I attended the 2017 edition of the ILTM Conference in Cannes, where I had the occasion to discover exciting developments in the luxury hotel world. Luxury hotel brands often play a fine gamble between maintaining a core brand identity through a historically iconic collection while seeking to reinterpret and translate that identity into new locations around the world. One excellent example of a global luxury hotel brand that has done this with great success is the Mandarin Oriental.

Created in 1963, the Hong Kong-based hospitality group has expanded significantly since its inception across Europe and the Middle East. Most recently, in the Middle East, the group has announced plans for a second property in Dubai. Below you will find on the subject my conversation with Michael Hobson, Chief Marketing Officer, who reveals some of the Mandarin Oriental’s upcoming projects in the pipeline for the Middle East.

How do you explain opening two hotels in the same town (Dubai) while maintaining a sense of exclusivity?

The two properties will be quite different. The downtown property, which will open in 2020, is very much a downtown city sky-rise hotel at the top of a very tall building. The property on Jumeirah Beach is far more resort-like and will cater to leisure guests, and I think just the physical attributes of both properties will differentiate them significantly. Both will be branded Mandarin Oriental, but they will be Mandarin Oriental Jumeirah Beach and Mandarin Oriental Downtown.

I think the two properties will enable them to differentiate themselves, just as we have in Hong Kong with the Mandarin in Hong Kong and the Landmark Mandarin Oriental, which are within walking distance to each other. They’ve differentiated themselves in their style and design, but the legendary service remains the same.

Are there any plans for a hotel development in Beirut?

We still have a project on our books in Beirut, but it hasn’t come through yet. It is still undergoing discretionary negotiation. Sometimes these development deals do take a little time.

Are most of your new openings in cities?

Most of our new openings are city hotels, but I think you will see some resorts coming that are yet to be announced. We are conscious of the fact that we need to grow our resort portfolio, and we want to do it in the places where these resorts are going to be very successful. Resorts can be very successful, but they can also be a nightmare when they’re very seasonal. We’ve been very successful in Bodrum because the revenues that we are able to gain during the peak season allow us to close the resort during low season, but in certain destinations, it’s not always possible to do that, and it becomes a very difficult task for the owner. Resorts have their complexity. It’s all about airlift; if you develop resorts and destinations that are relatively easy to get to, then you have more chance of success.

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Mandarin Oriental – Macau – Room

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