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In Conversation With: COO and Partner of luxury hotel group LHM

800 548 Hamish Kilburn

Hotel Designs editor Hamish Kilburn catches up with Hans Joerg Meier the COO and Partner of LHM to discuss regional differences, design ethos’ and the challenges that come with setting up a new luxury hotel group…

With a new hotel about to open just over the horizon, which will add to the LHM (Legian Hotel Management) portfolio, the luxe hotel group is starting to find its bare-foot luxury feet in the international hotel design sands. Currently based in Indonesia with plans to expand across the globe, its ambition to “raise expectations of what a holiday can be” has been set in stone by the COO and co-founder Hans Joerg Meier. As its next hotel, The Legian Sire, Lombok, prepares for a Q1 2019 Launch, we caught up with Joerg Meier to find out  what the future for the hotel group looks like.

Hamish Kilburn: What has LHM identified as differences in markets between Indonesia and Europe?
Hans Joerg Meier: Travellers from Europe are seeking an authentic Indonesian/Balinese cultural experience – the warm and sincere service/hospitality. Furthermore, European guests want to travel around the island, visiting temples, renowned rice paddies, tasting local cuisine and attending cooking classes. Many are also keen to attend/participate in a local ceremony. Our regular guests from the local Indonesian market are very familiar with Bali/Seminyak where The Legian is located, and most seek a getaway to relax in the hotel from the pressures of their working lifestyle. They come to wine and dine and visit friends. This pattern is also similar with our regional markets from Hong Kong and Singapore. Both European and Indonesian markets are very interested in our wellness programs and following this we have recently launched a new wellness concept ‘Wellness by the Legian’ which will be available in all LHM hotels.

HK: There seems to be a lot of emphasis on experiences when it comes to luxury travel. Is the experience more important than the product these days? 
HJM: I am of the opinion that both are equally important. A good product is imperative and superior guest experiences personifies the product and vice versa. They synergize each other and are essential for the luxury traveller.

Image caption: Legian Seminyak, Bali

HK: Can you explain the design ethos of LHM properties?
HJM: Each LHM property is/will be exquisitely crafted by renowned architects and interior designers as well as legendary local artisans. This will reflect the sophisticated taste of our refined clientele who will feel right at home within LHM’s exceptional natural timeless surroundings, each one tastefully and utterly unique in their style.

HK: What are the main challenges for a new hotel group in today’s hotel landscape?
HJM: The main challenges include coming up with unique selling/marketing ideas which clearly differentiate the brand from the many competitors. It is also important to have a clear strategy in place and stick to it, not to follow every single trend, but rather create a bespoke experience. New hotel groups need to have a solid structure in place which allows the brand to expand on firm grounds without becoming too corporate. The key element is to form a strong team and nurture talents to take on more responsibility and to fully embrace the culture of the company. It is important that the team truly understands and is passionate about the brand so the company can successfully expand in the right direction. People are key in our industry as every guest interaction is vital.

Image caption: The site at Legian Sire, Lombok

HK: How did the management team come together?
HJM: Our first property, The Legian, Seminyak Bali has been owned by the Djohan’s family since the opening in 1996. Irma Djohan, The youngest daughter of Robby and Nanan Djohan, has a career in banking and at the same time was mentored by her father to eventually become a partner at LHM. Ralf Ohletz von Plattenberg was working for Adrain Zecha at Aman and GHM for over 30 years and was part of the team who setup The Legian. As for myself, I was working with GHM, who managed The Legian, for 15 years. Therefore, Irma, Ralf and myself knew each other. When the late Robby Djohan decided to start his own management company, he brought the 3 of us together help him form LHM, based on our diversified backgrounds.

Image credit: Legian Sire, Lombok

HK: The team clearly has a lot of experience in luxury. What key elements have you taken from Como, Peninsula and Aman to make LHM truly luxurious?
HJM: The LHM team have utilised their experience to create LHM’s own bespoke luxury key elements. LHM balances authentic unsurpassed service within captivating environments of exquisite craftsmanship reflecting the sophisticated lifestyle and intellectual curiosity of our guests. Every LHM property reflects its location, culture and people and does not wish to be a ‘cookie cutter’ brand. The one main key element I have taken from all my experience is that the people are key to creating a truly memorable and luxurious experience.

HK: How important is location when expanding a luxury hotel portfolio?
HJM: Location is important not just for each individual property but expansion should be based on a strategic plan. Some destinations may complement each other which can be of great advantage to boost occupancy. LHM’s 5 year business plan focussed on Indonesia and South East Asia which allows us to streamline efforts and keep operations efficient.

Designing Instagrammable: Guest-driven brand stories and how to better understand the mindset of niche guests?

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In the second instalment of Designing Instagrammable, Valé Architects explores the routes as to why design has to evolve to cater to the modern traveller and how to understand the mindset of niche guests…

Design – and hotel design specifically – is centred around the end user. Therefore, as designers, we should be looking for avenues to better understand the people we are designing for.

Before Instagrammable

One interior design firm which understands the concept of designing for niche guests is HBA London. “Designing for Instagram moments is nothing new,” explains Constantina Tsoutsikou, Creative Director, HBA London. “As hospitality designers, we have always sought to create moments that make memories, that move guests’ emotions and engage them. It’s just that we used to call them something else. These moments can inspire awe – a soaring atrium or a beautifully crafted staircase for example, or they can be much quieter – a carefully framed view or a tiny detail in an artwork that paints a thousand words. The difference now is that with Instagram guests can share this memory with all their followers, essentially endorsing the experience. In effect, Instagram moments enable guests to become ambassadors of the hotel.”

The benefit of using Instagram as a design tool is we can generate guest driven brand stories

In today’s world of the instant post and share, there’s three main differences that have existed for the first time in our history.  This is the vast volume of photos being taken and shared, secondly the influential sway that many of these photos can have on the success of a hotel and thirdly detailed look into the mindset of a hotel’s guest.  “A what?! What do you mean a look at guest mindset?” At Valé we use instagram photos as a design tool to measure user mindsets and influence the directions of a design.

Using Instagram as a design tool

The benefit of using Instagram as a design tool is we can generate guest driven brand stories. We touched on this in the Niche Hotel Design Guide, but we believe it needs to be explained in detail to be fully appreciated how valuable this could be for a hotel business.

Our goal is to see brands through the eyes of the end user, which in the case of a hotel is the guest. The better we understand the hotel brands guests like, the existing relationships they have with those brands and what they like about them, the more defined our design briefs can be to reach that niche guest.

The process involves researching the hashtags and locations tags of brand you want to be like (a muse brand), and categorising the photos users are taking of the property. Sorting into design elements, moments that show people or other common themes you see in a photostream on Instagram.  The remarkability chart below we’ve compared two hotels who we believe would attract similar niche guests, but in very different locations.

What this does is help build a design story of that muse brand, a story about what their guests finding so remarkable they have to share it with the world. Over a sizable data set of photos, we can start to build brand stories driven by how the guests experience at the property. It can help indicate to the design team things that are important to guests.

Measuring mindset affects your profits

Understanding your guests mindset in-depth could give hotel owners greater clarity on where to invest time and money in their hotel, if it’s important to the guests you probably want to consider it in your hotel brief. Understanding the social status associated with your public areas (restaurants, bars) play a significant role in a brand identity and awareness. Further detailed analysis over a much larger data set may reveal that a room design only needs to be “good enough” where as your public areas MUST shine, must be remarkable. This again focuses budget where it will have the most effect on your business.

How to measure mindset  

We studied a six hotels using social media, review sites and our own observations and broke them into niche guest types, commonly known as archetypes in marketing. Our findings from the social status study is that the guest profiles of what we called Thrifty Destination Junkies & Reality Escapees were more likely to show off they are at a certain hotel. While the Luxury Aesthetic Chaser finds greater delight in sharing the remarkably design buildings, interiors and food with their followers.

Those without their finger on the pulse are frankly risking it all.

We measured from similar size data sets (in this scenario 50 photos for each hotel) to try understand the importance of being photographed at the hotel vs photos of the hotel. We would link such a study to the social status a guests received from being seen at the hotel and their mindset on the importance of being seen at the coolest places in town.

Note we found that when the location was tagged there were greater volumes of images that had account holders in them, rather than images of objects, interior design or architecture. This indicates to us there is a social importance to be recognised to be aligned with a brand.

Conclusion

As competition grows and the desire for personalised experiences becomes increasingly popular, designing for niche guests is a hotel’s ticket building a brand long-term brand loyalty. As our online footprint increases, technology and data collection improves we’re going to be able to build ever greater experiences for niche guests. Those without their finger on the pulse are frankly risking it all.

Learn more about designing for niche guests in the Niche Hotel Design Guide by Valé.

9 eye-catching hotel concepts from around the world

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As Hotel Designs begins to shine the spotlight on ‘hotel concepts’ this month, the editorial team have pulled together a handful of the most striking hotels from around the world…

The hotel design industry is overflowing with innovative drawings and exceptional design concepts that year after year complete to unveil buildings that further challenge conventional overnight accommodation. Whether it be in the lobby, the guestroom, the F&B areas or whole exterior shell of the property, leading designers get a thrill out of unveiling something that no guest – or architect – has ever seen, nor experienced, before. To kick-start this month’s Spotlight On feature on ‘hotel concepts’, Hotel Designs has scoured the globe to find the most eye-catching hotel designs.

