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By Neharika Padala | December 3 2014
By extension “Golden Age” denotes a period of primordial peace, harmony, stability and prosperity. During this age peace and harmony prevailed, humans did not have to work to feed themselves, for the earth provided food in abundance. They lived to a very old age with a youthful appearance, eventually dying peacefully, with spirits living on as “guardians”
We are witnessing a “Golden Age of Luxury” according to Paul James, who leads Starwood Hotels & Resorts’ three luxury brands: The Luxury Collection, St. Regis and W. Perhaps the future editors of the ubiquitous online encyclopedia will agree as they look back to today.
James notes an interesting turn of the tables. Going back a couple decades, four star hotels generally were cheap and full, running higher occupancies than their luxury cousins that were “expensive and empty.” Citing Smith Travel Research, James says “luxury hotels today are running higher occupancy rates than upscale hotels”–with higher price tags, of course.
Without argument, of the global groups, Starwood has been the leader in dissecting the luxury market with a multi-brand lifestyle approach. James showed an interesting chart to a gathering of press during the International Luxury Travel Mart (ILTM) in Cannes. In 2000 the operator had 7 St. Regis’s, 39 Luxury Collection properties, and 13 W’s. At the turn of the century, one could even argue, W wasn’t positioned as a luxury brand, but taking the three flags together, Starwood had 59 “luxury hotels.” By the end of next year (2015) that number will reach to 190 locations, with 40 St. Regis’s, 99 Luxury Collection’s, and 51 W’s in 42 countries.
With 18 openings planned for 2015, James was asked if things were slowing down. After answering that luxury hotel development might be “on the top end of a sharp curve,” he paused a couple of seconds and added, “however, I said that last year.”
Driving the demand, James says, is a two-fold phenomena: the growth of the global Ultra High Net Worth traveler and the growth of affluent populations in places like India, China and Brazil that travel at slightly different periods of the year than traditional affluent Americans and Europeans. The result is that luxury hotels today operate “more efficiently” with “better staffing,” as opposed to the days of distinct high and low seasons when luxury hotel staff resembled migrant workers moving from one place to another to serve champagne and change the bed linens of the haves.
At the top end, James noted, the market is “truly global” with countries like Angola and Nepal now producing luxury customers at the top level. He noted that Starwood’s luxury expansion has also helped its brands gain market share. As an example, following the openings of St. Regis Punta Mita and Mexico City, which have a significant domestic base, business to sister hotels in Aspen and Deer Valley skyrocketed.
In what he referred to as “the death of demographics,” he said it is no longer enough to talk about Boomers and Millennials. “It matters how much money you have, and how do you want to spend it,” he told the audience. As an example, at St. Regis Sanya, a group of six people booked the Presidential Suite at $30,000 per night for three nights. They arrived on a super yacht, and the General Manager expected an older male business titan. Instead, the group was “six girls having an 18th birthday party.” In another case, a $20,000 per night suite was booked on the day of arrival from a mobile device. James said these examples illustrate the diversity of the Super Rich and how they move around the world and transact luxury purchases.
Below is an overview of just opened, future openings and renovations for Starwood’s luxury brands provided by the company:
St. Regis Hotels & Resorts has more than doubled its global footprint in the last five years to 34 hotels, solidifying its position as a leader in luxury hospitality – with another 12 hotels in the pipeline. St. Regis will continue its dynamic global growth with highly anticipated openings in Macau, Lijiang, Changsha, Zhuhai, Haikou and Sanya in China, as well as debut in Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Dubai and Amman. Spring 2015 will mark the opening of The St. Regis Istanbul.
The St. Regis Chengdu – Opened | September 2014 – Centrally positioned in Chengdu’s business district in one of the fastest growing metropolitan cities in the world, The St. Regis Chengdu has introduced a new level of luxury to the bustling capital of China’s Sichuan province. Opening exactly 110 years after the first St. Regis opened its doors in New York, the hotel features 279 superb guest rooms and suites, six distinct restaurants and lounges, a state-of-the-art health club and a magnificently- appointed Iridium Spa®, featuring nine treatment rooms.
The St. Regis Istanbul – Opening | Spring 2015 – Nestled in the heart of Nisantasi among fashion houses like Chanel, Tom Ford and Alexander McQueen, The St. Regis Istanbul will sit on the European side of the city with 118 luxuriously appointed hotel rooms, including an exceptional Presidential Suite. The hotel will introduce an eclectic French brasserie on its terrace, a rooftop restaurant overlooking the Bosporus and the most indulgent Remedé Spa spanning more than 2,000 square feet.
The St. Regis Dubai – Opening | Fall 2015 – The hotel is part of the ambitious Al Habtoor City development on Sheikh Zayed Road – which includes a flagship W Hotel and a new Westin
property, and will mark the entry of the St. Regis brand intoDubai. Offering a new standard of luxury in the Emirate alongside spectacular city views, The St. Regis Dubai will feature 235 luxuriously-appointed guest rooms, including 49 elegant suites. The hotel will have extensive state-of-the-art meeting and event space as well as a wide range of luxury experiences with eight distinctive culinary, lounge and bar venues, a signature spa, swimming pool, a state-of-the-art fitness centre and an elegant ballroom. The St. Regis Dubai will also feature multiple gardens including a Musical Garden with mosaic musical notes leading to the centerpiece: a musical fountain.
The St. Regis Macao, Cotai Central – Opening | Fall 2015 The hotel will be the seventh St. Regis hotel in Greater China, debuting hot on the heels of recent landmark openings in Chengdu, Tianjin, Sanya, Lhasa, and Shenzhen. The St. Regis Macao is conveniently located in Sands Cotai Central, which offers access to 600 luxury retail outlets, 100 dining options, and world-class entertainment. The hotel will offer 400 lavishly appointed guestrooms and suites ranging from 52sqm to 312sqm. In line with Macau’s reputation as a world-class culinary destination, the hotel will feature several exclusive dining experiences including a signature Asian restaurant and the renowned St. Regis Bar which will offer a local twist on the legendary Bloody Mary first created at the brand’s flagship hotel in New York City. There will be an Iridium Spa on the 38th floor, offering panoramic views of the Cotai Strip. An outdoor pool with 2457sqm of deck space will feature luxurious private cabanas. Elegant meeting space includes a ballroom seating 330 guests for dinner, as well as several smaller meeting rooms ideal for social gatherings.
The St. Regis New York – Renovation | November 2013 – The St. Regis New York continues its extensive renovation this year with plans to reintroduce the gym on the hotel’s 19th floor, renovate the storied rooftop ballroom and redesign the hotel’s spa, which will debut in early 2015. With renovated and redesigned guestrooms, suites and public spaces and the debut of the new King Cole Bar & Salon under renowned New York chef and restaurateur, John DeLucie, The St. Regis New York is unveiling a bold new era of glamour at Manhattan’s best address.
The Luxury Collection is set to surpass 100 hotels by 2016, following recent debuts in Dalian and Hangzhou in China and Santa Fe in the US, as well as with upcoming openings next year including Grand Hills resort in Broumana, Lebanon and The St. Anthony in San Antonio, US. To date, more than 450 million Euros (US$600 million) has been invested to reimagine historic and iconic Luxury Collection hotels in Europe for a new generation of global explorers. These include The Gritti Palace in Venice, Prince de Galles in Paris, Hotel Imperial in Vienna and Excelsior Hotel Gallia in Milan.
