Which are the pillars which have firmly established ST REGIS as a luxury powerhouse brand?
St. Regis was born in the Gilded Age but continues to define the modern era, by leveraging its history in a way that speaks to the next generation of luxury traveler. Our flagship hotel, The St. Regis New York, was founded over a century ago in 1904 by John Jacob Astor IV, a true vanguard with a spirit of innovation whose goal was to create a home away from home for the Astor family’s luminary friends and notable guests visiting from Europe. Found at the finest addresses across the globe, St. Regis Hotels & Resorts continues to celebrate and honour the Astors’ legacy through our iconic architecture, emblematic design, renowned rituals and traditions including Afternoon Tea, St. Regis’ signature cocktail the Bloody Mary, evening champagne sabrage, and an unparalleled level of service, as demonstrated by our St. Regis Butlers.
Consistency is crucial in luxury hospitality. How important was it to balance the choice of locations?
St. Regis is always focused on growing where luxury is growing. We seek out the finest address in every location and anticipate the destinations that our guests will want to visit, whether it’s for business or pleasure. We are thoughtful in our approach to select these special sites that will become home to the next Houses of Astor, offering our guests a carefully curated mix of urban and resort destinations. From a secluded island getaway like Bermuda to an enchanted city like Cairo, we also always carefully consider the local contextual insights and cultures that inform each St. Regis, like a modern-day Astor estate, infusing our rich brand legacy and design signatures with local narratives.
What about coherence in terms of service, especially since properties are spanning a vast array of cultures and markets which, in some cases, boast different economical / political context.
Since the opening of the first St. Regis hotel, the brand has remained committed to an uncompromising level of anticipatory service for all its guests. Every St. Regis hotel and resort is a reflection of its locale, with its own distinct voice and culture, but guests will consistently experience an exceptional level of service. The St. Regis butler is a hallmark of the brand, offering personalized, around-the-clock service that allows for each guest’s stay to be completely customized according to their individual preferences. We continue to fine tune and codify our Butler Service experience across our portfolio and will be sharing more on this later this year.
In the evolution of the brand, some properties had fashion designer suites (one or two suites). Isn’t this trend relevant nowadays, especially with luxury travelers being more demanding, less patient and seeking an instant WOW factor?
The St. Regis New York originated the designer suite trend with the debut of its Tiffany and Dior suites. We’ve continued this legacy by adding to our portfolio of designer suites – such as the Bottega Veneta Suite at The St. Regis Rome and the Bentley Suite at The St. Regis Istanbul. We have certainly seen a demand for more unique and, dare I say Instagrammable, travel experiences, and we are always finding new ways to meet these needs. From creative partnerships with like-mined brands to offering the opportunity for our guests to discover a destination through bespoke experiences arranged by our concierge teams, our hotels and resorts go above and beyond to deliver on this desire.
Many other luxury hotel brand chains have put a major emphasis on famous interior designers. What is your view?
St. Regis tends to work with designers and design firms who are either based in the location of the property or have a connection to the destination. Across our portfolio, we work with designers who can speak authentically to each location, whether it is a world-renowned designer or an up-and-coming firm. For example, we worked with acclaimed architect André Fu on The St. Regis Hong Kong, which first opened its doors in 2019. Born and raised in Hong Kong, Fu was able to create a design narrative that captures the feeling of the destination, as well as the glamorous St. Regis spirit.
The novelty aspect in F&B has become critical nowadays – whether in the form of completely overturning existing concepts and bringing new ones or, in many cases, hotels are opting for pop-ups.
St. Regis has always been at the forefront of today’s ever-changing luxury travel trends and in recent years we’ve seen a demand for one-of-a-kind culinary experiences. We are constantly innovating our culinary experiences – whether it’s a unique pop-up or local on-property experience. For example, at The St. Regis Aspen Resort, our Chefs Club features innovative seasonal menus from legendary chefs around the world – from Eleven Madison Park in New York to Conca del Songno in Italy. We’re also proud to have a number of Michelin-starred restaurants in our portfolio. L’Envol, a contemporary French restaurant at The St. Regis Hong Kong, was awarded its second Michelin star this year for signature items such as Brittany razor clams “a la mariniere”, while the property’s Cantonese restaurant, Rùn, retained its Michelin star.