1) IceHotel, Sweden

Every year, when Sweden’s Torne River turns to ice, a new ICEHOTEL is created in the small village of Jukkasjärvi. The ice of the river transforms to design and sculpt the ICEHOTEL, an art project and the world’s first, and largest hotel built of snow and ice.

ICEHOTEL 365 is the latest concept to evolve. It’s a specially designed 2,100 square-metre ice art hall that is open 365 days of the year and run on solar power from the midnight sun. Working with Swedish architect and sustainability designer Hans Eek, ICEHOTEL 365 combines state-of-the-art architecture and sustainable energy with the ice art that draws winter visitors from more than 80 countries every year. This part of the hotel is a permanent construction and accommodates nice Deluxe Suites with private sauna (yes, a sauna in an ice hut), bathroom and relax, 11 Art Suites, an ice gallery and ICEBAR Jukkasjärvi; all hand carved by select artists from around the globe.

2) Keemala, Phuket

Image credit: Keemala, Phuket

Taking an eco-friendly approach to design, Pisud Design Company utilised the natural surroundings when creating Keemala, Phuket. The result is a totally different hotel accommodation type for Phuket, Thailand and in fact the world. “The project has been designed to keep the original contour of the land as much as possible,” said designer Pisit Aongskultong, Design Director at Pisud Design Company. “We took inspiration from rocks, straw, clay and wood and didn’t feel it would be appropriate to build large buildings.”

3) Matetsi Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Image credit: Matetsi Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls is known in local Zimbabwean Tonga as “The Smoke that Thunders”. It is a magnificent UNESCO world heritage site that is classified as the largest waterfall in the world.

44 km east, set on the banks of the mighty Zambezi river, is Matetsi Victoria Falls – a new luxury retreat that bravely pushes design boundaries in all aspects of its creation. At the heart of the property, the hotel’s villa and suites are canopied in the shade of large riverside trees. Matetsi River Lodge and Matetsi River House together aim to redefine luxury accommodation. Here, raw textures marry to chic interior design. Throughout the property, the theme of bringing the outdoors inside is a constant reference to the uniquely beautiful landscape that surrounds.

Image credit: Le Pavillon des Lettres

Designed with bookworms in mind, this hotel has a room (and writer) for every letter of the alphabet. Located in Paris’s chic 8th arrondissement, just a short walk from the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and the River Seine, the  four-star luxury boutique hotel’s room reflect the personalities of famous writers. Le Pavillon des Lettres is privately owned and operated by the Chevalier family, who own two other Parisian hotels: Le Pavillon de la Reine in the Place des Vosges, and Hôtel du Petit Moulin on the Rue du Poitou.

Image credit: Natural Selection

Crafted around the enigmatic shipwrecks that line Namibia’s Skeleton Coast, there’s nowhere on the continent – or the world – quite like Shipwreck Lodge. The raw and rugged shells of each shack is matched in the interiors with shabby blinds and rough wooden walls. Adding comfort, the soft furnishings and fur throws make the inside feel cosy – almost a home-from-home. The impossibly remote slice of African wilderness, where towering dunes and wind-swept plains roll as far as the eye can see, is buffeted by the icy Atlantic seas.

Image credit: Conrad Maldives

THE MURAKA is the first of its kind. More than just a luxury retreat with stunning rooms, it features the only hotel guestroom where guests can look out through a single window into an unobstructed, 180-degree panoramic view of coral and marine life, in natural surroundings. Mike Murphy was the engineer behind the largely ambitious project of creating the ultra-luxurious two-level residence that comprises of an above-sea residence and an undersea level, which is completely immersed in the ocean.

7) Four Seasons Bora Bora

image credit: Four Seasons Bora Bora

Overwater bungalows and underwater adventures welcome guests at the sand-fringed idyll in the shadow of Bora Bora’s Mount Otemanu. Guests can toast sunsets from their private plunge pool, marvel at the Tahitian night sky, or simply lose themselves in the resort’s lagoon, where the waters teem with exotic reef fish and colourful corals.

8) Hotel Costa Verde, Costa Rica

Image credit: Hotel Costa Verde

The 727 Fuselage Home is said to be the most exclusive hotel suite in Costa Rica. Hotel Costa Verde has refurbished a vintage 1965 Boeing 727 airframe, which, in its prior life, shuttled globetrotters on South Africa Air and Avianca Airlines (Colombia). This fully outfitted, meticulously detailed, two bedroom, Boeing 727 fuselage suite jets out from the jungle canopy, taking suite life to new heights. Why not?

