December was a good old time for the Sybaritic Single – but between toasting at the Ritz Paris, detoxing at Hotel Amigo in Brussels immediately after, and then enjoying well-shaken Singapore Slings at Burj Al Arab in Dubai, he lost track. He definitely celebrated Christmas Day – there was a bill from the Emirates Palace to prove that – but he lost the rest of the month to a kaleidoscope of flying and luxury hotels.
Such overly hectic modus operandi is not something the Sybaritic Single genuinely enjoys. His own resolution for 2018 is to sharpen focus, get rid of clutter and work on better discipline.
This very much mirrors his advice to all hoteliers who wish to improve performance. In the era of mergers, acquisitions and thinner market segmentation, everyone seems to go after everything with their second, third and fourth brands. Or 28 brands, in case of Accor. Or 30 brands, in case of Marriott. Confused with ever-changing brand guidelines, hoteliers fail to fully understand the new brand identities. While guests, confused with choice (who can really tell the difference between Raffles and Sofitel Legend?), become less loyal.
Imagine Dorchester Collection launching some second brand. Or Four Seasons. Or The Peninsula. The importance of maintaining sharp focus is paramount in luxury – and today, it is more so than ever. Thankfully, Alain Ducasse promptly realised that manning a food truck is not his element. There must be a reason why Joël Robuchon never repeated his collaboration with Sushi Art, and why Fauchon closed its counters at Carrefour.
In 2018, luxury hotels must work towards protecting their integrity, polish what they do best, and ensure that their core expertise is never diluted. Flirting with millennials or trying to become trendier is a slippery path.
“Trendy is the last stage before tacky”, Karl Lagerfeld agrees.