Luxury Hotels

IFC – Quebec – Dubai

Girlahead feels that the entire state of the industry was summed up in a superb International Finance Corporation IFC presentation 24th February (it was specifically on Africa, and the Middle East, which was a reminder of the sensational greenhouse restaurant, above, at Franshhoek’s Babylonstoren farm-vineyard-resort, owned by that Napster-Tencent legend, Koos Bekker).  The IFC session, oh so professional, was introduced by Sérgio Pimenta, VP Middle East & Africa IFC, and moderated by BBC World’s Lerato Mbele. Participants were Mary-Jean Moyo, IFC Regional Industry Director for Manufacturing, Agribusiness & Services, Middle East & Africa; Mahmoud Abdellatif, Vice Chairman, Travco (owned by the Chiaty family, who recently sold on their Deutsche Hospitality); Philip Åkesson, CEO, Travelstart; Aboudi Asali, Senior VP, JLL Hotels & Hospitality Group, MENA; Olivier Baric, Africa Aviation Director, Egis; Wayne Godwin, Senior VP, JLL Hotels & Hospitality Group, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Olivier Granet, CEO, Kasada Capital Management.

**

So, what evolved? For the first time, travel has seen both source and destination markets affected, globally (it will never again be taken for granted). Opportunities, however, include a near-complete reset. The sector needs to work together more and be more proactive, to concentrate increasingly on technology, authenticity, sense of place and offering products that are healthy and fun, with an awareness of environment and communities. And there is even a chance for major cities, to switch from travel destination emphasis to become ideal working locations. For its part, IFC, the outgoing investment arm of the World Bank, will partner more on education and training, said the Bank’s senior private sector specialist markets and technology, Hannah Messerli.

**

Also yesterday, Girlahead was told that philanthropist-designer John Hardy, who is behind the Radical Innovation design award, is now partnering with Quebec’s Omega Park, a 2,200-acre wildlife facility in the Outaouais region. This already has a First Nations Trail showing history and culture of colonization as well as animals. Girlahead opens eyes and mind to how this can be radically innovated – over to you, John Hardy.

**

There is, actually, so much radical innovation going on in the entire world of luxury hospitality.  From his Dubai base, Jumeirah CEO José Silva shares unique and widely appreciated thoughts on making restaurants and bars work, for everyone, owners, designers, operators and customers. Hear it again, here:

Read more
Luxury Hotels

Shanghai – New York – Capri – Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection

Girlahead remembers so well her visit to Amanyangyun, outside Shanghai, and the opportunity to meet up with its visionary owner, Ma Dadong, seen above with a colleague, coincidentally another MA, as in Mary.  Aman’s chief corporate spokesman Anna Nash was, by the way, one of the top stars at yesterday’s leading industry event. See below.

**

There were precisely 100 invited-participants at the 23rd February 2021 VIRTUAL LEADERSHIP ROUND TABLE, organised and jointly overseen by Strategic Vision’s Peter Bates and Embark Beyond’s Jack Ezon (yes, two New York-based visionary leaders speaking to the world). Anna Nash said whereas a year ago there was detailed pandemic strategy this has been replaced by shooting from the hip, working to ‘less is more’ when it comes to pre-planning. There are, now, hopeful signs.  At Aman’s 33 properties, January 2021 saw much higher conversion than a year ago, and February 2021’s conversion was up 15% on 2020: interestingly, whereas previously personal reservations were heavy on Monday-Tuesday, now Sunday afternoon is high on making reservations.  Aman is finding current consumer planning from the USA is strong for Greece and Morocco.  As always, the roster of Bates-Ezon speakers was unbeatable, featuring such other industry greats as Auberge’s Caroline MacDonald, Marriott’s Rick Harvey Lam, Virtuoso’s Misty Belles and top travel advisors Sonia Davies, Scott Dunn, and Brooke Lavery, Local Foreigner. Girlahead rates the value of VIRTUAL LEADERSHIP ROUND TABLE sessions up there with those from The Economist (whose next session is collecting, and communicating, real data).