9)  Hotel Seven, Paris

Image credit: Hotel Seven, Paris

Inspired by everyone’s favoutite British secret agent with a licence to kill, the James Bond Suite in Hotel Seven Paris in France offers all the class of 007, complete with a dome-like seating area lit with dramatic spotlights and wallpaper that reflects the iconic silhouette seen in each of the film’s opening sequence.

Main image credit: Natural Selection 

 

Marriott set to debut dozens of luxury hotels in 2018

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Marriott International has announced the company is set to open nearly 40 luxury hotels in 2018 as the company continues to cater to a new affluent traveler, offering an unmatched variety of transformative travel experiences.

Providing globetrotters with a truly global perspective and an unparalleled portfolio of eight distinct luxury brands, Marriott International Luxury Brands include world-renowned hospitality hallmarks The Ritz-Carlton, Ritz-Carlton Reserve, St. Regis, W Hotels, The Luxury Collection, EDITION and JW Marriott. With an unrivaled network of landmark hotels and resorts in 60 countries today, Marriott International is set to expand its luxury footprint yet further with 200 hotels in the development pipeline, representing 25 new countries, from Iceland and Nepal to Cuba and the Philippines.

“From former palaces in Venice and Vienna, to skyscrapers in Hong Kong and Dubai, to intimate, remote escapes in the Maldives and Mexico, the breadth of our portfolio is incomparable and allows us to surpass the expectations of our guests around the globe,” said Tina Edmundson, Global Brand Officer, Marriott International. “We see luxury as a launch pad for self-actualization, with bucket lists evolving from where you want to go to who you can be. With data showing a global shift in perception around luxury, we are uniquely positioned to provide personalized and truly differentiated experiences that resonate with this next-generation jetsetter.”

Personalised Fulfillment is the Future of LuxuryA global luxury study conducted in partnership with Skift, the largest travel industry intelligence platform, revealed that the number one priority for luxury travelers is centered around transformative travel and authentic experiences that provide a new perspective on the world. Edmundson continued: “Today’s global luxurian defies traditional stereotypes, moving far beyond the antiquated notion of ‘time’ being the ultimate luxury. Our guests are on a journey towards personal fulfillment, seeking meaningful and purposeful travel experiences that speak to their inner, idealized selves. Whether that be creating a signature dish at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman’s Culinary Studio, prioritizing wellness by tapping into on-demand fitness with JW Marriott’s Behind the Barre program, recharging in an over-water villa at The St. Regis Maldives or exploring one of the world’s most energetic cities through a W Insider.” With a new lens on luxury and focus on the fast-evolving expectations and aspirations of the global traveler, Marriott International elevates travel with highly contextualized, nuanced brand experiences that signal the future of luxury. “Access is the new authentic, and our brands are portals to diverse cultures and one-off travel moments,” said Edmundson.

The Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis Hotels & Resorts Further Define the Luxury Landscape in 2018
The Ritz-Carlton, the legendary hospitality brand with 94 hotels in 31 countries, will continue to set the standard in luxury in 2018. Known for creating exceptional experiences, the brand recently celebrated the opening of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel de La Paix, Geneva and in 2018 is slated to debut six exciting locations, including China’s scenic Jiuzhaigou Valley. 2018 will also see renovations of key properties including The Ritz-Carlton, Berlin and The Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul. With three Ritz-Carlton Reserve properties open, the debut of Zadún, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Los Cabos, will further define the brand’s ability to create an intimate, culturally immersive experience that is set apart by heartfelt care and human connection.

St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, with 42 hotels in 21 countries today, is scheduled to celebrate the renovation of The St. Regis Rome in 2018, as well as openings in destinations such as Cairo and Amman. This follows recent debuts, including The St. Regis Shanghai Jingan and The St. Regis Astana.

Luxury Rebel W Hotels Spins Explosive Global Footprint
Scheduled to reach 75 hotels by 2020, W Hotels skillfully balances the power of a global brand with the relevance and personality of a local insider. In 2017, the iconic lifestyle brand electrified the skyline with the premiere of W Shanghai – The Bund, and debuted the next generation of boundary-pushing design in the United States with W Bellevue. Defined by visionary design, edgy fashion and buzzing music programming, W Hotels sits alongside luxury, not confined by it. 2018 will be a year of unprecedented growth for the brand with 8 hotels set to open, ranging from Tel Aviv and Dubai to Brisbane and Panama City.

