Ibis. Not hot.

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FOXTROTS

   

Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning. 

 Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance. 

 

2007 August 27

Ibis. Not hot.

I arrived in Warsaw one recent Sunday on the train from another part of Poland. My flight to Zurich was scheduled to leave at 0745 the following day. I checked into Accor’s Ibis hotel at about 1500.

I dropped off bags and went out again returning at about 1800 to freshen up before going out for dinner. On return decided not to shower because I was getting up at 0400 and could do it then.

Got up at 0400 for a taxi booked at 0500. There was no hot water…!!!

I took a (quick) cold shower. At check-out I asked why I had not been advised about the hot water. They offered what appeared to be an untrue excuse about construction work on an adjacent site knocking out (only) the hot water. On a Sunday, during the night?

Difficult to believe although admittedly not impossible. But if not, why did they not advise guests – fear of losing business? Although, of course, they (Accor) have lost business, although the hotel itself has not. 

The Fox

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Easy Group. Serial in 2 parts.

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FOXTROTS

   Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning.  Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance.  

 

2007 August 24

    Easy Group. Serial in 2 parts.   …or the battle between orange and ginger.    In the orange corner is Stelios Forgettherest, head of the Easy Group, whose corporate colour group is orange. Stelios is moving into Asia with his Easy Hotels. Well, sort of.    Stelios – who previously ran a cornflakes company (his business card says he is a ‘Serial Entrepreneur’) – has signed with Istithmar Hotels to develop Easy budget hotels in India, Pakistan, Middle East, and North Africa.     He talks of building 38 hotels in five years, which seems to be much slower than possible for a brand at this level. And particularly because Istithmar is actually owned by Dubai World – which means the Dubai government. A background like that should mean faster-than-usual expansion.    Istithmar (an investment group like Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Hotels) likes big talkers. It is also working with Kerzner International, headed by Sol Kerzner with two resort brands – the big and brash Atlantis and the opposite, One & Only (of which, despite that name, there are a few).    In the ginger corner is Raymond Bickson, head of India’s Taj hotel group. Although better known for upper-market hotels, Taj also has a blooming budget brand – Ginger.    Bickson, who like Stelios, has met me, plans to open 15 of these Ginger hotels in India this year, and then a regular 24/year from 2008 – two a month. That compares with about one-every-two-months from the orange people.   The Fox

Hyatt brands. Doubling up.

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 FOXTROTS  Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning.  Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance. 

 

2007 August 20

  Hyatt brands. Doubling up.  That’s two new brands, from Hyatt. It already has three – Grand, Park, and Regency – although G&P are sometimes close (conceptually-speaking), although Parks generally seem to be smaller, although rarely near a park (geographically-speaking).   In fact, Hyatt was already considered to have some smart trendy hotels in those three original evolved brands, but it has felt the need to separate these into a new stand-alone brand – Hyatt Place. Although the company may not like the link, this is a continuation of the trend started by Starwood’s W – although that in itself was not the first of this genre (that’s to show I know words other than ‘trendy’), just the first to be clearly identified.   Ironically, some early Hyatt Regencies were trendy, but before it became trendy to be trendy – if you are still with me.   The other new Hyatt brand is Andaz. Just like everyone else, Hyatt wants to be different. So in the spirit of ‘aman’, from the classical sanskrit language (so I am told; that language one skill I am not claiming for the present), Hyatt has chosen the hindi ‘andaz’, meaning ‘personal style’.   At least I assume that is where the word Andaz comes from. Of course I may be wrong. It could always be named after what I call a BB (Bollywood Blockbuster) – the 1971 film of that name, which was a love triangle.   For the next group that wants to be different and choose a sanskrit name as well, I propose Akash (upper skies, so implying grandluxe), or maybe Bahuvrihi (used to mean rich man). Give me time and I can look up others on wikipedia.   The Fox

Jinjiang. Signs exclusive – again.

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FOXTROTS

   Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning.  Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance.  

 

2007 August 17

    Jinjiang. Signs exclusive – again.    You will recall that in 2005 in this very section, I advised my reader to watch out for a deal between Shanghai’s Jinjiang group and Starwood. That came to pass in 2006, although with Starwood Capital, and I had expected Starwood Hotels to be the partner.     I did not think (ok, I had no idea) to watch out for another deal. But that has come to pass now, with Fairmont – whose ownership and branding is so convoluted that I am waiting for its break-up so it will be easier for me to understand.     Be that as it may, US-based Fairmont has signed a deal for the rehabilitation (more than refurbishing, less than a rebuild) of Jinjiang’s Peace Hotel, on the Bund in Shanghai. This hotel has almost had more (failed) foreign partners than guests. Not, I hasten to add, that is what I am suggesting will happen with the Fairmont deal.     Nor will I note that it would make more sense for this Shanghai hotel to be a Raffles hotel; Shanghai seems to be Raffles territory. But then again, it would make more sense for some of those far-flung-from-Asia Raffles resorts to be Fairmonts.     In case you missed it, Fairmont and Raffles are sort of one company, as well as being sort of separate, sort of. If you get my meaning. And concerning that convoluted Fairmont/Raffles deal, if partners operate like this (moving into the other’s territory/area-of-expertise), what chance for the rest of us?     Sorry, almost forgot about the Shanghai deal. The Peace hotel will close, not sure when, and reopen as the Fairmont Peace in 2010.      The Fox

Ritz Reserve. Describing the undescribable.

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 FOXTROTS  Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning.  Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance. 

 

2007 August 16

   Ritz Reserve. Describing the undescribable.   Hardly a month seems to go by without another hotel group announcing a new hotel brand or sub-brand. I believe that it is hard for the traveller to retain all this, but these days business is so good that is almost irrelevant.   Even Ritz-Carlton, which is already a reluctant brandname (of Marriott), is joining in. I asked Simon Cooper, head of RC – who has met me – to describe his new sort-of brand, The Reserve.   “Well, John,” (not my real name), he replied. “The Reserve brand will feature signature, one-of-a-kind boutique resorts located in choice settings, each with a distinctive personality and sense of place. A refuge from the expected, The Reserve is for travellers seeking to discover a singular location [sic] and peerless resort that, through its design and services, has a distinctive personality that blends together [sic] the culture, history and heritage of its setting.   “The Reserve brand will be distinguished from other award-winning Ritz-Carlton resorts by offering guests’ [sic] exotic, hand-selected ‘hideaway’ destinations; a relaxed, casually elegant atmosphere; and an even greater level of individualized service through a higher staff to guest ratio [sic].”   Ok, got it, despite the in-built grammar challenges. A sort-of special place, unique, and different from resorts that are, well, not the same. But don’t try and remember all this, because RC Reserves are refuges “from the expected” – which, it would seem, makes them somewhat difficult to promote.    The Fox