Mandarin Oriental seeks to be third luxury brand

7 December 2000

With its recent acquisition of Rafael Hotels and its expansion into markets outside Asia, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group now has as many hotels outside the region as it does within Asia/Pacific.

It now has 10 hotels in the region, seven in the US and Caribbean, and four in Europe.

Group sales and marketing director Michael Hobson said this shift in portfolio marked a dramatic change for the group and is in line with its quest to become a global luxury hotel brand.

"We believe there is a duopoly in that area now and we think we can be that third global player."

Hobson however said the move did not mean Mandarin Oriental, whose home base is in Hong Kong and is better known for its Asian properties, would be forsaking its Asian roots. "This gives us the opportunity to bring the Asian touch in hospitality to the world. The Asian culture is a strong part of Mandarin Oriental and it makes enormous sense for us to bring this Asian art of hospitality to our customers globally."

Hobson added that it also made sense for Mandarin Oriental to expand beyond Asia. "Apart from North Asia, we have reached the top in Asia. But as Asia grows, why couldn't we have two Mandarin Oriental hotels? There is an opportunity to do more with our brand in Asia."

Key gaps remain. In North Asia, Mandarin Oriental is eyeing Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing and Shanghai. In the US, Los Angeles and Chicago are the obvious gaps as are Paris and Frankfurt in Europe. China is a top priority, said Hobson. "Its potential as an outbound travel destination is immense and there is no better advertising than a flagship in key destinations."

The integration of Rafael into the Mandarin Oriental fold has taken the better part of six months, said Hobson. "Some of the properties, we had to take time to explain to the owners the Mandarin Oriental brand before we could rebrand."

Most Rafael hotels have been rebranded except for The Mark in New York, partly because it is such as well-known name in itself and partly because a Mandarin Oriental New York is opening in 2001; Elbow Beach, Bermuda; Turnberry Isle Resort & Club, Florida; and Hotel Schloss Fuschl, Salzburg.

Hotel Majapahit Surabaya remains without the Mandarin Oriental brand due to its place in history - it was the place where the first Indonesian flag was flown after independence.

The group has grown from 5,800 rooms to 7,000 rooms with the acquisition, said Hobson.

"The ultimate objective is to bring everything under the Mandarin Oriental brand, with the owners' agreement," said Hobson.

Asked about the Excelsior Hong Kong, Hobson said, "That is the only one in the portfolio and it's part of our history. We have no plans to expand on that first class, four-star hotel brand."

Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group is working on the next phase of its website development that will enable its "inventory to be fully bookable instantly," said group sales and marketing director, Michael Hobson.

Currently, it works with Travelweb as a partner and its rooms are bookable by e-mail. "But to properly display rates and availability, we need to bring that function online or work with other players to make it fully functional. That need is particularly acute and critical in the US market," said Hobson.

Welcome to PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay, Singapore

Eco-friendly practices and innovations, thoughtfully integrated at PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay, Singapore, provide sustainable travel experiences for everyone.

Read Now

Up, Up and Sail Away Into Opportunities
July - September 2022 eBook

As ports of calls resume in Southeast Asia, it’s time for travel agents to take advantage of the sea of opportunities in cruising and grow their business.

Read Now

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI