outlined major renovations that have just been completed in Victoria and Montreal in Canada, and St Andrews, Scotland.  Latest property openings include the Fairmont Istanbul and the Fairmont Royal Palm Marrakech.

Upcoming – Fairmont Austin Texas, a convention hotel and the Fairmont Century Plaza Los Angeles – a major renovation project.

Sofitel: Currently 122 properties, and 24 in the pipeline.

Raffles, the iconic brand, currently has 11 properties and there are six in the pipeline.

Of course, the biggest restoration project is that of Raffles in Singapore. “No walls have been moved, but all infrastructure, cabling, sprinkler systems, etc., are being renewed”, said Cahill. The work has been under way for some time, but the hotel will close this month for several months for the finalisation of the project.

Raffles Warsaw is set to open in 2019, and will be a truly iconic property in Europe.

Cahill also spoke of the group’s agreement to acquire 51% the Orient Express – a project still in progress.

Taj Hotels

Taj Hotels – with the same owners as Jaguar / Land Rover started operating over 100 years ago in Mumbai.

Chinmai Sharma

Taj Hotels Chief Revenue Officer Chinmai Sharma

Chief Revenue Officer Chinmai Sharma reminded the audience that the launch last year of “Tajness” (you can feel it with your eyes closed) was very successful, adding, “This differentiates us from some of the other brands.”

Taj has recently spent a lot of time developing a new multilingual website – in French, German, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, etc., and this year launched a loyalty partnership with Shangri-La – which is going very well and will be built upon.

Taj are in all main markets in India, but also now in London (St James Court), New York – just off Central Park (with a French GM), Boston, Dubai, Langkawi (Malaysia), and Cape Town, just to name a few.

Sharma explained that the group is moving towards “hyper-personalisation” in its palaces, and boasted that Umaid Bhawan Palace Jodhpur was voted the #1 hotel WW on TripAdvisor.

NEW – Exotica resort and spa Andamans – one of the ten best beaches in the world. This exceptional property will be opening in the next couple of months. The Taj Rishikesh resort and spa also opening in the next six months or so.

Two more properties are also soon to be developed in the Emirates – one on the Palm.

Four Seasons

Simon Casson, President – Hotel Operations, EMEA, Four Seasons Hotels began by introducing 15 of the group’s top GMs present at ILTM.

Simon Casson, President – Hotel Operations, EMEA, Four Seasons hotels

Simon Casson, President – Hotel Operations, EMEA, Four Seasons Hotels

New Four Seasons openings were outlined in a video, including New York, South Florida, Anguilla, Sao Paulo, London, Megève (first mountain destination), Athens (Astir Palace), Seychelles (Desroches Island rebuild), Maldives (Voavah, Baa Atol), Hoi An Vietnam, Kyoto, Tianjin (near Beijing), Kuala Lumpur (new hotel in Golden Triangle), Kuwait (CBD), and Tunis (seaside). The London at Ten Trinity Square has been totally renovated, and the hotel has just been awarded its first Michelin star.

“I don’t think I’ve seen another new build as spectacular as the new property in Kuwait”, said Casson, adding “Four Seasons still remains a jewel box, with a sense of style and fashion.”

Interestingly, with the new Megève project, Four Seasons guarantees snow. If there’s no snow around the village, a helicopter takes guests to nearby resorts where they can ski.

The newest Four Seasons is the Ocean Club, Paradise Island, the Bahamas. A ribbon of white sand and azure sea defines the north shore of Paradise Island – home to The Ocean Club. Extending 8 kilometres in length and 1.6 kilometres in width, this idyllic hideaway was, until the mid 20th century, a little-used islet known as Hog Island.


Seabourn Group CEO Rick Meadows introduced a new ship due to be launched in May 2018: Seabourn Ovation, with 300 suites (600 guests). All cabins are oceanfront with verandas. The ship begins sailing in Summer 2018 in Northern Europe.

Seabourn Group CEO Rick Meadows

Seabourn Group CEO Rick Meadows

Interior design is by Adam Tihany, renowned for his design of a number of luxury hotels. “The aim was to make the ships feel like private luxury yachts”, quipped Meadows.

Meadows went back over a number of key partnerships, such as the one announced this year with Dr Andrew Weil in the field of wellness, or the entertainment partnership with Sir Tim Rice, featuring an interactive show on-board. Star chef Thomas Keller has partnered with Seabourn to create “The Grill by Thomas Keller”. This is being enhanced by a new relationship with K&M chocolate – created to be the “world’s highest quality chocolate”.


Virtuoso CEO and Chairman Matthew Upchurch, winner of this year’s Mary Gostelow award, hosted a press conference on the afternoon of ILTM Day One, and began by saying, “I used to think travel agents didn’t do a good job until I became one and realised how hard it is.”

Matthew Upchurch

Virtuoso CEO and President Matthew Upchurch

In defence of the previous idea that OTAs would kill off travel agents, Upchurch responded that “People are wanting more authentic experiences. You can’t take the human out of humanity. Relationships are all important.”

One of the reasons travel business is doing so well, says Upchurch, is the fact that for the first time in history, four generations are all travelling at the same time.

He added, “People don’t go to an advisor for information, or to make a booking. They go to them for curation, assistance, contacts and connections, and top make life simpler and fun.”

While many today fear technology, and robots and AI may be taking jobs away, Upchurch said there can be a good side wherein you can “automate the predictable so that you can humanise the exceptional”.

“A really great advisor is a specialist in you”, said Upchurch. “No one can know about everything, but they can become a specialist in the client. The Virtuoso network of partners is there to help with the detail.”

Key trends according to Virtuoso:

  • Multi-gen / skip-gen trips
  • Active travel
  • River cruising
  • Food and wine
  • Celebration travel

Coming soon: Virtuoso is set to launch, in the coming days, a new whitepaper on sustainability. Watch this space.