How would you define the COMO Hotels and Resorts DNA?
COMO Hotels and Resorts offer luxury travel experiences with personalised service in elegant properties, each individually curated to reflect its location. COMO Hotels and Resorts is committed to creating extraordinary experiences for curious people with a passion for a life lived fully. Our properties, from Bhutan to Miami, draw their inspiration from compelling locations. To this we bring our expertise in nurturing mind-body wellness, as well as world-class cuisine and exacting service. None of our hotels are the same, though our values are consistent – underpinned with a belief in responsible living and the memorable power of meaningful experiences. Above all, COMO provides reassurance in your search for respite from a fast-moving world, so you can feel the joy of living the present moment when the sun sets on your pool in the Turks and Caicos, or on a Buddhist temple in the valleys of Bhutan.
Which other hotel chains you consider as part of your comp set?
Within each market we have a different comp set but I would say AMAN and Six Senses are following in COMO Hotels and Resorts footsteps in terms of the bespoke offering, focus on holistic wellness and the locations where they are expanding.
Luxury hotel chains / groups which both own and operate their properties are recognised for providing a consistent service and a constantly updated product. Is this also the case for COMO Hotels and Resorts?
Absolutely and this is one of our defining elements and one of the reasons why we have so many repeat guests. While none of our hotels are the same, our ethos and enduring values are found in each and every property and our values are consistent and underpinned with a belief in responsible living and the memorable power of meaningful experiences. COMO Hotels and Resorts is continually updating the products across the portfolio, whether it’s the opening of Gridiron by COMO, which is opening here at COMO Metropolitan London, or the renovations we have just completed in the Bar and Lobby at COMO The Halkin.
What is luxury for you and how have luxury travellers changed in the past years?
I believe that luxury is a perception and everyone has a different concept of what defines luxury. From my experience, “luxury” is not reinventing the wheel, but making sure we are going back to the basic foundations of hospitality. It’s the small details and touch-points of a guests’ stay and experience, in particular the human factor delivered by our associates, which can really make an impact on a guest and deliver a luxury experience, what I like to call “Retour à la source”.
How different, if in any way, are COMO’s urban properties to resort properties? In London you have two hotels. Could you briefly describe them?
Our properties in Miami, London, Bangkok and Perth are unique and an integral part of our portfolio. For many guests they either experience an urban property first and then want to discover our wider resort offering or vice versa, whereby they want to continue their COMO Hotels and Resorts experience when they are in metropolitan destinations around the world.
The ethos of our urban properties is the same and each of the properties are distinct to their destination. For example, COMO The Halkin is one of the original COMO Hotels and Resorts situated in the heart of Belgravia. We have a fantastic restaurant there, Ametsa with Arzak Instruction, which is in association with the renowned Arzak family. We have many repeat guests who love the serenity and calmness of the Belgravia area.
COMO Metropolitan London meanwhile, is located on bustling Park Lane, which is the perfect location for business travellers and tourists to explore the city. This October, we are launching Gridiron, which is a modern, live-fire grill restaurant. The restaurant is the result of a unique collaboration with leading British chef Richard Turner and combines Turner’s expertise in open flame cooking and ethical sourcing with COMO Metropolitan London’s history in creating destination-defining restaurants.
London is known to present particular challenges to luxury hotels when it comes to retention of staff. What has been your approach?
For us, COMO is about identifying people who resonate and live the COMO brand. At the end of the day, every hotel company can say the same but everything starts with the people leading the ship and making sure that the rest of the key roles in the organization cascade down the genuine care for their colleagues. There is a strong culture at COMO Hotels and Resorts of developing associates through the business and colleagues moving within the business because they believe in the COMO brand and the ethos. For example, I joined COMO Hotels and Resorts in 2012 as acting General Manager of COMO Cocoa Island in the Maldives before taking over the same role at COMO The Halkin. I then moved to the United States as the opening General Manager of COMO Metropolitan Miami Beach before opening COMO Hotels and Resorts’ newest property, COMO Uma Canggu and now I am back in London at COMO Metropolitan London.
COMO Hotels and Resorts is known for its discreet communications / promotions. Tell us more.
COMO Hotels and Resorts is a discrete luxury brand and that has always been its ethos as created by the Ong family. Over the past 20 years, they have created a strong vision and positioning for the brand as pioneers in wellness and delivering luxury personal experiences. Many brands are now following suit, but discretion has always been a key focus of COMO Shambhala and COMO Hotels and Resorts.
How important are F&B and Spas for COMO Hotels and Resorts and what is the company’s strategic approach?
The F&B and strong wellness offering are integral to the DNA of COMO Hotels and Resorts. COMO Shambhala celebrated its 20th anniversary last year and has become a defining experience and offering across the portfolio. For example, in every room – whether you are at COMO Metropolitan Miami Beach, COMO Shambhala Estate in Bali or COMO Metropolitan London – there is a complimentary yoga mat in your room which you can use during your stay to enjoy and experience the complimentary wellbeing activities, ranging from yoga to Pilates to meditation, depending on the location. Similarly, COMO Shambhala Cuisine was developed by COMO’s Group Executive Chef over a 10-year period, with the belief that healthy cuisine can and should be both nutritious and delicious. It therefore has been specially developed and focuses on a perfectly calibrated mix of raw and cooked ingredients with very specific nutritional purposes to boost concentration and energy, and balance blood-sugar levels. Living enzymes are retained in the preparation techniques—all in order to help cleanse the body from the outside in.
What is the importance technology plays when ensuring the utmost comfort in the accommodations of your hotels?
Technology is part of the in-room and hotel experience but is not the main focus at COMO Metropolitan London. We use technology in unique ways, for example at COMO The Halkin we created an in-room Meditation Channel whereby guests can unwind and meditate in the surroundings of their own room and at their own schedule.
You are planning to open a brand new restaurant this Fall. Can you share more details?
Gridiron is a modern, live-fire grill restaurant in the heart of Mayfair and is the result of a unique collaboration with leading British chef Richard H. Turner. Officially launching on 30th October, Gridiron combines Turner’s expertise in open flame cooking and ethical sourcing with COMO Metropolitan London’s history in creating destination- defining restaurants.
Gridiron pays homage to the ancient art of grilling with its open kitchen format. The exposed grill, feature bar and countertop dining add to the spontaneity of service, offering a sensorial experience of smoke, fire and interactivity.
The hearty menu celebrates in-season, ethically-sourced ingredients with meat, native fish and beautiful vegetables given equal attention. Fire-cooked specialities to be shared or enjoyed individually include grilled squid with roast cod and girolles, lemon and parsley, fire-baked pumpkin, pickled walnuts and buttermilk, Barnsley Hillside hogget chop, and rare-breed Sirloin on the bone. Finely sourced charcuterie are on the menu, as well as comely English deserts such as honey tart and pumpkin ice cream with pistachio candy.
Old world wines dominate Gridiron’s wine list, curated by Fiona Beckett with Gridiron’s smoky flavours in mind. Max and Noel Venning, brothers and award-winning mixologists, have created light and refreshing cocktails to complement the depth of flavours and warmth of the design by leading interior design firm Macaulay Sinclair.
More from LEADERS
In conversation with Philipp Weghmann, EVP of Europe for Preferred Hotels & Resorts (Exclusive interview)
1. How has your company performed in 2018 and what are your expectations for 2018? 2018 proved to be an excellent …
The Cheval Blanc Hotel Collection is defined as an “experiential luxury” under the dedicated LVMH Hotel Management division. Tell us …
How is Seabourn positioned in the crowded ‘five star’, some say ‘luxury’ cruise market, globally? Seabourn is positioned incredibly well in …