OPENINGS AND CONVERSIONS
Ajman Saray, A Luxury Collection Resort, Ajman – Opened |January 2014 – Ideally situated along a natural stretch of pristine beach, a short distance from Dubai and Sharjah international airports in the United Arab Emirates, Ajman Saray resort offers travelers and locals a relaxing beachside experience. The resort stands near turquoise waters and ivory sands with 205 luxuriously-appointed rooms and suites – all with private balconies overlooking the Arabian Gulf – as well as five restaurants and bars, each providing a distinct epicurean experience. An ideal destination for business travelers and families alike, Ajman Saray also offers a range of leisure and meeting facilities including an expansive spa.
La Posada de Santa Fe, A Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Santa Fe – Conversion | May 2014 – A historic downtown resort in the city’s vibrant art district, La Posada de Santa Fe opened as a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa in May 2014. Following which, the hotel underwent a multi-million dollar renovation during the summer months. Spanning more than five acres, the resort offers 157 guest rooms, a luxurious spa and salon, rooftop terrace, expansive outdoor pool and immersive art gallery.
Hotel Bristol, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Odessa – Conversion and Restoration | Summer 2014 – The restoration of the celebrated Hotel Bristol re-energizes the majestic 113-room hotel, bringing its baroque architectural style to life with the redesign of its restaurant and lounge. The hotel, which has served as the local haunt for generations of writers, musicians and artists, is ideally situated in Odessa’s historic city centre across from the Philharmonic Hall. The hotel is also the accommodation of choice for global explorers visiting the city by the Black Sea.
The Azure Qiantang, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Hangzhou – Opened | September 2014 – The hotel, designed by world-renowned architect Pierre-Yves Rochon, is set in a sophisticated tower on the banks of Hangzhou’s Qiantang River. The blue glass structure is designed to reflect the river’s surging waves and is a stunning addition to the city skyline. A perfect blend between Hangzhou’s traditional foundation of simplicity and elegance combined with contemporary design elements, the 205 guest rooms and suites feature spectacular views over the Qiantang River through floor-to-ceiling windows. Dining options include The Lan Ting Chinese Restaurant and Panorama Restaurant & Bar. Guests can also unwind in the spa which offers signature treatments designed around the surrounding water elements.
The Castle, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Dalian – Opened | September 2014 – The first Luxury Collection hotel to open in Liaoning, China, The Castle is set in a striking castle design overlooking Xinghai Bay, Northern China’s financial and tourism capital. Dalian is one of China’s major trading ports and is quickly becoming one of the country’s most popular destinations, thanks to its scenic shoreline, sprawling parks and squares, inspiring museums, historic sights, and iconic architecture. The hotel features palatial, Bavarian styling and offers 292 luxurious guestrooms and suites, as well as 67 residences with stunning ocean views. An icon in the city’s skyline, The Castle boasts three restaurants, outstanding event space, state-of-the-art fitness centre and luxurious Kaiser Spa.
Excelsior Hotel Gallia, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Milan – Conversion and Restoration | December 2014 – Located in Piazza Duca d’Aosta, in the heart of the city’s fast-emerging Porta Nuova district, Excelsior Hotel Gallia will be a glittering reflection of Milan’s rich culture, sophisticated style and vibrant culinary scene. The historic hotel first opened in 1932 as one of the city’s most prestigious hotels and will soon be unveiled following a meticulous renovation and strategic expansion. The new architecture and design concept led by Studio Marco Piva blends contemporary design with the hotel’s original Belle Époque architectural style. The hotel will offer 235 guest rooms and suites, a signature restaurant and a roof-top bar with panoramic views of the city, an elegant lounge bar and cigar room, plus 1,000 square metres of wellness facilities including a spa, indoor swimming pool and fitness centre. The hotel will also offer extensive event and meeting spaces.
The St. Anthony, A Luxury Collection Hotel, San Antonio – Conversion and Restoration | March 2015 – Nestled in the heart of historic downtown San Antonio and within walking distance of the legendary Riverwalk, The St. Anthony will join The Luxury Collection portfolio in 2015 when renovations are completed. A National Historic Landmark, the storied hotel has been welcoming guests since 1909. With 12-foot ceilings, gold leaf topped columns and discreet French décor, The St. Anthony will offer a unique blend of Edwardian-era charm, contemporary amenities and gracious service, making this hotel a premier choice for business and leisure travellers alike.
Grand Hills, a Luxury Collection Hotel & Spa, Broumana – Conversion and Restoration | Spring 2015 – Grand Hills will mark the brand’s debut in Lebanon, nestled high up at the gateway of the idyllic mountain village, Broumana – a lush, charming and tranquil pedestrian village to the east of Beirut. Centrally located between the sea, mountains and Beirut’s downtown, the resort will feature typical Lebanese mountain resort style. Grand Hills will offer 115 rooms and 53 suites, three restaurants and two bars, three pools, a spa, a fitness centre as well as extensive meeting and conference facilities. The resort will offer mesmerising views of the Zaarour Mountains and Mediterranean Sea set against the picturesque pinewood village.
Hotel Bristol, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Vienna –
Renovation | December 2013 – Hotel Bristol is right next door to the Vienna State Opera and has been an inspiring meeting point for Vienna’s cultural and business life for over a century. Led by internationally acclaimed interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon, the restoration includes a
complete redesign of the lobby, refresh of the intimate and iconic Bristol Bar, and introduction of Bristol Lounge, an all-day dining restaurant and bar. The hotel’s 150 refined rooms and suites include the recently designed Bristol Suites and the Grand Deluxe Rooms, adding to the unique charm of this hotel with panoramic windows with a breath-taking view of the city.
Santa Marina, A Luxury Collection Resort, Mykonos – Renovation | May 2014 – Santa Marina Resort & Villas recently completed a meticulous three-year multi-million dollar restoration. The resort’s restored design complements its majestic views over the Mediterranean Sea, with a complete redesign of its public spaces to reflect chic natural décor inspired by the coastal environment. Five minutes from Mykonos town, Santa Marina sits on a private and revitalised beach, offering captivating panoramic views of the Aegean Sea, Ornos Bay and nearby islands. The resort has 100 guest rooms and suites, all with private balconies and picturesque sea views. Discerning travelers can also stay in exclusive hillside villas, available with butler service. The newly redesigned Bayview Beach Restaurant & Bar serves a selection of Mediterranean fusion cuisine and seafood within its contemporary, honeyed wood interiors. A children’s club, three swimming pools, sporting facilities and a Lotus Spa provides guests with complete relaxation and reinvigoration.
Hotel Imperial, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Vienna –
Renovation | September 2014 – Marking the hotel’s 140th anniversary, Hotel Imperial in Vienna recently completed a one-year, 11 million Euro restoration, led by British designer
Alex Kravetz. The restoration reinforces the hotel’s palatial and imperial grandeur with new concepts for the hotel’s ground floor, including the lobby; the signature OPUS
Restaurant; 1873 – HalleNSalon lobby bar; the renowned Café Imperial Wien, the place to experience Viennese coffee house culture; enhanced event spaces. The original
Composers Entrance – connecting the hotel to the neighbouring Musikverein, home to the Vienna Philharmonic – has been re-modeled and enlarged to provide a stately arrival experience for maestros, musicians and guests. Built in 1863 as a private residence of Prince Philipp of Württemberg, the celebrated hotel is situated on the city’s Ring Boulevard and within a short walk from major attractions such as the Vienna State Opera, Kunsthistoriches Museum and Secession Building.
The fastest growing luxury brand in the history of lodging, W Hotels Worldwide has more than doubled its portfolio in the last five years, reaching 45 hotels worldwide. A global design powerhouse and industry innovator, W Hotels is on track to reach 60 hotels by 2017, including the opening of W Beijing – Chang’an and W Bogota this year. W redefines the contemporary luxury hotel experience with each new opening, offering cutting-edge design, Whatever/Whenever service, buzzing bars and restaurants, and insider access to what’s new and next for guests and locals alike.
