From renewed spending amongst Chinese language travellers to the evolution of contemporary households, Choon Wah Wong – co-head of the Center East, India, Europe and Americas for Shangri-La Group – speaks to Globetrender concerning the altering face of luxurious hospitality.
What makes Shangri-La distinctive as a luxurious resort model?
“Our founder Robert Kuok believed Asian hospitality had one thing totally different to supply the world of journey. He believed that the Asian method to hospitality – casual, heartfelt and real – was the bedrock of so many Asian cultures. Our service type, ‘hospitality from the center’, has been the cornerstone of the Shangri-La expertise and is now admired the world over.”
What new Shangri-La openings are within the pipeline?
“At the moment we function over 100 inns in over 76 locations globally. We just lately opened Shangri-La Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, marking our entry into the Kingdom and three properties in Mainland China – Shangri-La Nanning, Shangri-La Qiantan in Shanghai and Shangri-La Shougang Park in Beijing. This yr Shangri-La Phnom Penh will debut in Cambodia, our first property within the nation.
“Additionally set to open this yr is the group’s first standalone way of life and leisure precinct referred to as the Palawan at Sentosa, on Sentosa Island, situated off the coast of Singapore. The Palawan will embrace sights equivalent to HyperDrive, a gamified electrical go-karting monitor and two seaside golf equipment, with one particularly for households. In 2024, Shangri-La Melbourne will open its doorways, marking the Group’s third Shangri-La resort within the nation, alongside Shangri-La Sydney and Shangri-La the Marina, Cairns.”
In what methods is Shangri-La an progressive model?
“Shangri-La has had a pioneering spirit from the very begin. We had been the primary resort group to place kettles in each room, and the primary to put word pads and pens by the aspect of each mattress. We’re within the technique of reinventing the visitor expertise with a brand new design ethos that elevates timeless aesthetics. The 4 new inns that just lately opened in Shanghai, Beijing, Nanning and Jeddah are the primary to showcase this reimagined imaginative and prescient and visitor journey.
“Shangri-La’s new design blueprint is constructed round three core design methods which replicate our model heritage whereas enhancing the visitor expertise. Firstly, Asian sensibilities will visually categorical the model’s sturdy cultural heritage and hyperlinks to the area. Secondly, our inns might be nature impressed reflecting native, pure environments and, thirdly, our inns can have a spirit of place showcasing the historical past of every Shangri-La vacation spot.
“Every factor is utilized to the brand new inns’ design schemes to create compelling visible cues that immerses company within the Shangri-La model and the inns’ location. An important instance of that is Shangri-La Shougang Park in Beijing. Constructed on the unique architectural basis of an influence plant, the resort’s design pairs Shougang’s magnificent industrial and metal heritage with Shangri-La’s aesthetics and sustainability ideas.
“One other instance is our just lately refurbished Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong by famend inside designer, Tristan Auer. The resort’s newly renovated Grand Premier rooms, Horizon Membership rooms and Cityview suite mix trendy conveniences with Asian aesthetics and magnificence, that includes refined in-room expertise and facilities. All of the spacious rooms and suites speak in confidence to sweeping views of town, the Peak or Victoria Harbour, creating an distinctive lodging expertise with meticulous service for contemporary travellers and households. We proceed to ship and adapt to altering household constructions and journey habits.”
What is going to the reopening of worldwide journey to and from China imply for Shangri-La?
“There’s no debating China was the world’s largest outbound tourism market earlier than Covid-19. We anticipate the Chinese language journey market to bounce again rapidly, in a similar way to what number of different worldwide markets did as they emerged from the pandemic. With over 50% of our portfolio in China and with over 50 years of expertise in Asia, we’re nicely ready to cater to the Chinese language traveller.”
How is household journey altering?
“Multi-generational journey, household journey to have a good time an event, in addition to journey and energetic holidays are rising in reputation. The definition of a contemporary household continues to evolve with single parenting making up 23% of households within the UK, and a rising variety of dad and mom now a part of the LGBTQ+ neighborhood. As well as, many Millennials (Gen Y), have now develop into dad and mom to Gen Alpha and are travelling the world with their youngsters.
“To satisfy the wants of such a various viewers and the wishes for celebratory, joyous events spent as a household, Shangri-La has launched a household model referred to as ‘Buds by Shangri-La’. Buds, an immersive and curated play house, permits youngsters to study by means of play in a artistic, self-directed and experiential surroundings. That is complemented by themed Household suites and Deluxe Household rooms, which embrace household concierge companies, a tailor-made youngsters’ meal programme, and a household pantry geared up with all the pieces wanted for a hassle-free keep. The brand new ‘households solely’ seaside membership quickly to open on the Palawan, Sentosa is one other instance.”
How are Shangri-La inns adapting to the altering wants and wishes of luxurious travellers?
“Luxurious is deeply private. It’s a second in time the place we really really feel pleasure. It’s totally different for every of us and we name it ‘Shangri-La’. Whether or not it’s a private tour and five-course meal within the historical ice caves of Whistler in Canada, or a marriage in a grand ballroom at Shangri-La Paris, the non-public residence of Prince Roland Bonaparte, we act as enablers to convey these private moments of pleasure to life for our company. This dedication of enabling heartfelt moments of pleasure underpins all the pieces we do – from how we design our environments to how we ship curated programming that really feels private.”
How vital is social media to Shangri-La? How are you leveraging these platforms?
“Social media and platforms equivalent to Instagram and We Chat are nice visible mediums to showcase our inns and resorts, significantly to youthful travellers. An important instance of how we’re leveraging these platforms to showcase genuine content material is thru our social media champions.
“A lot of our inns have organized pictures, videography and social media coaching to allow colleagues to seize company’ moments of pleasure. Shangri-La Dubai went one step additional and created the Center East’s first ‘Instagrammable room’ in 2022, which options floor-to-ceiling home windows wanting onto the Burj Khalifa and downtown skyline, in addition to a Polaroid digital camera, picture frames and flower preparations.”
What do you expect for the way forward for luxurious hospitality in 2023 and past?
“The will to journey consciously will proceed. Making an affect whereas visiting a vacation spot is driving reserving selections, with travellers desirous to journey the place they will immerse within the tradition, protect pure environments and assist the native financial system.
“Throughout the Center East, Europe, India, Indian Ocean and the Americas, we now have partnered with Make-A-Want Worldwide, a charity that grants needs to youngsters with essential sicknesses. Friends staying in our inns can e-book a ‘Make A Want Come True’ package deal the place proceeds are donated to the charity.
“The celebrations marketplace for inns such as Shangri-La the Shard, London is likely one of the largest leisure segments. Our groups are nicely versed in making a visitor’s imaginative and prescient for a special day develop into a actuality, whether or not it’s for a household member’s milestone birthday, a marriage or a proposal.”