We're also prioritizing wellness as one of our areas to strengthen and this strategy was in place before COVID
Kristina Snaith-Lense oversees operations as General Manager at Hong Kong's renowned luxury property - The Upper House and Pacific Place Apartments.
Kristina began her career with Swire Hotels as Assistant Director of Guest Experience in 2012 and was promoted to Director of Guest Experience in 2014. Passionate and dedicated to delivering exceptional service to discerning guests, Kristina successfully led the Guest Experience team with tremendous success.
She was appointed as Hotel Manager at The Middle House to spearhead the pre-opening operation in 2017. Kristina returned to Hong Kong in 2019 to take up the position that she now serves overseeing The Upper House and Pacific Place Apartments.
Prior to joining Swire Hotels, she held various positions with The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong. Kristina graduated from University of Bristol and Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne and is fluent in English, Spanish and Italian.
How did you get into the hotel business? What has changed since the first day you joined the industry until now?
I attribute my love of hotels to my late grandfather who fostered a deep love of service culture in me. I started in the industry at the age of 16 doing summer hotel internships & part time catering stints and it's been true love ever since! I studied at Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne where my passion for hotels continued to grow.
I have been privileged enough to have worked with some of the best brands in the world including Mandarin Oriental, Ritz Carlton and Grand Hyatt. None have felt like home as much as Swire Hotels where I have now been for the past 10 years.
The thing that is so special about hotel operations and continues to be what I love the most, is that every day is different and brings the unexpected. There is the adrenaline that goes with putting on a show and just a touch of drama that is associated in responding to ad hoc situations.
What has changed the most for me is the guest / customer perception of added value. Bottles of wine and fruit bowls no longer create an impact; it is however the experience and the emotional engagement they have with you which creates a long lasting impression. The more personalised and highly curated they are, the greater the impact.
Customers look for memorable 'experiences' How do you create that?
We hope to help them create a beautiful memory and a story to tell of their stay. We are a relatively small property our House team is really focused on delivering that truly bespoke experience to each of our guests. We also want them to fall in love with the side of HK that interests them.
What does The Upper House clientele look like? Who are they and what do they look for when traveling?
Every guest coming to us is different and we provide them each with a totally bespoke experience. During normal times when international travel is accessible, our business to leisure ratio is approximately 50/50. In the last year, our business has mainly focused on staycations - local guests who come here to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, or to celebrate special occasions, which makes looking after them even more fun for us.
Hong Kong is a competitive market. How do you stay competitive? What kind of new innovative elements are you bringing to the hotel?
The Upper House is a smaller scale luxury hotel known for our highly personalized guest experience and intimate spaces designed by André Fu. Our team continues to curate authentic, unscripted, and unforgettable experiences for our guests and deliver top-notch services during their stay. This is what sets us apart.
We also continue to rejuvenate our offerings to present different experiences to our guests. We recently launched our new private residence on Level 48 - the André Fu Suite. Designed in homage to the enduring relationship between the renowned designer and our House, the André Fu Suite is his only namesake suite in the world. Enhancing André's original design intention to create a sophisticated and modern residence, the one-bedroom suite is a secluded space for guests to relax or entertain, adorned by a calming palette of mineral blue, dusty mink and pale ivory.
Our new Mediterranean dining concept, Salisterra, will open in mid-April. Helmed by UK-based Chef Jun Tanaka, Salisterra showcases fresh, vibrant flavours inspired by the coastal cuisines of France and Italy where good food and wine are about bringing people together. Under the design direction of Hong Kong architect, André Fu, Level 49 is transformed by the striking geometry of the Hong Kong skyline juxtaposing with bold Mediterranean colours.
We also work with different partners to enrich our guest experience. For example, we have been working alongside homegrown brands such as Matchali, Cookie Department and Teakha to introduce interesting food trends to our guests.
We're also prioritizing wellness as one of our areas to strengthen and this strategy was in place before COVID. We are thrilled to have recently launched our fitness program by Family Form, as well as continue working with Kita Yoga, The Gym, and other homegrown brands to offer a diverse wellness program to our guests.
What is the biggest challenge you have seen in the luxury market? How will you overcome it?
The biggest challenge now is the restriction on international travel. We have been focusing on local business and continue to create new activations that can attract repeat visits from local guests. Our local clientele have always been an extremely important segment to our business. We are grateful for the level of support from our regulars we have received over the last months as the foundation of our guest mix. If anything, COVID-19 has reinforced the importance of those relationships with old and new friends of our House.