W Verbier – Opened | December 2013 – Marking the brand’s entrance into Switzerland, W Verbier is the first ever alpine and ski retreat for W Hotels. Located at the foot of Verbier’s world-renowned ski slopes, the retreat offers immediate ski-in, ski-out access to the exciting alpine action. The retreat is designed by world-renowned Concrete Architectural Associates and is set in four wooden chalet-style buildings. W Verbier offers innovative Swiss cuisine led by two Michelin-starred chef, Sergi Arola, as well as a not-to-be-missed après-ski scene and complete relaxation at Away Spa. All 123 stylish guest rooms and suites feature a cozy fireplace and a balconly with spectacular panoramic alpine views.
W Beijing – Chang’an – Opened | November 2014 – Steps from the mystical Forbidden City,
vibrant Silk Market and famed Tiananmen Square, W Beijing – Chang’an is a new icon in
the bustling downtown’s exclusive Diplomatic District with its potent remix of high style,
exhilarating history and pulsating nightlife. With a sensory-rich contemporary style inspired by
Beijing’s storied traditions, the hotel brings the W brand’s distinct modern luxury with 24/7
energy and cutting edge design. The hotel features 349 spacious guestrooms and suites with state-of- the-art fittings and a selection of social space such as the Living Room, with its LED-lit catwalk and golden globe DJ booth hanging from the ceiling for W’s famous DJ events. An extensive spa experience, state of the art fitness centre and heated indoor pool are also for guests to relax and unwind.
W Bogota – Opening | 12 December 2014 – Slated to open in December 2014, W Bogota will debut as part of a mixed-use development in the heart of the fashionable Usaquen district in the northern part of the city, just steps away from the neighborhood’s trendy restaurants, cafes and shopping. Designed by New York-based Studio Gaia, the interiors were inspired by Colombia’s famous El Dorado legend. The hotel will have 168 stylish guest rooms, including 33 suites and an Extreme Wow Suite. Guests can detox and re-fuel at an Away Spa, recharge in SWEAT® state-of-the-art fitness or indoor pool, as well as mix and mingle in the W Living Room, Auroom destination bar or Market Kitchen restaurant.
W Amsterdam – Opening | Autumn 2015 – The first W Hotel to open in the Netherlands, W Amsterdam will be located on the prestigious Dam Square in the heart of the city, just steps
from the iconic canal district. The hotel will occupy a former Telephone Exchange building, a historic property constructed in the Amsterdam School style of architecture. The building
will be re-imagined by award-winning practices OFFICE WINHOV of Amsterdam and Tel Aviv-based BK Architecture, including full restoration of historical elements combined
with a new, contemporary design. Featuring W’s famous signature cutting-edge-design and styling, the new hotel will feature 169 stylish guestrooms, including 10 suites and one Extreme Wow Suite. Guests will be elevated directly to the rooftop on arrival for check-in and a cocktail in the W Living Room. A rooftop restaurant and destination bar will provide unrivalled views of Dam Square and the famous Amsterdam city lights.
W Tel Aviv – Jaffa – Opening | Winter 2015 – Set inside a historic 19th century heritage building in the revitalized ancient port neighborhood of Jaffa, this landmark W project will bring cutting-edge W lifestyle to Tel Aviv. The hotel is being designed by acclaimed British architect John Pawson along with Ramy Gill Architects and Urban Designers, who has also designed the new Jaffa port. W Tel Aviv – Jaffa will feature 125 stylish guest rooms and suites as well as panoramic views of the Mediterranean coast. Dining and leisure facilities include a signature
restaurant, a destination bar, W Living Room, an Away Spa, SWEAT® state-of-the-art fitness, and a glamorous outdoor WET pool deck. With more than 4,000 years of history, Jaffa is south of the main city centre of Tel Aviv and is undergoing a meticulous revitalization project, including multi-million dollar investments in infrastructure and an extended sea promenade.