**

Two other sit-up-and-take-note announcements happened yesterday.  One was Oetker Collection’s understandably excited revelation that it will assume management of Albergo La Palma, Capri, when it re-opens April 2022 after a complete new look. It will then be down to 55 keys, with new pool, beach club, rooftop restaurant and bar and all food by one of Campania’s leading culinary celebrities, the two-star Michelin Gennaro Esposito. (Girlahead must applaud, by the way, the industry-leading method of announcing this additional member of Oetker’s Masterpiece hotel collection – CEO Timo Gruenert, in a monologue, starred in a brilliantly-professional 15-minute video showing the history of this class hotel and what is and will be part of its current metamorphosis.)

**

Yesterday, too, saw the announcement of the newly-promoted CEO of Marriott International, Tony Capuano, 55, and as well as obviously being supremely qualified, he looks like a nice guy, with a big and genuine smile.  Good luck Tony!  In your honour, here is a preview of the first Ritz-Carlton Yacht, launching this June:

Read more
Luxury Hotels

Bangkok – Hong Kong – Dubai

At Rosewood Bangkok, Girlahead found a make-your-own cocktail awaiting in Manor Suite 1812 – what a memorable touch to add to an overall picture of a striking building, by New York-based KPF, with, thoughtfully, a direct pedestrian walkway to Skytrain’s Ploenchit Station. Add to the memory superb service, led by GM Thomas Harlander, and such eatertainment thrills as taking a private elevator to the 30th floor Lennon’s Speakeasy, with Legay turntables and McIntosh C47 Audio Preamplifiers to turn your choice of over 6,000 vinyls.

**

Now back to alcohol. Another wow arrival currently awaits at Rosewood Hong Kong, which is offering what it calls the ultimate staycation experience. Head to the hotel’s K11 Musea for a Macallan Room whisky tasting after which, as though carrying the theme beyond usual boundaries, there is a whisky-pairing dinner at HENRY. Instead of Girlahead’s choice of, say, an Haut-Brion or Screaming Eagle red, in a Riedel glass of course, this dinner comes with a single malt to go with a steak tasting menu designed by chef Nathan Green: finish the evening in DarkSide lounge, to savour a Macallan’s cocktail.

**

Let us cross Victoria Harbour to Hong Kong Island’s Central area, to The Upper House, Swire’s avocado-hued luxury hotel that is cleverly making the most of having a sixth floor grassed terrace the size of two tennis courts.  This is, at least during this pandemic period, themed as an outdoor pop-up Maka Hiki Lounge, which is Polynesian for “new beginnings” (Maha Hiki is a Hong Kong brand owned by local Tiki bar conceptors Stéphane Levan and Max Traverse). Maha Hiki’s seven signature cocktails include Maka Hiki Punch (Plantation OFTD Overproof Rum, Rhum J.M Paille, Maraschino Liqueur, Orgeat Syrup, Homemade Falernum Liqueur, Grapefruit and Lemon Juice) and Bora Bora Spritzer (Tanqueray Ten Gin, Aperol, Cocchi Storico Vermouth and Taittinger Brut Champagne). Bar bites are inspired by islands worldwide, say Cuban Pulled Pork Sandwiches. On Thursdays, Maka Hiki adds cigar and rum tastings, and on weekends dogs are invited, no tastings offered.

**

There are nearly always tastings, especially of finest Lianozoff caviars, in Jetex’s private jet terminal at Dubai International Airport: arrive early, to sample a few eggs from an exquisite mother-of-pearl spoon, and possibly join other gourmets in buying a tin for the ongoing flight.  Make a note of the Lianozoff name, by the way. Brand owner Karim Moubarik understands real quality, as does another luxury-lover, Adel Mardini. Listen to him here, below:

Read more