Skift Take

An ambitious expansion strategy won't stop Rosewood from tailoring each of its 21 planned properties to the cities they're in. CEO Sonia Cheng says localization is a critical differentiator for Rosewood. Cheng talked about bringing a sense of place to each of the Rosewood properties.

With 21 properties in its development pipeline, Rosewood Hotel Group maintains it will bring a “sense of place” and a “bespoke sensibility” to each hotel, CEO Sonia Cheng said at Skift Forum Asia in Singapore on Monday.

The key to maintaining these standards is managing the pipeline to a few hotel openings a year. This gives the company time to ensure each hotel accurately reflects the city it is in and brings that city into the property. Rosewood had 19 hotels when it was acquired in 2011. It now has 27.

The brand, founded in 1979 in Dallas, was an American brand when New World acquired it, but Cheng has made it her focus to make the company more global. Sense of place is vital to this ambition, Cheng said, to make each hotel a part of each city.

This latter point is a differentiator for Rosewood, Cheng added. “A sense of place,” is not limited to hanging local artwork on the wall, but must incorporate the location into every aspect of the building and service. By way of example, the Rosewood Hong Kong showcases the city’s harbor in 80 percent of its rooms, because “the harbor is everything in Hong Kong.” This ethos extends to each hotel’s uniforms, which are created in collaboration with local designers. “Sense of place is part of our DNA,” Cheng said.

Also critical to this vision is that each hotel must be not just a facility for travelers but a gathering place for locals, Cheng stressed. Each Rosewood hotel, in the years after its opening, has become a destination for locals. Cheng pointed to the Rosewood Hong Kong resonating with locals who had grown up with the New World Centre that once occupied the Kowloon site.

Cheng did not identify a launch date for Rosewood’s Khos brand. The premise behind Khos is to bring a sense of community to hotels, recognizing that travelers now often blend work and leisure travel and want what Cheng called a “lifestyle” hotel.”

Rosewood remains committed to its two other brands: Pentahotels and New World Hotels. Pentahotels will continue to cater to budget-conscious business travelers, while New World Hotels will build on its name recognition in China and Southeast Asia and remain a regional brand, Cheng said.

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Tags: rosewood, sfa2019, skift forum asia

Photo credit: Rosewood Hotel Group CEO Sonia Cheng (left) speaking with Skift Asia Editor Raini Hamdi at Skift Forum Asia on May 27, 2019. Cheng Richard Lai / Skift

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