EDITION Set to Reach 20 Properties by 2020
With seven new properties scheduled to launch across three continents, and many more in the pipeline, 2018 will mark a pivotal moment for EDITION. Created through a ground-breaking partnership between boutique hotel creator and innovator Ian Schrager and Marriott International, the EDITION brand is slated to grow exponentially from a collection of four to eleven properties by the end of 2018. Its timeless design, uncompromising quality, true originality and impeccable modern service, further defines the boutique hotel category. Following The Sanya EDITION’s launch in December 2016, EDITION’s Asian presence is scheduled to expand with two additional properties launching in Shanghai and Bangkok in 2018. In addition, the brand’s second and third European hotels are set for launch in Bodrum and Barcelona. EDITION will launch its first outpost in the Middle East in Abu Dhabi, whilst EDITION’s plans to increase its US presence with two properties located in New York’s Times Square and West Hollywood.

With a Growing Global Portfolio, The Luxury Collection Embodies Experiential Travel
A rapidly growing ensemble of 102 hotels in more than 30 countries around the world, The Luxury Collection takes guests on journeys to the world’s most inspiring places, enriching and transforming modern global travel with authentic and indigenous experiences. From epicurean delights in the heart of iconic wine regions to city landmarks in Paris and Milan to historic masterpieces such Cristallo, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa nestled in the Italian Dolomites, the brand continues to offer global explorers hotels that define the destination. The Luxury Collection is set to debut 10 properties next year in captivating locations that span the globe, including Los Cabos, Savannah, Vail and Okinawa.

JW Marriott Expands Global Footprint and Breathes New Life into Iconic Properties
Inspired by its legendary namesake, JW Marriott is a brand committed to cultivating enriching experiences for guests seeking approachable, modern luxury. With 79 hotels and resorts today in nearly 30 countries, including the recent openings of JW Marriott properties in Vancouver, Jaipur and Phu Quoc, an island oasis off the coast of Vietnam, the brand is looking forward to yet another milestone year with openings slated for 2018 in Nashville and the Maldives. JW Marriott will also continue to reinforce and revitalize its global portfolio with multi-million dollar renovations in more than half of its properties, including JW Marriott Bangkok and Grosvenor House, a JW Marriott Hotel.

Whitepaper: Sustainability enhancing 'competitive positioning'

Marriott unveils global sustainability, social impact plan

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From human rights protections to sustainable hotel development, Marriott International has now launched a new sustainability and social impact initiative designed to foster business growth while balancing the needs of associates, customers, owners, the environment and communities.

Under Serve 360: Doing Good in Every Direction, Marriott’s new Sustainability and Social Impact Platform seeks to continue the company’s 90-year commitment to the communities it serves, the planet and people worldwide.[CRF_Form id=’1′]

“As the global hospitality leader with properties and associates across 125 countries and territories, Marriott International has a global responsibility and unique opportunity to be a force for good in all aspects of our business – from helping to reduce carbon and water use to providing our associates with human trafficking awareness training,” said Ray Bennett, Chief Global Officer, Global Operations at Marriott International and Serve 360 Executive Leadership Council Co-Chair. “We recognize that how we do business is as important as the business that we do. Incorporating environmental and social initiatives, including human rights awareness training, into our business is not only the right thing to do, it has a direct impact on our profits and beyond.”

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READ MORE SUSTAINABILITY STORIES
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Guided by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, Marriott created Serve 360 to guide the company’s commitment and deliver positive results through four priority areas or “coordinates”:

– Nurture Our World – Advancing the resiliency and development of our communities.
– Sustain Responsible Operations – Reducing the company’s environmental impacts, sourcing responsibly and building and operating sustainable hotels.
– Empower Through Opportunity – Helping people prepare for jobs in the hospitality industry.
– Welcome All & Advance Human Rights – Creating a safe and welcoming world for associates and travelers alike.

Marriott’s new goals are being woven into the company across continents, from its global development organizations to its global supply chain networks. Some of the company’s commitments by 2025 include:

– Reduce water by 15%, carbon by 30%, waste by 45% and food waste by 50%
– Contribute 15 million associate volunteer hours, 25% of which will be skills-based, to capitalize on personal talents and core business skills
– Train 100% of associates to know the signs of human trafficking
– Embed human rights criteria in recruitment and sourcing policies

“Building off our 2007 Sustainability goals, Marriott is proud to issue our next generation of goals, inclusive of social and human rights targets to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges,” said Tricia Primrose, Global Chief Communications Officer at Marriott International and Serve 360 Executive Leadership Council Co-Chair. “Associates and customers want to work for and do business with a company that aligns with their values and drives positive community impact. We are proud to be part of the solution,” she added.

More details about Serve 360 can be found at marriott.com/serve360