[photopress:HorstSchulze.jpg,full,alignright]Kwee Liong Tek, Chairman of Kwee Inc in Singapore, and Horst Schulze, Chairman of West Paces Hotel Group, have announced the formation of a 50:50 joint venture to be known as West Paces Hotel Group Asia. Sounds pretty unromantic but wait.
This hotel management company will introduce the new Capella Hotels and Resorts and Solis Hotels and Resorts brands in gateway cities and resort destinations in the region. Initial target areas for development include China, for China continues to realize exponential growth in visitor arrivals, with annual increases in excess of 10 percent.
The group aims to have a portfolio of up to 30 resorts and hotels globally in the next five years, with a significant number of these located within Asia.
So how exclusive are these hotels going to be? Very. Bring money and your credit cards.
[photopress:cezarritz.jpg,full,alignleft]The reason dates back to 1898 and César Ritz (seen here with his trade-mark moustache) and the connection is clear.
Horst Schulze, seen at the top, was former president and COO of the Ritz-Carlton and has brought with him several former Ritz-Carlton executives to create and operate branded hotels. They were all trained in the Ritz tradition where the customer is treated like royalty — only better.
Horst Schulze said, ‘We will offer the kind of personalized service and experience that has been lost in today’s travel environment.’ Which sounds like a piece of flackery except that the idea of such service stretches way back.
It starts with Swiss hotelier César Ritz, ‘king of hoteliers and hotelier to kings.’ He defined luxury accommodation in Europe with his management of The Ritz in Paris (opened in 1898 with Auguste Escoffier, seen here, as the chef) [photopress:escoffier.jpg,full,alignright]and, in 1908, the Ritz in London. Again, Escoffier was the initial chef. César Ritz died in 1918 and his wife Marie, a formidable lady by contemporary accounts, continued the tradition of opening hotels in his name.
(Odd and slightly macabre note. In 1979, the Ritz family sold the hotel to Egyptian businessman Mohamed Al-Fayed who refurbished it and in 1988 added the Ritz-Escoffier School of French Gastronomy. The hotel was where the owner’s son, Dodi Al-Fayed and his companion, Diana, Princess of Wales, had visited when employee Henri Paul drove them from the hotel and crashed in the nearby Pont de l’Alma road tunnel.)
In the 1920s Albert Keller bought and franchised the name in the United States.
[photopress:ritzcarltonboston.jpg,full,alignright] The original Ritz-Carlton hotel was built in Boston, Massachusetts and opened on May 19, 1927 with a room rate of $15. It was the first to offer private baths in guest rooms, white tie and apron uniforms for the waiting staff, black tie for the Maitre d’ and morning suits for all other staff. There were extensive fresh flowers throughout the hotel’s common areas. From the beginning the staff was empowered to do almost anything to keep the guests happy.
Came the Depression of 1929 and they all collapsed except for the one in Boston. Boston thought the Depression vulgar and refused to recognize it.
In 1983, the original hotel and the brand were sold to The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, which began expansion of the brand to other locations. Between 1995 and 1998 Marriot bought in up to the point of owning 98 percent.
Horst Schulze was there to see all of the growth of the Ritz-Cartlon brand with its built-in standard that the guest is always right. He left in 2001.
Now he is bringing that tradition and that expertise to a new chain of hotels which will have several properties in China. Should be amazing.
Source: Hotels Magazine and research.
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