Luxury Hotels


Nick Perry, Chairman UltraTravel, magnificently summed up the atmosphere created by CEOs of 40 top global hotel brands talking, networking and sharing. There was no rivalry, it was working as a team, he said at the close of the Global Hotel Alliance – GHA – gathering in Madrid 9-12 June (team work is really well understood by the CEO of one of the earliest GHA members, Kempinski – its boss Bernold Schroeder lives and breathes the business of sport). See Schroeder above, with Amruda Nair, founding boss of GHA’s most intimate brand, Araiya.

There was continual reference to staffing challenges, even in UAE. Minor International is, in partnership with Les Roches, establishing its own hospitality school and everyone wants to explore how GHA can spearhead B2P, Business To People. Pan Pacific mentioned that some are more natural hospitality givers than others; Lungarno Collection has to close some restaurants which have plenty of would-be diners but no ready-and-waiting servers. Nikki Beach has already diverted from occupancy obsession and is happy with higher rates (but supply chain challenges make it difficult to move Moët to Montenegro). Expansion plans were shared – Shaza’s doing two family-friendly hotels next to Walt Disney World in Orlando. Outrigger has bought in Maldives and is eyeing Miami and Los Cabos, and so on.

Included in the business agenda, too, were presentations by two GHA shareholders. Oracle shared details of Opera Cloud. ASmallWorld gives complimentary social network membership to elite Discovery members.

Somehow GHA CEO Chris Hartley, helped by a most professional – and universally charming – cast kept to timing, with a passing word to keep one of the weeks before Easter 2023 free. The next GHA CEOs team-gathering is tentatively scheduled to be in Cape Town, hosted by Sun International.

And at that the assembled group, who had already had tremendously thoughtful and generous tastes and libations hosted by NH Collection over the preceding two days, took off for the final Madrid Experience.

For the record, tuk-tuks took the eager crowd to Centro De Experiencias Del Vino for an hour-long winetasting – and no, red+white does not make rosé, it stays red. A flamenco family persevered in 40-plus degrees at La Quimera Plaza Mayor. There was a group photo, complete with castanets and Spanish flags, on the steps next to Las Cuevas de Luis Candelas, a tavern in a series of above-ground caves that presented plates of tapas, giant portions of duck and giant volumes of a roving band.

The scheduled finale, atop Pestana CR7, was supposed to end at midnight but who cared? Having talked so much GHA DISCOVERY experiences over the space of 48 hours showed, finally, that those leading this 21-million loyalty programme practise what they preach. Memorable experiences are an essential part of the overall GHA business plan.

Let us finish with a short clip of the La Quimera Plaza Mayor flamenco: