AccorHotels defines luxury in a way that “suits the personae of the guest”
It’s now been a little while since the integration of Raffles, Fairmont and Swissôtel into the AccorHotels group. We asked Chris Cahill, CEO of AccorHotels Luxury Brands what the net result of this integration has been in terms of growth potential.
All our brands are well situated across some of the world’s fastest growing markets. The acquisition of Raffles, Fairmont and Swissôtel brands provided AccorHotels with a stronger footprint in North America and three remarkable and trusted brands that are internationally recognised for their iconic luxury hotels, unforgettable experiences and high- touch, personalised guest service. Since the transaction, 35+ properties under Fairmont, Raffles and Swissôtel brands have been signed. There is great acceptance and reception from potential owners.
What is AccorHotels group’s definition of “luxury”?
Luxury has indeed become a widely used term, complicated by its personal nature and meaning: one person’s idea of luxury may be a standard or another person’s excess. We de ne luxury at each of our brands in a way that suits the personae of the guest. At Le Royal Monceau, Raffles Paris, for example we might offer a bespoke gallery tour based on a guest’s interest in emerging artists, designed by our art concierge.
ONE PERSON’S IDEA OF LUXURY MAY BE A STANDARD OR ANOTHER PERSON’S EXCESS
Fairmont Gold, a hotel within a hotel concept, provides a distinct level of exclusivity, exceptional service and personalized luxury for discerning travellers. While Fairmont Fit customised program delivers in-room workout apparel and running shoes fitted to visiting guests. At MGallery hotels, “Inspired by Her” offers a range of products, gestures and services that address the distinct needs of female travellers.
Each of our brands aim for a high degree of personalization and individual recognition and an approach, be it in wellness, design or our culinary offerings that inspires guests to feel healthier, happier and more enriched by staying with us.
What will be the biggest challenges in coming years?
Customising the hotel experience for each individual guest requires a high degree of congruity between our guests, our technology and our service providers. We must pay attention and track data on guest preferences, while remaining discreet, respectful of privacy and focused entirely on the needs, comfort and ease of our guests. We are fortunate that we can rely on the genuine warmth of our colleagues and the sophistication of our technology to nd that balance.
How do you work with travel professionals in terms of “pro” interfaces and eventual incentives?
AccorHotels always consider the luxury travel advisor as a critical part of our distribution. We de nitely want to develop the partnership with them because they provide us important business to our hotels; through that partnership we can get much more information about our clients and we are able to personalise their experience in the hotels and create everlasting memories.
ACCORHOTELS ALWAYS CONSIDER THE LUXURY TRAVEL ADVISOR AS A CRITICAL PART OF OUR DISTRIBUTION
What renovations and openings will be the most interesting over the next year or so?
Raffles will open the doors at the beloved Raffles Europejski Warsaw and will follow that up with the eagerly anticipated reveal of the magnificent restoration of Raffles Singapore before launching a new oasis – the Raf es Maldives Meradhou. For Fairmont, our sights are set on the exploration of exciting new markets, with Fairmont Austin in Texas, Fairmont in the Maldives the recently opened Fairmont Marrakech in Morocco and Fairmont Amman in Jordan. Fairmont has also reflagged the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles which is currently undergoing a massive renovation. We have also signi cantly renovated some of our major landmarks in North America such as the Fairmont Empress in Victoria, British Columbia with $60 million restoration and Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth in Montreal, another $140 million renovation project. As for the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto, it has just started a massive five-year renovation program.
Sofitel has recently introduced three stunning new properties in Asia with the opening of signature hotels including Sofitel Kuala Lumpur Damansara, Sofitel Singapore City Centre and Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour. A new fashionable property will also be opening in Mexico City. We have exciting news on our SO/ brand which is expanding its presence in Auckland, Jakarta, Samui, Kuala Lumpur and other key European cities soon to be revealed. MGallery just opened three new addresses including two that mark first steps in Bosnia and Dubaï: Victory House, London Leicester Square in the UK, The Retreat Palm Dubai in UAE and Tarcin Forest Resort & Spa, Sarajevo in Bosnia.
Pullman also benefits from a strong development with upcoming openings such as Pullman Nadi Resort & Spa Fiji, Pullman Luang Prabang, Pullman Mandalay Mingalar, Pullman Tokyo Tamachi.
The Chinese outbound market has everyone’s attention at the moment. How important will this sector become in the next years, and what is AccorHotels doing to address the growth?
We have a strong presence in China since over three decades and now count a total of over 230 properties. Our recent strategic partnership with Huazhu Group is accelerating our expansion in today’s largest and fastest-growing domestic travel markets and the world’s largest outbound travel market. The alliance offers customers of both loyalty programs (together over 100 million card holders) the opportunity to access a network of over 7,000 hotels globally, thus strengthening our leadership in the Chinese market.
We also have five sales offices in China, which allows us to be in direct contact with this clientele, for group or leisure requests. Where Chinese clientele represents an important part of the hotel activity, we have dedicated employees that speak Chinese (sometimes it is even their native language).
Photos: Chris Cahill, CEO, AccorHotels Luxury Brands; Sofitel Shanghai Hongqiao, China