luxury hotels

Actuel Luxury for Dogs

Isaac Mostovicz writes that luxury hotels are catering for canines...

Luxury hotels often cater for all manner of needs, offering fitness classes, massage, relaxation and entertainment, but in one Parisian hotel the client itself is rather unique.

Actuel Dogs is the first French luxury hotel for dogs where its canine clients can go swimming, have a massage, go “doggy jogging” or simply chill out in front of a DVD. For a fee of between 26 and 35 euros, owners can leave their pooches for the day to go and do their daily business in the city, while their furry friends enjoy the leafy suburbs of Vincennes.

For Parisians, the service is rather handy considering the typically small apartments and absence of large parks in the centre of Paris. The owner of Actuel Dogs is eager to insist that the hotel isn’t a pointless, extravagant luxury, saying, “It’s not like the United States or Japan – giving the dogs manicures, dying their fur pink – that’s human madness. Our priority is to meet the dog’s needs.”

And the benefit of having dogs as residents means that unlike human hotels, they can be picky over who they allow in, evaluating the dogs before permitting them to stay, to keep the environment a relaxed one with no aggressive behaviour.

This is luxury, but with a rather practical element.

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Life Lessons Offered to Luxury Hotel Guests

Isaac Mostovicz writes that luxury hotel chain Morgans is offering its guests advice for living a better life ...

For many, a luxury brand is not just a product, but connotes a whole way of living. Starting this month, guests at all Morgans Hotels will be offered lessons on everyday living from the School of Life. Exploring philosophy, psychology, literature, the visual arts and sciences through evening conversations, along with a “Minibar for the Mind” that contains conversation starter cards and a selection of “collected thoughts”, The School of Life offers guests “an intriguing and thought-provoking alternative to the usual minibar fare”.

The idea of bettering one’s life is in line with foundations of luxury marketing. The concept of Morgans’ new partnership is simple: “luxury hotels do an exceptional job of catering to the needs of the body, and now their challenge is to address the needs of the mind.”

This new School of Life service could definitely appeal to Theta personalities, for whom buying luxury means acquiring something that makes them feel like their true selves. Aligning themselves with a luxury brand that is concerned with people’s inner selves is a way of affiliating themselves with the same ideals.

The Lambda personality may also be attracted to the hotel’s offering. If the service is dignified and genuine, it can offer the Lambda person a chance to explore their own selves with the aim of differentiating themselves from others. From either perspective, receiving personal life guidance, and being given the opportunity to ponder on life’s many questions is a luxury in itself.

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by LuxeInACity, Janus Thinking. Janus Thinking said: Janus Thinking: Life Lessons Offered to Luxury Hotel Guests http://bit.ly/eS0JPz […]

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Palace of Versailles to open luxury hotel‎

Isaac Mostovicz writes that the world renowned Palace of Versailles is set to open a 23-room luxury hotel...

It appears the historic monument that is the Versailles Palace in France is to lease an adjacent building to a luxury hotel group. A symbol of French heritage and domination, there has been much debate around the prospect of a private entity owning such a treasured piece of French history.

Is leasing to private owners however the best way to preserve and restore such historic national gems? The deficit plagued French government has long been seeking ways to benefit from state owned buildings, and the Versailles managers admit there is not enough available cash to restore the outbuilding themselves.

Mikael Hautchamp, an assistant director of the palace commented: “This deal is saving a building.”

The 23-room hotel, with views of the palace’s Orangerie garden has an unrivalled proximity to the main palace, sure to attract Lambda personality types looking for a one-of-a-kind location.

For Thetas, however, attracted to the rich history and heritage of the palace, it will be welcome news that Chateau Fontainebleau, another famous landmark of Paris, may also open a hotel in its building.

In total, France plans to consider leases and commercial use of 20 sites in the national architectural heritage list.

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Gucci versus Gucci: battle of the luxury brands

Isaac Mostovicz writes that Gucci may have a naming issue to deal with...

A luxury company must vigilantly protect its brand to ensure that it remains in control of its image. A company like Gucci certainly wouldn’t want other parties to misappropriate its trademark or the look of its products in counterfeit goods. But what happens when your company’s name is the same as someone else’s, and this person, while related to your founder, wants to set up a completely different company?

Gucci is attempting to answer just this question at the moment. Elisabetta Gucci, great-granddaughter of founder Guccio Gucci, and artistic director of an Italian interiors and accessories company, recently announced that she is putting her name on a luxury hotel that plans to open in Dubai next year, with the hope of starting a chain of hotels. The fashion house has issued a statement clarifying that it has nothing to do with Ms. Gucci’s plans, and said “”If necessary, Gucci will take any needful step to protect its rights.”

It’s an interesting conundrum. Elisabetta Gucci can say that she isn’t trying to take advantage of her famous heritage, but in my opinion, if that were the case, the hotel could have chosen a different name (though in that case we probably wouldn’t have heard about it). So there’s certainly publicity value in her name, whether or not she actively tries to dissociate herself from Gucci the company. We’ll have to see how much Elisabetta Gucci’s hotel matches the fashion house’s aesthetic, and whether the fashion house will make good on its threat if the two are similar.

Photo by Kai on Flickr.

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Luxury hotels sees an upturn after the downturn

Isaac Mostovicz writes that hotels are rapidly recovering...

There have been reports lately of promising recovery in the luxury hotel industry. USA Today and Daily Finance tell us hotels such as the Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, St Regis and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide are just some of the big names seeing a boost in their revenue streams.

The Ritz-Carlton’s occupancy levels improved 10% from last year’s on average low of 60%, while Starwood’s W Hotels are seeing a 28% gain in its first quarter from key cities like New York. Across the board, luxury hotels in the US have also sold almost 17% more rooms than the same period last year and increased their occupancies by 20%. This has translated into hotels becoming more comfortable about hiring new staff. The U.S Department of Labour has the figures:

Employment rose by 45,000 in leisure and hospitality over the month. Much of this increase occurred in accommodation and food services, which added 29,000 jobs. Food services employment has risen by 84,000 over the past 4 months, while accommodation has added 18,000 jobs over the past 3 months.

This has contributed to the month’s highest employment rate since the recession. Though this is largely due to the comeback of business and leisure travellers, Barbara DeLollis of USA Today tells us there are also a number of other factors in the works. Attractive offers for instance:

“We just paid $149 per night for the W hotel in New Orleans, which made me feel pretty good,” says Joseph Frohlinger of Tenafly, N.J.

Also, there are fewer perception worries:

“A year ago, as we were in the depths of this crisis, there was a high level of paranoia about luxury travel,” van Paasschen [CEO of Starwood W Hotels) says. “That’s clearly gone away.”

In addition to this, financial service firms are offering more Wall Street deals, and business activities not only at home but also abroad have also increased. Kathleen Taylor, Four Seasons’ chief operating officer says this ‘strengthening [in] world economies are contributing to an uptick in people’s confidence in the future.’ Simon Cooper, a top executive at Ritz-Carlton confirms this with his report that the Westchester branch in N.Y. has been ‘packed with international business travelers lately’ seeing a 33% leap in revenue in comparison to last year’s figures.

These are all positive signs that the luxury hotel industry is on its way to recovering, though the general consensus seems to be that it won’t be the same as it was before the recession. Cooper tells us:

“The open bar is a little bit less open…couple of spa treatments’ and the big fruit basket in the room for every day are probably something of the past,” he says. “The excesses of two, three years ago are less prevalent today.”

Here, we see how much smarter and money-conscious luxury consumers have gotten. As seen in my previous blogs, other sectors of the luxury industry (art, fashion, watches and internet) have also been improving, albeit in an unexpected way because of new luxury consumer’s habits. One thing that is certain though: it will take some getting used to before the luxury market will become less surprised of more unexpected happenings in the future.

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Luxury in India takes centre stage

Isaac Mostovicz writes that India's dominance in Asia's luxury market is beginning to attract major players in global luxury...

New reports suggest that India’s luxury market is growing and maturing quickly. Earlier this week Forbes reported that the luxury boutique hospitality association, Relais & Chateaux, recently launched in India.

Relais & Chateaux president Jaume Tapies said:

We currently have 40 members in Asia and I’m confident that we can reach 100 in the next three years. We started looking at India in 2007 and enrolled our first member two years ago. We plan to add five more members in the next 18 months. My big surprise in coming to India was when I saw the deep understanding there is for what we stand for.

Mr Tapies’ findings about India are not surprising. I’ve written previously about luxury real estate in India taking off, and luxury automakers fighting for dominance in the Indian market.

What Mr Tapies’ findings do mean is that more major brands in the luxury industry are taking notice. What started as a small drip of interest at the end of 2009 has turned into more of a torrent.

Mr Tapies’ quote “I saw the deep understanding there is for what we stand for” is very interesting, too. Relais & Chateaux is for the discerning luxury customer. Considering the price point for their rooms, it’s clear their primary target market are Theta personalities. Much of India’s newly-wealthy class could be considered Thetas.

Thetas are concerned with truthfulness and denounce fakes. The screening process to become a member of Relais & Chateau is a long-term assessment to determine whether the hotel is “real” or “fake”:

We have a team of nine inspectors who visit the property incognito and submit a technical report to the board which makes the final call. Typically, the process takes a year. We have to be scrupulous as 1.5 million people trust Relais & Chataeux every year. Collectively, our properties do 750,000 room nights annually at an average room rate of 345 euros.

Relais & Chateaux is catering to those in India who, now with greater incomes, are becoming hyper-aware of how they are perceived by others, especially those they believe to be part of the social class that they wish to belong.

The people who stay at these hotels know the rigorous inspection process that member hotels undergo. Because this is such public information, it adds to the allure for an Indian Theta.

When they book a reservation to stay at a Relais & Chateaux hotel, they are likely to tell their friends and colleagues. They need people to know that they are able to afford to stay at such an exclusive hotel in their home country.

As more major luxury brands take notice of India’s heightened luxury profile, it could inspire neighbouring Asian countries to take notice and make some changes.

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Japan’s new capsule hotel 9h

Isaac Mostovicz writes that Japanese company's taste for niche luxe products has not receded, even if demand for it has...

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Tired of actual hotels with hallways and room service? If so, head over to Japan and try out this luxury pod/capsule hotel room. The hotel is called “9h”, short for nine hours. As in, nine hours of sleep.

9 h (nainawasu) is a new capsule hotel that offers luxury in a minimum living space.  The 9 h capsule hotel and all amenities were designed by fumie shibata of design studio s, which she founded in 1994. With her team, she defined the elements necessary for a  ‘minimal transit space’ in big cities in japan. The product designer has been pursuing the 9h project as a creative director for 3 years.

The location of this hotel is interesting, considering the wide reports that Japan’s taste for luxury has declined over the years. The target market is clearly someone who has exclusive taste. This plays into what I wrote about recently regarding marketer and consultant Cindy Gallop’s comments about luxe needing to return to its elitist roots.

It’s hard to say whether that will be the case. In Japan all the talk is of China now having more super rich people for the first time. When the economy turns around, a hotel like 9h could really take off. Right now it’s just too early to tell.

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Fairy-tale experience at the art hotel

Isaac Mostovicz writes that artist Julian Schnabel's creation offers a luxury hotel experience with an unique twist...

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A new breed of hotels that offers guests the ultimate fantasy of living surrounded by fine art is becoming increasingly popular. Marienbad Hotel in Berlin and Atelier sul Mare in Sicily are two good examples. However, the king of art hotels must be the Gramercy Park Hotel in New York. Where else could you wake up looking at one of Damien Hirst’s infamous spin paintings, or have a night-cap in the lounge while enjoying Cy Twombly’s Bacchus painting, a homage to the ancient Greek and Roman god of wine.

The fairy-tale like interior of the hotel is the brainchild of painter and filmmaker Julian Schnabel, and the art can be found everywhere, offering visitors a unique hotel experience. This bold and distinguishing atmosphere should also give the hotel competitive advantage in a difficult market, where visitors need to be offered that extra element to motivate them spending. The idea of living in an art installation or sleeping in a museum might just be that.

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From Jail to Luxury Hotel

Isaac Mostovicz writes...

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A Boston jail (open from 1851-1990) recently reopened as a luxury hotel after a 5-year, $150 million renovation.  The former jail on Charles Street now plays host to rooms costing as much $5,500 per night and has been renamed the Liberty Hotel.

This project is not the first looking to transform cell blocks into sleeping quarters, but it might be the most luxurious.  Other projects include conversions in the UK, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, and elsewhere in the US.

As luxury products become more accessible to the mass markets, people looking for a truly unique experience have discovered that places like this offer something which they might not otherwise ever be able to see (or let’s hope so, at least).

[via AP]

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7 Star UAE hotel is announced

Isaac Mostovicz writes...

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Leading Kuwaiti-based developer Al Osaimi Group has recently appointed firms to develop a prestigious seven star luxury hotel in the United Arab Emirates. Located on the Crescent of The Palm Jumeirah, the AED 1 billion project consists of the flagship hotel as well as a five star family resort, 178 lavish residences and spas.

The project will seek to combine Indian and Moroccan architecture and design with themed landscaping and sophisticated conference and catering facilities. The Deverana Spa, a signature of upmarket Thai hotel chain Dusit International will also provide authentic Thai-inspired rejuvenation experiences for hotel guests.

Targeted for completion in 2010, the project will be managed by Dusit, with the official launch of the project scheduled for early 2008. The unveiling of another seven star project in the Gulf region challenges the benchmark-setting Burj Al Arab in Dubai, and cements the region’s reputation for pushing the boundaries of luxury hotels.

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