Skift Take

Can a company based in India create a thriving luxury boutique brand in Britain? Perhaps. Bird Group's Roseate aspires to be the first brand to truly pull off the trick.

Earlier this month, Roseate Hotels and Resorts said it is buying yet another luxury hotel in the United Kingdom — this time, a five-star boutique called The Dunstane Houses located in Edinburgh, Scotland. As with the three other UK properties Roseate has acquired, the brand will attempt to keep the decor and service practices localized.

India-based Bird Group owns Roseate, which it launched five years ago. With the Edinburgh deal, the company hopes to complete the circle on a portfolio of British properties located in places popular with locals and tourists alike.

“The missing piece was Edinburgh,” said Ravi Birdy, executive director of Roseate Hotels and Resorts. “We’ve been looking in the city for some time now.”

Picking up The Dunstane Houses in the UK’s second-most visited city after London was a no-brainer for Roseate, which already has properties in London, Reading, and Bath — along with three other sites in India. (On Monday, Roseate revealed it would develop a fourth Indian property, an airport hotel at Noida International Airport near Delhi.)

Scotlands’ 170-year-old Dunstane Houses, set in Edinburgh’s old-world landscape, sweetened the deal. One of Roseate’s central tenets is to emphasize the features of a hotel that capture its hometown vibe.

That’s increasingly becoming a selling point with guests, according to Birdy. In Bath, for example, the company’s hotel is made of Bath stone, and it has a traditional bar that serves local Bath gins.

In London, its hotel was built within three Georgian townhouses, with Victorian furniture and oil paintings dating from the mid-19th century — when the hotel was built — and features a traditional whisky bar.

“People want more localized experiences,” Birdy said of his latest property, which tends to draw vacationers. “You want to feel like you’re in Scotland, and not in a hotel room that could be in any city in the world. People want to create memories with their families in that specific location.”

Even so, Roseate likes to offer guests a dollop of Indian hospitality that sets it apart from most competitors. When guests arrive and leave, for instance, they’re offered a small fudge at the reception desk.

“It’s an Indian tradition that you give guests something sweet as a gesture, and we have that in common within all of our lobbies,” said Birdy.

The company is also considering adding its branded Aheli spa — Aheli means “pure” in Sanskrit — to the Edinburgh property. The Reading and London locations already feature one.

Tech Influence

The company’s owners, India’s Bhatia family, entered the hotel industry after first creating a travel technology business, according to Birdy. That background in tech is apparent in the properties, even if the bones of the buildings are more than a century old.

A case in point: Roseate retrofits guest rooms with the latest technology to account for the surging trend of working in a hybrid fashion on blended business and leisure trips, a trend Skift has dubbed The Great Merging.

“The concept of working from home has spilled over into travel, so the design has to have great work stations, good food and beverage products, and bigger spaces,” Birdy said.

For example, some of Roseate’s guests will stay for a week, working Monday through Friday at the hotel and then sightseeing with their family on the weekend, Birdy said. To lure those guests, Roseate even offers a “Work from Roseate” program in London. The program offers perks like an antique mahogany writing desk, a working lunch, and a cocktail at the end of the work day, for about $102, or £85, per day.

In the coming months, Roseate will be working on rebranding at The Dunstane Houses — the name will of course change to Roseate Edinburgh. But the hotel’s bar, packed with plenty of Scottish whisky, will likely stay the same.

Service will also be tailored to the Roseate brand across both the UK and India-based properties.

“Across all of our properties, when you arrive at any one of our hotels, it’s not just a checking in experience, it is more like a private members club,” Birdy said.

With the Edinburgh purchase, the company may have come “full circle” in the regions its executives wanted to cover in the UK. But that doesn’t mean the circle can’t expand. The company is open to more opportunities in both the UK and India, Birdy said.

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Tags: boutique hotels, europe, european travel, future of lodging, hotel design, hotel development, luxury, roseate hotels and resorts

Photo credit: An exterior shot of The Dunstane Houses in Edinburgh, Scotland, the new acquisition of Roseate Hotels and Resorts. Source: Bird Group.

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