Your current portfolio in the U.K. and Ireland has been expanding. Tell us about the latest novelties.
In line with Hyatt’s ambitious growth strategy across Europe, we are expanding and diversifying our brand portfolio across the UK – nearly doubling our hotel footprint in the country. This will enable us to cater to an even wider variety of travellers, whatever their taste or budget. The UK remains a key driver of our growth in Europe.
Bringing together luxury and leisure, we recently announced our intention to open Park Hyatt London River Thames in the UK, which will be our seventh Hyatt-branded hotel in the Capital, and the first Park Hyatt in the UK. Park Hyatt London River Thames will be located within the highly anticipated Nine Elms development in Battersea, which offers the perfect backdrop for our luxury Park Hyatt brand, sitting right on the South Bank of the River Thames and close to the American Embassy. Expected to open in 2022, the hotel will join eight Hyatt hotels currently operating across the country.
In addition to this, we recently announced exciting news to develop a new Hyatt Regency in London, expected to open in 2024. Hyatt Regency London Olympia will mark the eighth Hyatt-branded property and the second Hyatt Regency hotel in London. It will become the fourth Hyatt Regency hotel in the United Kingdom, joining Hyatt Regency Birmingham, Hyatt Regency Manchester and Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill.
Outside of London we’ll also be welcoming our Hyatt Centric brand to Cambridge, marking the brand’s first entry into the UK another exciting milestone for our growth within the UK market.
To what extent are any of these properties luxury positioned? And what is your view on Hyatt to further expand with its luxury brands in the region you cover?
Our growth across Europe, and indeed the UK, is driven by a strong focus on bringing our exciting brands to iconic, sought-after destinations to cater to the needs of our guests. We are set to grow our footprint in the region by more than 30% over the next three years and plan to open more than 20 hotels and launch brands in some of the world’s most sought-after destinations, including Reykjavik, Prague, Lisbon, Helsinki and London. Luxury properties play an important role here, evidenced by our newly announced Park Hyatt London River Thames opening.
Each of the nine distinct brands across our portfolio caters to a variety of tastes and different travel needs, with the Park Hyatt brand providing worldly travellers understated luxury. Park Hyatt London River Thames will bring the very best of design, service at the highest standard as well as immersive and rare culinary experiences to the capital, unlocking unparalleled enrichment for guests within Nine Elms with its international focus – being located close to the new American Embassy.
Guests will also be able to unwind in the signature Park Hyatt Living Room and enjoy world-renowned artwork and design, as well as host events in a large ballroom.
We look forward to continuing the growth of our luxury brands across the UK market and beyond, providing a sophisticated and refined home-away-from-home experience for guests in some of the world’s most iconic locations. As we look towards next year, the pipeline across Europe is looking strong, expanding our luxury presence across the region: our first Andaz-branded hotel in Portugal will open in Lisbon; the debut of the first Alila-branded resort in Europe with Alila La Gruyère in Switzerland; and the reopening of the iconic Hotel Du Palais in Biarritz, France, in Spring 2021, which joins The Unbound Collection by Hyatt.
As we expand our resort, lifestyle and wellbeing offerings around the world, we will better cater to today’s increasingly diverse luxury travellers who seek greater personalisation, whether they are traveling for business or leisure.
The Great Scotland Yard Hotel, Unbound Collection by Hyatt opened before the pandemic and had to close. Tell us more about this unique property, the brand and the competitive advantages?
In line with the UK Government’s Covid-19 advice and guidelines, we closed the Great Scotland Yard Hotel in March. The hotel re-opened its iconic green doors again on 7 September 2020 and has remained open since.
The Great Scotland Yard Hotel is rich with stories dating back 1,000 years, which are brought to life through the intricate design details that have been cleverly incorporated into the award-winning interior by HBA. It is also the first property in the UK in the Unbound Collection by Hyatt brand – a brand which stands for extraordinary experiences, and I could not think of a better property to carry that flag, enticing guests to unlock the secrets hidden within the walls of this historic building.
