What makes the Rosewood Hotel Group what it is today? Is it the sheer amount of investment put into properties by the group? Is it the people behind it? I have had the opportunity to speak with Symon Bridle, Rosewood COO. It seems that one of the keys to Rosewood’s success after listening to Symon is the concept of being ‘selective’, and it is that selectiveness that has dictated their success.
Rosewood Hotel Groups is very careful about choice of words. For example, rather than referring to hotel uniforms as … well, ‘uniforms’, they prefer to refer to it as ‘wardrobe' and ‘Employees’ are not just ‘employees’ or ‘staff’ – they are associates.
Rosewood Hotels Group has achieved great popularity in Greater China. The group has established different brands across China. ‘Rosewood’ in Beijing, ‘New World’ in Shanghai and Beijing.
“I think you have to be selective as to where you put in projects. I think there is still an appetite for our kind of brands in primary cities. Some brands might spread their wings into secondary cities, but that might be a problem in terms of trying to achieve the rates that you want to achieve. Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou can sustain strong ADR (Average Daily Rate), but if you put a luxury brand in Wuhan, that market just won’t carry the rate”.
“The secret of building hotels in China? Be selective about where you want your hotels to be. You have to look in primary areas – not secondary
Since the Rosewood Hotel Group has its own hotels and also manages hotels, being an ultra luxury brand means more than just having spectacular buildings. It also means flawless service. That will also add on your investment. There is no cutting corners in building a Rosewood Hotel.”
Bridle also stressed the importance of alignment:
“If you are not aligned, the vision for different stakeholders is different. I think it’s quite different when you put an ultra-luxury brand in. It does cost more money”
When asked specifically about how to manage an ‘ultra-luxury’ property in China, Bridle suggest that “… You need to select your partner wisely, because your partners represent you."
"We have a lot of brand standards that we have to follow. It is very important for base-line consistency. We use certain types of China, we have a specific brand relationship with Nespresso for our coffee machines etc”
Same goes for hiring associates.
“You have to be selective about who you want to be working with, because not everyone is suitable for that kind of environment. We are the antithesis of big red and gold chandeliers. We have a more residential feel. In China it used to be formal luxury, but now it’s engaging in a more informal kind of luxury. That means that you have to look for different kind of individual with a different skill set. It takes a lot of training to help our associates to loosen up”.
Right now in China there are over 600 associates. Bridle added that people that have successfully been taken on as associates are eager to learn with positive attitudes.
So it seems that be it location, partners, associates or even the standard vocabulary used within the organization, ‘selectiveness’ is key to opening and running a successful luxury or ultra-luxury brand.