How would you define the DNA of Dreams Hotel Group which runs through all your brands?
AB: Dream Hotel Group’s DNA is a true lifestyle approach to hotels. When you combine this commitment with our experience in some of the world’s biggest cities, it’s evident we are committed to the philosophy that forward-thinking design, service and guest experiences should be available across market segments. As a company, we are dedicated to offering travellers an authentic connection to their chosen destination through a truly original approach.
Your company takes pride in its ‘unconventional’ approach, as a base for your success. Tell us more.
AB: Our company has a depth of knowledge and experience – a 30-year history of managing properties in some of the world’s most competitive hotel environments like New York. In many of the markets we enter, there is a serious lack of true lifestyle product, and nothing like what we offer. Our entrepreneurial operating model of unique and fun food and beverage offerings and creating destinations with our hotels gives us an edge over other brands. We also strive to stand out with our forward-thinking design, service and unique guest experiences.
Our goal is to stay relevant to the communities we operate in, creating a social hub and destination. We make each hotel the most fun and most exciting hotel in its market.
Is there any geographical area you are particularly targeting and believe it presents the best opportunities for your group?
AB: We have a great presence in US and also have several new projects under development. With our aggressive global growth plans, several international markets are promising – the Asia Pacific region in particular with tremendous potential. Asia Pacific represents diverse cultures and beautiful destinations. With the emerging middle class, strong growth is predicted in the region for the hotel sector. The tourism outlook continues to be very positive and new destinations are being sought after by travelers. Our lifestyle brands cater to the global traveler that enjoys experiential stays and innovative food & beverage offerings, and we look forward to having our brand footprint in this part of the world.
You include several brands in your portfolio. What is the distinction between them and how do you achieve consistency when it comes to both hardware and software?
AB: For a relatively small brand, Dream casts a large halo for our other brands. When people trust and love what a brand does / what it represents – in this case Dream – it’s easy to connect the dots back to the entire group. We do this by bringing the same level of creativity, service and experience to all our hotel brands.
DREAM has huge upside on the F&B front, as well as a healthy positioning from a rooms perspective. They are trophies that actually throw off some serious profit. It requires a big box in a location and community that can support at least four or more F&B venues, so prime locations in the top 20 MSAs domestically. Each Dream Hotel is a getaway on its own, with upscale amenities, obsessive-meets-compulsive service, built-in nightlife, chef-driven dining experiences and a raw energy drawn from some of the most stimulating cities of its own. In Dream Hollywood, we house TAO Group’s newest dining and nightlife concept, The Highlight Room, a luxe 11,000-square-foot outdoor rooftop, lounge, pool and grill with unparalleled aerial views of the Los Angeles skyline.
TIME offers the same positioning in terms of the level that Dream affords with application to smaller sites. Our target audience is slightly different as well. It represents a sort of evolved space between luxury and lifestyle; a more streamlined approach to the upper upscale segment. One good signature restaurant and one good lounge is the baseline requirement. TIME caters to a clientele looking for progressively designed spaces and forward-thinking dining options with a relaxed approach, choosing to take a more evolved perspective on the lifestyle hotel movement
THE CHATWAL is a true luxury boutique model that requires a very specific setting and all of the trappings that the luxury tier brings, with a modern flare. The Chatwal Hotel in New York City is situated in the theatre district’s Great White Way, in a circa-1905 building that was once home to the famous Lamb Club, blending the past with the future while managing a uniquely New York character.
UNSCRIPTED is on track to become the fastest-growing new brand in Dream Hotel Group portfolio. We use a combination of hyper local food and beverage offerings, thoughtful design and a culture of friendly, approachable service to delight guests’ senses, jolt their creativity and amplify their lifestyle.
Many consider that the most successful luxury hotel companies are those who own and manage their properties. What is your view?
AB: Dream Hotel Group is a hotel management company bringing its unique brands and skills to operating new hotels. While the group owned some of its assets in the past, Dream Hotel Group is taking an asset light approach moving forward and it has been a great success. We are able to move quickly into new markets, and work with developers who are already completely involved and committed to that community. It’s a win-win.
Has the relationship with owners changed, if in any way, in the past years?
AB: It’s always been about our relationships with all the stakeholders. We spend a great deal of time looking for the right partners, those who truly embrace our brands and what Dream Hotel Group provides in lifestyle experiences combined with their intimate knowledge of that particular location. We customize each project keeping in mind consumer demands, owner’s vision and local community to make the hotel a success.
To what extent your luxury brands relate to lifestyle?
AB: In the same vein as the Dream Hotel Group DNA, The Chatwal draws the raw energy of its locale, and translates it in a way that appeals to a luxury audience. The Chatwal in New York City also has its own chef-driven F&B concept, The Lambs Club affiliation with award-winning chef Geoffrey Zakarian is a key component of the Dream Hotel Group identity. It is a nod to the “baby grand” hotels of a bygone era, with modern luxury accessories and an authentic New York City identity.
Which are the biggest challenges you are facing nowadays and which are the uncovered opportunities?
AB: It is an exciting opportunity to grow our brand presence around the globe and bring a different offer to new markets. Whilst we have had hotels operating, most of our presence has been in the United States. Internationally we still have a long road ahead of us in raising the brand profile. Entering a new market is never easy. It’s even tougher when you want to develop in a completely new region. There are several projects underway in Thailand, Vietnam, Maldives, the Philippines, and that will all help overcome this challenge.
Maintaining consistency both in product and service is key to the success of a luxury hotel property. What is your approach to Human Resources – discovering and nurturing talent
AB: We are building a strong and diverse team that will deliver results and help with growing our presence of hotel brands globally. Dream Hotel Group is rapidly expanding with new and existing locations worldwide, and we are working to be sure to find strong talent who is looking to work for a company that has entrepreneurial roots. We are still small enough where we are able to pivot quickly when it comes to new markets and innovative ideas. We are looking for people who want to be part of this fast-moving environment and it’s important that we place an emphasis on diversity of thought in order for us to expand and grow further in the region.
Mr Abit Butt – brief biography
With more than 30 years of global experience in the hospitality industry, Abid Butt’s strategic acumen and drive to innovate has been instrumental in the launch of several hospitality brands; Four Points, Angsana, Dhawa and Cassia. An engaged professional dedicated to making a difference, he has been an ambassador for the industry, having frequently spoken at global conferences and served as an advisor for several industry organizations. Prior to joining Dream Hotel Group, Mr. Butt served as Chief Executive Officer of Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts making a return to the group after initially serving as the first Vice President of Operations in 2012.
“Abid Butt joins us at a very opportune moment in our journey as we continue to focus on our international expansion efforts,” said Dream Hotel Group CEO Jay Stein. “Abid is known as a compassionate and results-driven professional who believes anything is achievable, and we are confident he will lead us through our next phase of international development and growth.”
Dream Hotel Group recently signed its first hotel in the Philippines with SkyCity Leisure Resorts Inc. to develop Dream Carabao Island, set to open in March 2020. The news followed that of the signing of Dream New Delhi with Viiking Ventures Chairman, Sachiin J. Joshi, on track to open in the Central Business District in 2019. The group also signed two hotels in the Maldives with local entrepreneur Mohamed Manik and Alpha Kinam Holdings. The Chatwal Maaga Maldives and Dream Gasveli Maldives are scheduled to open in 2019 and 2020 respectively. Dream Hotel Group also signed its first hotel in the Middle East with Qatar- based Al Alfia Holding to develop a Dream Hotel in Doha, the state capital, in 2020.
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