HotelsA diverse global portfolio is linked by experiences that capture the imagination.

YTL Hotels: The story behind the unique stories

The Majestic Hotel, Malacca.
The Majestic Hotel, Malacca.

YTL Hotels, the hospitality arm of Malaysian conglomerates, YTL Corporation Berhad, is involved in both ownership and management of properties and operations, ranging from hotels to luxury trains to spa villages in diverse locations in South-east Asia, Japan, China, Europe, and the UK.

Its portfolio of heritage hotels contains some of the world’s finest and includes properties like The Majestic Malacca, Threadneedles in London and the The Gainsborough Bath Spa in the UK.

And it’s not just hotels in the mix. YTL jointly owns the Eastern & Oriental Express, the Asian cousin of the Venice Simplon Orient Express.

Luke Hurford, senior vice president, strategy, YTL Hotels, tells Travel Weekly Asia that the success of managing a diverse portfolio lies in the company’s ability to deliver an authentic experience for guests – be that at a beach resort, a ski village in Japan or the former home of British aristocrats on an island in the River Thames.

Monkey Island Estate, UK.
Monkey Island Estate, UK.

What attracted YTL to heritage hotels?

Customers want authenticity. Travellers seek for experiences and journeys that can capture their imagination.

Leisure and business travellers like to stay in hotels that excite them and can remain in their memories. At YTL Hotels we believe we are uniquely positioned to be custodians of these stories through the conservation of architectural masterpieces.

We embrace this heritage and try to develop it further, so it stays as an integral part of the DNA of the experience and the destination

What makes the ones in our portfolio special is precisely the unique stories they can tell through architecture and the curated experiences around it.

Hotels such as The Majestic Malacca – a restored 1920s Straits Settlement mansion complete with its original porcelain tile flooring and teakwood fittings that also holds a restaurant offering Kristang dishes; The Majestic Hotel KL – its colonial structure was built in 1932; Threadneedles – a former Victorian bank in the heart of London; Monkey Island Estate in Bray-on-Thames – with an aristocratic history dating back to 1066 and accessible only by a footbridge or boat - are some examples of our focus on extraordinary experiences that are authentic to the destination.

We don’t feel we are ever setting a compromise; we feel we are enhancing and extending the life of these historical sites for travellers to enjoy and create memories for a lifetime just as expressed in our motto Treasured Places, Treasured Moments.

The Orchid Conservatory at The Majestic Kuala Lumpur
The Orchid Conservatory at The Majestic Kuala Lumpur

YTL has a diverse portfolio, in terms of destination, and property type (luxury resort, ski village and iconic hotels). What drives YTL’s acquisition strategy when building the portfolio. Is it purely ROI or do other factors prevail?

YTL Hotels is always interested in good investments and entering new segments that can add value to our portfolio. We get involved in projects when we feel we can add greater value and bring out our own unique expertise to the property

I think our track record shows that we can work in a variety of locations, from balmy beach resorts and highland getaways to Japan’s most popular ski destination as well as city hotels, including KL, Sydney, London, and The Hague, and always enhance the experience.

Threadneedles Hotel, London.
Threadneedles Hotel, London.

For travel agents, what should be the big selling points for YTL’s heritage hotels?

Travel agents have a unique role with their customers because they need to find them a property which is specific and tailored to their needs and a team who can deliver each experience with passion.

We communicate continuously with our partners to provide this level of service. One of YTL Hotels’ key traits that sets us apart from other global hotel brands is our focus on the individuality and uniqueness of each property.

Of course, we have our brand pillars that run through each hotel, and recognised offerings such as Spa Village. However, from Pangkor Laut Resort in Malaysia to The Gainsborough Bath Spa and Niseko Village in Japan, each of the jewels in our crown serve a different purpose and are encouraged to make their own mark and create their own story.

The crafted experiences such as Chef’s Kitchen, Private Cruises, Nature Walks and Conservation Programmes, cater to every type of guest, demonstrate each resort’s expertise in its location and culture.

Our guests really appreciate this when it comes to creating their dream trip, because they know that each hotel features its own bespoke offering, rather than replicating the same experience in every destination.

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