Accommodating Luxury.

Leave a comment



TROTTINGS = Trip Jottings

The Fox Trots: Travel Stories from The Fox.


January 3 2014

Accommodating Luxury.

Updates* on hotel companies from the ILTM trade show in Cannes last month:



Anantara, Thailand-based.

-Part of Minor Group. Started only in 2001 and already 26 hotels. Opened seven in 2013; five due this year.

-Minor has 100 hotels in group. Other brands are Avani, Elewana, Oaks, Per Aquum.



Banyan Tree, Singapore-based.

-33 properties, including Angsana, its still-unsuccessful second brand. Plans to near-double in the next five years – to 63 resorts.

-The company is 20 years old this year.



Como, Singapore-based.

-Opened Phuket last November. Next are Maldives (2nd; due end of last month; owned, which is unusual for Maldives) and first in North America, Miami (Metropolitan, due this month). That will give it 12 properties.

-Moving away from destination driven to activity driven.



Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong-based.

-Getting further on its plan to be recognised as best luxury hotel group in the world. No precise measure for this; company says various measures.

-Has 45 hotels; plus 17 under construction and development. Opened in Guangzhou and Shanghai Pudong in 2013. Taipei due this year, plus resorts in Morocco, Turkey.

-Also has 13 ‘Residences by Mandarin Oriental’ next to its hotels. These are different from the serviced apartments it manages.

-No plans yet for a points-and-prizes loyalty program. But, aware that it needs to ‘recognise’ guests, has started Global Guest, where it can register guests’ interests.

-It offers free hi-speed internet access in rooms. In each hotel the guest can connect six devices.

-21st century luxury with Oriental charm.



Peninsula Group, Hong Kong-based.

-Anniversaries this year – 85 years Hong Kong, 25 years New York, 15 years Bangkok.



Regent, Taiwan-based.

-Next, Montenegro. At present the resort is heavily seasonal (summer), but as more hotels open, the season might expand.

-Developing a sub-brand. It has used what it calls the old-style Regent (big lobby, big shopping, flash) for certain secondary cities.

-Formosa, owner of Regent, has several other businesses, including other hotel brands – one called Silks and Silks Place, and a 1-star brand called Just Sleep.



Relais & Chateaux, France-based.

-515 hotels, down from 520. New destinations – Croatia, Dominican Republic, Latvia, Mauritius, Russia, Turkey.

-Wants to expand but no actual number. Wants growth in all emerging markets, but particularly Asia Pacific, then Latin America, Russia.

-Has added Portuguese for websites; now six languages.

-This year is 60th anniversary.

-Despite its international growth, R&C is using an all-French promotion – Routes To Bonheur. Meaningless to most non-French, but symbolic to French as it was the name given to the R7 road from Paris to happy-holiday times in Nice.

-R&C’s CEO says the company has banned the word ‘luxury’ because it wants customers to first recognise “authenticity” in its hotels. At the same time, R&C chairman (elected; the CEO is a staff appointment) said the word had not been banned!



Ritz Carlton, US-based.

-Now half of its 85 hotels are outside US.



Rosewood, Hong Kong-based.

-Opened in London in 2012 after spending US$137mn (£85mn) on refurbishing the existing building.

-Using personalities, such as ex-US secretary of state (foreign minister), Condoleezza Rice, to talk about their favourite Rosewood hotels. Similar theme to Mandarin-Oriental’s fans promotion, but with more action. Also as MO, Rosewood gives a donation to charity. It decides the amount, which it will not precise more than “considerable”.



Six Senses, Thailand-based.

-For new developments, the design element may be stronger. SS says when it took over, customers told it that the design was a little-too ‘flintstone’ – “maybe more design, less timber”.

-Company is “about reconnecting people to themselves, family, and world. We want to leave something behind in the world. Doing something good for guests, staff, and communities where we are.”

-It believes it can change people’s lives.



Small Luxury Hotels, UK-based.

-Has 520 properties in 70 countries.

-Strong 2013: 311-315mn roomnights; US$344 average room rate.



Starwood, US-based.

-When Starwood founder Barry Sternlicht launched W it was for people like him – rich, young, etc.

-“The four Clarins sisters party in W Bogota (Colombia) is today’s equivalent of a dining room of a transAtlantic steamship 100 years ago.”