Great Scotland Yard Hotel celebrates individualism and exploration, located just yards away from the heart of London’s West End, a stone’s throw away from Covent Garden and some of London’s most famous landmarks including the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and Downing Street to name a few, along the river Thames in the heart of the city.
Hyatt Regency London The Churchill is gearing up for an anniversary, including new suites. Please share more info.
2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Hyatt Regency London The Churchill and we had been gearing up for some exciting developments and celebrations throughout the year to celebrate our history and the local area of Marylebone. Unfortunately, due to lockdown, we have had to postpone a number of these plans. However, we are thrilled to be revealing our refurbished top suite to mark the occasion, re-named The Churchill Residential Suite.
The four-bedroom suite officially launches on 30 November, Sir Winston Churchill’s birthday. As the hotel’s top suite, it has long been a favourite for travellers from the Middle East, VIPs and travellers on diplomatic business. However, with our pivot towards the domestic market, we have ensured that the suite is also geared towards the leisure market. The design is modern yet still classically refined, and while there is an impressive office space for business travellers, the living space, expansive dual-facing balconies, and welcoming bedrooms have been designed in the style of an apartment – creating a real home-away-from-home for all travellers, including families.
In addition to the renovation of the Churchill Residential Suite we have refreshed the lobby which features works by British artists curated by our neighbours, Thompson’s Gallery. We have also redesigned the alfresco, heated terrace at The Churchill Bar & Terrace, just launched our pop-up “Montagu Winter Terrace” and introduced two new family room categories: Two-Bedroom Garden View Suite and Family Room Garden View.
We look forward to welcoming guests back to Hyatt Regency The Churchill.
- How have the properties in your region been weathering the ongoing pandemic? Which are your biggest challenges ? Which are the opportunities you envisage?
It has been an undeniably hard year across the industry, with all but one of our properties closing during the UK’s first lockdown. However, 2019 was an exceptionally good year for Hyatt hotels in the UK, which gives us a sense of inspiration and hope that our sector will bounce back.
The biggest challenge has been the management of the crisis across each unique hotel, getting each property into a position where it is resilient as we continue to ride this storm. We are an industry made up of people, making the hospitality industry a wholly personal one, and we must not lose sight of that. The close relationships between colleagues have been more acute than ever before as we’ve had to make difficult strategic decisions in restructuring teams and adapting to the immediate situation while looking towards the long term recovery. Naturally, this period of change has been hugely challenging for all those involved.
The pandemic has shown the agility of our UK hotel portfolio, and some comfort can be taken from the successes seen in some of our F&B outlets upon reopening in the summer, which exceeded our expectations. A clear sign of consumer demand, these results give us cause for optimism for the future. Furthermore, without international travel, we have seen an uptick in our domestic market, which we’re excited to be able to develop further and strengthen Hyatt’s place in the UK hospitality landscape.
- What wakes you up at night these days? (work related)
The ongoing global pandemic has brought significant challenges to the industry over the past nine months, and my main and immediate concern has been ensuring the care of our guests, colleagues and owners.
I’ve worked closely with our partners and teams to implement stringent health and safety practices that protect everyone who walks through our doors and continue driving our focus on advancing care. The early implementation of our Global Care & Cleanliness Commitment has helped us to meet these challenges.
Thinking ahead, despite the ongoing difficulties faced by the industry, our long-term strategy puts us in a strong position to deliver sustainable growth and recovery – building upon the success we saw in 2019 across our portfolio. We are a global company, but we are able to operate with agility and adapt with speed.
Our ongoing growth plans across Europe demonstrate this, with more than 20 executed managed and franchised deals for new hotels planned by 2023. We look forward to continuing this exciting journey with our customers, partners and colleagues from every corner of the globe as we approach 2021 and beyond.
With the pandemic, do you think consumers regard luxury differently? How have their expectations changed if in any way?
