One of the most talked about brands in the hotel world today is Nobu Hotels, and with its presence in Asia of ‘Nobu City of Dreams’ in Manila, Philippines, feels the need to talk to Trevor Horwell, the CEO of Nobu Hospitality, to learn more about what’s happening in the company.

Familiar to the luxury sector, Trevor Horwell previously made his name as the CEO of COMO investment and COMO hotels, and through a distinguished career with Global Hyatt.

Here’s our conversation with Trevor Horwell, CEO of Nobu Hospitality

How are you approaching expansion for Nobu Hotels?

2018 is an exciting time for Nobu Hotels. We’re on track to operate 20 hotels globally by 2020, continuing our solid world-wide growth. Joining the portfolio later this year and early next year will be Nobu Hotel Riyadh, Nobu Hotel Los Cabos, Nobu Hotel Chicago, and Nobu Hotel Barcelona, taking us to 16 hotels across four continents.

In 2009, the shareholders (Nobu Matsuhisa, Robert De Niro, and Meir Teper) approached me and Struan McKenzie to lead the strategic focus in growing Nobu Hotels. Our background includes developing the brand for COMO Hotels and Global Hyatt, so at Nobu Hotels, we cover all aspects of the bespoke hotel business and hospitality – spanning development, operations, marketing, and financials on a global scale.

As we expand we are committed to growing with the right partners. We are a management company, and we’re a brand, so it’s important to us that we work with partners who will complement and adapt to the Nobu ethos and echo what we stand for in a positive way. For example, with Nobu Hotel Barcelona, we partnered with The Selenta Group due to their experience in luxury hospitality; the hotel will remain part of The Selenta Group but come under a long-term management contract with Nobu Hotels. Additionally, as part of our model we are committed to making sure each and every hotel has its own identity, sense of locality, and feels like the place it’s in, while at the same time we are uniform in things like our adherence to a Japanese sense of design with detail and minimalism. We deliver an unpretentious take on luxury and always offer incredible service – but we want each property to have its own distinctive identity.

Who do you define as your competitors?

Rather, I’ll tell you what defines us against our competitors. From the conception of the first restaurant, the brand was about creating memorable experiences around food. We believe that many hotels in the world have incredible rooms, lobbies, etc. but they don’t have top-quality food and beverage offerings. Nobu Hotels means service and exquisite design, but incredible dining is the foundation.

What are the reasons that developers might choose the Nobu brand over others?

Developers choose to work with Nobu Hotels because of the global reputation we have built around excellence. Our restaurants and hotels are unique – built on a platform of vibrant hospitality that rests firmly on a foundation of high-end dining, we attract a notable clientele of tastemakers, influencers, and style setters to all of our locations.

What attributes make Nobu different?

Nobu Matsuhisa created something entirely unique, and then it evolved. He didn’t want to grow the company at first, but Robert De Niro convinced him to – and it was a huge success. Nobu Hotels is far more than just any other luxury product on the market; we continuously deliver memorable, engaging experiences. We want to do more than just offer a place to stay – we believe in helping guests create incredible memories.

Additionally, and as part of this, we are committed to each location we live in. Each of our hotels mirrors the personality of that given location – from David Rockwell’s beach-house inspired rooms in Miami to the street art feel of London’s Shoreditch Hotel – every property reflects the local vibe and personality.

What’s your expansion plan for Asia, and why did you choose Manila as your entry point to the Asian market?

We had an existing relationship with the partners involved, and we really believed in their vision for the City of Dreams. This was our second Nobu Hotel, and the first in Asia, and so it was important we felt comfortable working with Melco Crown Entertainment – they’re great visionaries. We wanted to provide the ultimate playground in the Philippines, for locals, Asian, and international visitors, through innovative, world-class hospitality – a belief and passion that lies at the heart of both Nobu Hospitality and Melco Crown Entertainment.

Named one of luxury's 25 Most Innovative Brands by Robb Report, Nobu Hospitality is ranked among an elite selection of global luxury brands. The first Nobu Hotel opened in 2013 as a boutique hotel within Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas. Nobu Hotel City of Dreams Manila opened in 2014, Nobu Hotel Miami Beach in 2016, and the Nobu Ryokan Malibu, Nobu Hotel Shoreditch London, Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay, and Nobu Hotel Epiphany Palo Alto opened in 2017. Other Nobu Hotels are in development for Barcelona, Marbella, Riyadh, Los Cabos, Chicago, Toronto, São Paulo, and Atlanta. Nobu is strategically focused on further expanding its global portfolio of hotels through a solid development pipeline.