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Michael Henssler, President China Kempinski

Michael HensslerPublisher for Elite Traveler Asia Tak Man recently sat down with Michael Henssler CEO Kempinski China to see why Europe’s oldest luxury hotel brand is so successful in China.

Elite Traveler: You’ve had some recent very exciting developments in China. Can you please tell us about this?

Michael Henssler: In terms of revenue we had a record year last year. This year we are tidying up our portfolio with a few hotel exits, going from good to great in terms of value for our guests. To give you an idea, only 2 out of our 18 hotels in China underperformed. Recently, we opened Shanghai.

In September this year, Yanqi Lake Kempinski Hotel  will open, which is the largest property in China, setting on 14-square-kilometre grounds in the heart of scenic Yanqi Lake in Beijing. We are on track with our strategy, and exceeding our financial goals. At this moment we have 18 properties opened and 7 in the pipeline. Our goal is to reach 30 in Asia, so therefore it is headed in the right direction.

ET: What do Private Jet Travelers expect with Kempinski properties?

MH: We find your readers want a tailor-made service and environment that suits their style. To them money is no object but time is. We have a very efficient and personal service attitude to all our guests. We empower every GM of each property and we entrust them to do the job that needs to be done for our guests without the beaurocracy of many other hotel chains.

For me luxury is always a choice and we do our best to give our guests choices which they want.

ET: Kempinski has a good footprint in China. What are the cultural differences that luxury Chinese guests may have?

MH: The acceptance is increasing because of the non-standardisation. We can see this greatly through guest feedback. For example, our Hainan property has already been used as a set of a movie, and we’ve have numerous TV channels coming to do programs. The architect was winai Suansalee, the designer of the Emirate Palace Abu Dahibi,  it is unique and you really feel like you are somewhere special when you enter a Kempinski property.

We don’t want to be a home away from home, because we believe if that is what you want, then why not stay home. Our properties are Special and about experiences. I just came back from Llahsa where we have a look at a  beautiful property for our portfolio, a bucket list destination without a doubt. I believe that luxury guests now demand experiences in locations that are unusual as well.

ET: As a Leader in Luxury, what luxury brands are you a fan of?

MH: I love watches, so for me, Patek Phillipe is my type of brand. Aston Martin has to be my favourite car.

ET: Thank you for taking the time to chat with us. We are looking forward to seeing your continued progress and success throughout China.