Since the first lockdown we have certainly noted some developments in consumer attitudes to hospitality. The biggest change for us has been the need to instil confidence in the consumer at every point of the guest journey. Luxury expectation has long been that things are simply taken care of for guests in a seamless fashion, with much work taking place behind the scenes to deliver a fantastic experience. Now guests assume we are keeping them safe during the pandemic; another element of that consumer expectation.
Some of the responses to these expectations are very tangible, such as the early implementation of the Global Care & Cleanliness Commitment. A robust cleanliness programme is integral to instilling consumer confidence and Hyatt was a very early adopter of the stricter protocol. Additionally, the increased use in technology to allow for appropriate social distancing between guests, and between guests and hotel staff, has become a standard expectation for consumers. Whether it’s check-in remotely, using your mobile phone as a remote control in-room, or viewing menus on phone screens in F&B outlets, hotels need to be up-to-date with all the latest technology in order to make guests feel safe and confident throughout their stay.
However, for me, the fundamental desire to seek out human connections has only been heightened as a result of the pandemic. While technological advances undoubtedly help to facilitate this, this can’t entirely replace authentic, meaningful human interactions. Our industry is based on emotional and personal connections – guests want to be listened to and engaged with, and after two lockdowns, this need is greater than ever.Tell us more about the Covid-19 safety and hygiene measures implemented at your hotels? How challenging is to ensure the consistency of their enforcement?
Early on in the pandemic, Hyatt launched Hyatt’s Global Care & Cleanliness Commitment, which works with trusted partners to build on already rigorous safety and cleanliness protocols across all Hyatt hotels in the UK and globally.
As part of our commitment, a trained hygiene and wellbeing leader or team was assigned at all locations, responsible for their hotel adhering to new operational protocols and training. A cross-functional panel of trusted medical and industry advisors – including experts from Cleveland Clinic – helped us to fine-tune safety protocols, considering various aspects of the entire hotel experience. Therefore, our staff have been trained from the start in the new protocols, and by the time we were able to open the various hotels and outlets, the implementation was efficient and effective.
Demonstrating this success in implementation, we achieved the GBAC (Global Biorisk Advisory Council) STAR facility accreditation for outbreak prevention, response and recovery at all of our hotels. GABC is a division of ISSA – The Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association – and GBAC STAR is well known as the gold standard of safe facilities, providing third-party validation that ensures facilities implement strict protocols for biorisk solutions.
Upon opening, we ensured our hotels were accredited as Covid-19 Confident by AA. The AA Covid Confident assessment scheme was launched by leading hospitality organisation, AA Hotel & Hospitality Services, in response to the pandemic and the accreditation promises our guests that all of our hotels and outlets have in place the necessary risk assessments, safety measures and staff training to reopen safely.
Do you agree that, ideally, all these measures should be perceived by guests as being implemented effortlessly?
Yes, very much so. The nature of hospitality always has, and always will be, looking after guests so that they feel at ease and well taken care of. New protocols and procedures, whether behind-the-scenes or otherwise, form part of our operations and standard practice which must be implemented effortlessly. Guests will always expect a seamless service and experience throughout their customer journey with us, of which these measures are simply a new facet in the constant evolution of the industry.
With all the challenges, is there a new recipe in providing the best possible customer service?
For me, what sets us apart is our purpose. Across each and every one of our hotels, everything we do is grounded in listening and fuelled by care. Listening to feedback to really understand our customers’ needs is what helps us to build truly personal connections and experiences for our guests.
For us, delivering high quality service is key, but delivering high quality care is essential. Bricks and mortar are easily copied, but human and team traits are not – and these personal, authentic connections are more important than ever against the backdrop of the pandemic.
Central to this is our belief that a ‘one size fits all’ approach cannot exist within our industry. We work closely with our partners and owners to identify solutions and opportunities that are the right fit for the communities within which they operate. Whether that’s location, facilities, design, we want our hotels to fit seamlessly into the community, so that our customers and guests feel truly at home when they walk through the door.
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