Luxury Hotels


You never know who you will run into at a ‘good’ conference – unique characters of the calibre of Christoph Hoffmann, above, inventor and CEO of 25hours.  There are in total 2,400 delegates here in Berlin at the first umasked post-COVID International Hotel Investment Forum IHIF, and the mood, with one exception, is jubilant optimism. Men’s adopted gear is universal navy jackets, not-necessarily-matching tight trousers, and open-neck white shirts. Footwear is often plain white sneakers or tan leather, polished. Women range from austere trouser suits to brightly-coloured summer frocks.

People Planet Profit is this year’s theme, as organiser Questex’s bosses Paul Miller and Alexei Khajavi explained when they did a double-act opening the business proceedings. As always, the Potsdam Ballroom at main host hotel, INTERCONTINENTAL BERLIN, was packed out for that session, and, true to form, numbers dwindled during the day as delegates retreated to break-outs, or to business meetings. Also, in an IHIF first, a simultaneous but more informal conference, Alternative Spaces, was taking place across  the street, at PULLMAN SCHWEIZERHOF.

It was there, at the Pullman, that Salt Hotels’ CEO David Bowd gave one of the most relevant presentations of the entire event. Yes, this is an investment conference but bricks and mortar hotels are not viable unless there are people to make them work. Salt Hotels was opening a New Jersey hotel, how to staff it? Bowd called his friends to help and established a pop-up Salt School, from which he acquired a great team, from a late teenager through to a 62-year old retired flight attendant. Now, before each opening he heavily advertises a three-day Salt School. At the last one, 100 locals signed up, 50 showed up and he hired 48, for their attitude.

The other innovation that really struck Girlahead was by the CEO of The Embassies, Jan Garde, a Swiss German who has a background in advertizing, branding and marketing. This is a start-up converting existing big houses around the world into mini hotels for ageless matures.  What is interesting is that it is funded by Porsche. Cars not family.

Others will write about investment and the like. But it is  people and innovation that take this lifestyle forward. More to come, tomorrow. Meanwhile listen to Christoph Hoffmann, here: