Robert Warman, CEO of Langham Hospitality Group, talks to Elite Traveler about the group’s expansion, which includes its first Middle Eastern property in Dubai’s Palm Jumeira, due to open in 2015.
Elite Traveler: Thank you for sitting down with us and congratulations on your new role. Also congratulations on the new property in Dubai.
Robert Warman: Thank you. Yes, it’s a very exciting time for us right now. And we have signed for our first Middle Eastern property. This is a critical project and is providing the opportunity to set foot in the local market as well as around the world. We are also doing a major push into resorts properties under the Langham name to grow the brand even further. The timing is right as Langham has already mastered being a luxury city hotel.
ET: Where are you looking to grow with resorts?
RW: Right now, we are primarily focused on Asia, including Bali and Phuket. Middle Eastern territory is a priority as well, and we will eventually put efforts into North America resorts expansion.
ET: What will you bring to Langham Hotels from your previous experiences at the Ritz-Carlton and Capella.
RW: I think multiple pieces of my experience and background will come into play in my role. My background with The Ritz-Carlton, where I was involved in the expansion and growth before we became a recognized luxury brand, is and will continue to be a major benefit.
We are working hard to continue to deliver our promises to our guests on all levels so they always recognize that they are in a Langham Hotel. Like the core values of The Ritz-Carlton and Capella, we make sure we are providing a conducive place for our staff to work. I cannot express the importance of this enough. It all starts with your team, which will help ensure a higher level of customer satisfaction and ultimately drive to higher profits.
In addition to that, I worked closely with the chairman at The Ritz-Carlton, where I was able to help strategically further grow the brand in Asia. Getting a foothold in Asia and other previous experiences of mine will help Langham Hospitality Group continue to be a quality brand and further improve with each move we make.
ET: So what is your plan? What kind of moves should we expect?
RW: My mandate is to continue growing Langham Hotels and be recognized as one of the premiere names in the luxury segment and leading Hotel groups in the world. As mentioned, we will move into resort destinations and continue to fill in the city destinations around the world. We have one hotel in Jakarta that is under construction and will open in 2017; other current projects are in San Francisco and Paris.
We will continue growing Langham’s market position where we are and look to re-brand Eaton as a trendy lifestyle brand that captures a different segment of today’s traveling public. We are also in the process of creating another brand mainly focused on Chinese travellers for mainland China, with the infrastructure to support this.
ET: What will Langham bring to the ultra-high-net-worth audience?
RW: I think they expect familiarity and they want to feel comfortable with their choice. People don’t want surprises today. It is our job to tailor and accomplish what they want and prefer. We will do whatever it takes to make their lives easier while staying with us; it is our responsibility to make sure they feel good and taken care off.
We will continue to make grand changes and additions as well. We are adding the Sterling Suite to our London property, which will be approximately 455 square metres, making it the biggest suite in the city. We will remain true to our beginnings, but also be sure to make quality updates.
ET: Let’s talk a little more about the Dubai property.
RW: It is located on the outer crescent of Palm Jumeirah, situated on a beach. It is a 323-room resort. We are well positioned, with multiple food and beverage outlets as well as a 24-hour arrival and departure lounge for our guests. The lounge will carry the same Langham distinct feeling, catering to our guests who have off peak flights to catch and need a comfortable place to relax and do what they need to do in the meantime.
ET: Where do you see Langham in five or ten years?
RW: In five years, we see our three Langham brands with 100 hotels and resorts around the world. The Hospitality Group will have up to 500 hotels in the next ten years. Of our brands, The Langham will always be the smallest, but we will make sure we continue to meet the standard criteria and pieces of requirement at the beginning, as this is our commitment to the quality of the product and service level. That is why we are very selective where we go.
ET: With such an aggressive and positive outlook on the future, you must have an excellent team.
RW: We are blessed with great people and will continue to add more talent throughout our properties for us to perform at the same level of the other luxury hotel groups in all categories. A good team means everything, and will be the reason for our continued and future success.
ET: Robert, thank you so much for your time. We look forward to seeing Langham’s growth and future success for the Langham Hospitality Group worldwide. Again, congratulations on Dubai, and welcome to Hong Kong!