-“Luxury ain’t niche; it’s the new mass.”

*Different reports on these companies have run in the Net Value report, the ZERO report, the Asia Pacific and Europe editions of the Travel Business Analyst newsletter, and on



The Fox

End-year. Travel definitions. My misogynous message.

Leave a comment



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

Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance.

December 31 2013

End-year. Travel definitions. My misogynous message.

Perhaps the end of the year is as a good a time to ruminate as any. Here are two observations from me. How mis-stated industry terminology is twisting analysis – ‘travel & tourism’, ‘LCCs and legacy airlines’.

‘Travel & Tourism’

My part in its downfall. I don’t want to spoil the fun (ok, yes I do), but it is time for me to comment on the phrase ‘travel and tourism’, which has become almost universal – even with otherwise intelligent people. The problem is the phrase is a meaningless nonsense.

I blame Geoffrey Lipman for ‘inventing’ the phrase for when he launched WTTC. But I accept that he had a special need – he could hardly call the new association ‘WTC’ because that would be too close to WTTC’s rival WTO, World Tourism Organization.

The reason T&T is a nonsense is that the word ‘travel’ includes everything – aviation, hotels, business travel, leisure travel, VFR, sports travel, religious tourism, medical tourism, so on and so on. ‘Tourism’ has no precise grammatical meaning, but colloquially most people would assume it to mean leisure travel, or holidays, or vacations. Not business travel.

Yet the World Tourism Organization (still its proper name, by the way, not UNWTO or UN World Tourism Organization) somehow managed to persuade experts in the discipline of travel statistics and analysis that ‘tourism’ should mean all types of travel – including business, leisure, and so on.

If you want to look, though, you can see that in most cases the WTO, and most others, still use ‘tourism’ in the sense of inbound travel only, and leisure travel only. But that is another story.

Back to T&T. If ‘travel’ means all types of travel, ‘and tourism’ means (according to the WTO) all types of travel, then what can ‘travel and tourism’ mean? You cannot have more than everything.

I famously asked David Scowsill, current head of WTTC, what was his definition of T&T in the association’s name. Would you believe, he more famously replied that he did not know!

Despite all this, I don’t think I am going to turn the world back to ‘travel’ (which is perfectly adequate), but I will still use ‘travel’ to mean all travel, and ‘tourism’ to mean leisure travel.

‘LCCs, legacy airlines’

More misnomers.

LCCs – low-cost-carriers.

-Dismiss ‘carriers’ for a start. Not very important, but the word should be ‘airlines’; ‘carriers’ is often used for others, such as ships, trucks, pigeons.

-‘Low-cost’. It means low-cost for the traveller; ie, low-fares. Not low-cost for the airline – for instance, Thai Airways is low-cost in comparison with Swiss Air. But what is the point when regular airlines also have low fares, and at certain periods their fares are lower than those on so-called LCCs?

‘Legacy airlines’, for regular airlines. Who thought that one up? I see where it is coming from but still, it makes no sense.

Fortunately, I have the answers that make it clear. Broadly, there are three types of airlines, enabling me to describe them as FSAs, LCAs, NFAs. My definitions:

FSA = full-service-airline. Offering first/business/economy, travel agency bookings, meals/bookings/baggage/cancellations included, etc. As its name indicates – full service.


-LCA = low-cost-airline. (Not a low-fare-airline; see next.) An FSA but with lower operating costs (cheaper longer-hours flight-deck crew, younger/new longer-hours cabin crew, tighter cost control (twinned 3-star hotel rooms, for instance), fewer fare types, which may have first and business cabins, and which allows bookings through travel agencies etc. Usually similar to the parent airline, but a different name, and competition against parent airline allowed.)


NFA = no-frills-airline. I believe that among the many essential elements that make a successful NFA are: market freedom in terms of routes and aircraft choice; single aircraft type; where relevant, competition against parent airline allowed; fares that are extremely low when booked at least three months in advance, say US$25; one fare at one time (no wholesale rates, travel agency commissions, etc); no refunds; no service frills; single economy-class cabin; no seat selection; two toilets for 150-seat aircraft; 25-minute turnaround time; cabin crew do daytime cabin cleaning; name and flight change charged at least US$25 each; no trade shows; plenty of consumer advertising and promotion; and much more.




The Fox

Remember, I’ll be famous after I’m dead.