Rosewood Hotels & Resorts doesn’t want to take over the world; it merely intends to create timeless vacationing experiences that just happen to occur in every corner of the globe. Currently with 20 properties in operation, and another 11 under development, the brand seems well on its way to achieving that ambitious goal. Arguably even more impressive than the Rosewood catalog, though, might be the hardware on its trophy case. On February 11, four hotels from the roster — California’s Rosewood Sand Hill, Vancouver’s Rosewood Hotel Georgia, Riviera Maya’s Rosewood Mayakoba and Jumby Bay, a Rosewood Resort in Antigua — earned Forbes Travel Guide’s most coveted honor — a Five-Star distinction. (Having another four properties grab Four-Star honors is nothing to ignore either.) We recently caught up with the man who plays as big a role in the company’s success as anyone, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts president Radha Arora, to not only congratulate him on the achievements but to also see how things were going in Rosewood’s expansion of excellence.
Mr. Arora, congratulations on the news of four Rosewood properties earning Five-Star distinctions this year. To what do you credit for such an impressive showing?
It is an honor to have received four Five-Star distinctions from Forbes Travel Guide this year. Achieving this level of excellence at four properties is, above all, a true testament to our dedicated associates who work tirelessly to deliver outstanding guest experiences. I am delighted that their passion, dedication and enthusiasm have been recognized with these awards.
What’s the toughest part about keeping all of your properties on one accord when it comes to meeting standards and surpassing savvy travelers’ expectations?
“Standards” is not a word that I personally like and it is a word that doesn’t fit with Rosewood’s ethos. Rosewood is not a company of cookie-cutter hotels. We don’t issue standards to our properties but instead offer guidelines that they are encouraged to interpret in a way that’s relevant to them and their guests. Since it was founded, Rosewood has always been a collection of one-of-a-kind properties. But the company has been built upon a foundation of “relationship hospitality” so that every property offers a refined, intuitive and engaging style of service. It is this flexibility and freedom that allows our properties to continually surprise and delight our guests. Sometimes the best way to exceed guests’ expectations is by arranging something completely unexpected.
Your hotel roster will be steadily increasing over the next few years. What’s the most exciting part about all of the expansion?
This is a very exciting time for Rosewood. Currently, the collection includes 20 one-of-a-kind luxury properties in 11 countries, with 11 new hotels under development. The company targets to have 50 hotels in operation by 2020 — with a primary focus on Europe and Asia — and we’re well on our way to meeting that goal. China is increasingly important as a luxury travel market and Rosewood Beijing, our first Chinese property, opened in October 2014. At present, there are seven Asian properties in the pipeline and a significant expansion into Europe is also under way. Rosewood London opened in 2013 to great acclaim and both Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco in Tuscany and Hôtel de Crillon in Paris are now part of the Rosewood collection. Traditionally, much of Rosewood’s presence was in North America and the Caribbean, so it’s exhilarating to watch the company expand into new markets and become a leading ultra-luxury brand on a global scale.
How has social media changed the way Rosewood interacts with its customers?
As with most companies today, social media and mobile technology are of great significance for Rosewood. While the company is dedicated to creating interesting content, user-generated content (UGC) is becoming increasingly important on social media. Recommendations from peers are becoming of greater influence on the process of booking travel. Today’s travelers become more focused on finding unique and exciting experiences and social media has become the perfect vehicle to give them bragging rights by posting images or videos. These posts help increase brand awareness organically and also reach a new audience that may not respond to traditional media. Rosewood has a modern take on luxury that’s relevant to today’s generation of “affluential explorers.” But amongst all this new technology, it’s important to remember that sometimes a small, personal touch such as a handwritten note can be more powerful than a tweet.
When you look at the rest of 2015, and peek into 2016 and 2017, what are the biggest challenges ahead for your brand?
In this exciting time of rapid expansion for the brand, our priority is ensuring that all of our new hotels maintain the same style and quality of service and accommodation for which Rosewood is renowned. But, at the same time, we are committed to maintaining our legendary properties throughout North America and the Caribbean. This combination of expansion and renovation will allow us to establish Rosewood as one of the world’s most respected hotel companies.