The St. Regis Mallorca’s Es Fum was awarded a Michelin star for its fresh local produce and seasonality, and the Winter Garden at The St. Regis Florence received a star for showcasing the culinary traditions of Tuscany. In some cases, we are even extending signature culinary moments beyond our properties. At Louix Louis, the stunning restaurant at The St. Regis Toronto, pastry chef Gerald Tan created a limited edition Queen’s Cake to go – a creative riff off of the restaurant’s wildly popular King Cake.
Food and beverage have always been a hallmark of the St. Regis brand. Our flagship hotel, The St. Regis New York still serves the original Bloody Mary recipe, which was perfected at the hotel in 1934. Additionally, each St. Regis property around the world creates their own version of the iconic Bloody Mary cocktail, utilizing local ingredients.
Which are the key competitive advantages for an investor / developer potentially opting for ST REGIS?
What distinguishes St. Regis from other hotel brands is our rich history and celebrated traditions. The brand is renowned for its legacy of innovation, highly bespoke service, and commitment to honoring our heritage in a modern, avant-garde way. Our hotels and resorts are sought after around the world and each property is a destination in and of itself. Given the relatively small footprint of our brand at 46 hotels & resorts globally, St. Regis has a true feeling of exclusivity and rarity, while still offering the opportunity to help grow the brand in some of the world’s most iconic destinations…I personally would love to see a St. Regis in Paris one day!
How important is for ST REGIS stories to have a story line?
St. Regis’ story line is part of our DNA – inspired by legacy of the founding family, the Astor’s. Our story was born in the city of New York and has continued to grow as the brand expanded around the world. Each St. Regis ties back to the original property in some way and is very much a modern expression John Jacob Astor IV’s vision. I truly believe that story telling is an incredibly important part of the hospitality industry in general. To me, luxury hotels are closely tied to the cinematic world in the way we are creating, and then inviting, our guests into a world that is magical and enchanting. We craft scenes and want to be the place where our guests’ storylines unfold. Additionally, the anticipation for a trip, the memories that remain after, and the stories we tell about the experience are as important as the vacation itself. Our hotels must tell a story that transcends design to service, food and beverage and on-property experiences.
Post-pandemic, which are the challenges you still see remaining for a while? What about opportunities?
It will take time for business travel to return, and it will likely look a little different than it did pre-pandemic. People, however, are extremely eager to travel and there is an incredible pent-up demand for luxury leisure travel in particular. Across the St. Regis brand, we are seeing an immediate impact in leisure bookings in both short term as well as advanced bookings in resort destinations such as The St. Regis Aspen Resort, The St. Regis Deer Valley Resort, and The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort. Travelers are ready to reconnect with friends and family and are looking for more opportunities to experience the outdoors and disconnect from the digital world.
What novelties shall we expect at ST REGIS Hotels & Resorts in 2021?
This year has already presented some exciting moment for the brand as we recently opened The St. Regis Cairo, and will be unveiling the highly anticipated St. Regis Bermuda Resort this month. This debut marks an increased focus on resort destinations and offering unique experiences for leisure seekers. The St. Regis New York will also reopen in June, signalling an important moment in the post-pandemic era for New York City.
At the helm of one of the most iconic luxury brands in the hospitality industry, George is a citizen of the world – born in Germany before embracing a career in hospitality that has taken him across The Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific – and he is looking forward to beginning his travels again as we move through 2021 with Bermuda next on his list. George approaches the brand through a lifestyle lens bringing the glamorous history of St. Regis to life for a new and unprecedented era.
A visionary leader with an entrepreneurial approach, George currently oversees St. Regis’s global portfolio of nearly 50 hotels & resorts, leading all efforts around service (the St. Regis butler service is a brand hallmark), design and marketing. Highly regarded for his ability to help establish and transform brands across all categories, George has recently established a new, long-term strategic vision for St. Regis – enlivening the transformation from hospitality icon to global luxury powerhouse brand. Marquee recent and coming openings for St. Regis include The St. Regis Cairo, The St. Regis Bermuda Resort, The St. Regis Chicago and The St. Regis Dubai, The Palm. The brand is also is on track to nearly double its resort portfolio by 2024 with nine luxury resorts in the pipeline.
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