Global Traveler: What are Conrad’s expansion plans for North America and the rest of the world?
Richard Blamey: Conrad Hotels & Resorts is a growing contemporary luxury brand with award-winning hotels and resorts across the globe. Conrad will substantially increase its portfolio by 2010, and the expansion will span major U.S. cities as well as gateway business and exotic resort destinations. Conrad currently has an exciting pipeline of luxury hotels and resorts globally and in North America, a number of which we expect to announce in the coming months.
Conrad has also announced plans for seven hotels and resorts, including the Conrad Bimini Resort & Casino in the Bahamas. This is a 250-room, 160-residence casino and spa resort on the island of Bimini scheduled for completion in 2010.
At the end of this year, Conrad will launch the much-anticipated Conrad Shanghai as we expand the brand’s luxury portfolio in China — Conrad recently announced the signing of the stylish Conrad Beijing (2010 opening). The Conrad Shanghai is located within the vibrant Xintiandi district, an urban revitalization project which includes stylish boutiques, upmarket restaurants and the city’s finest clubs.
Other openings include the Conrad Koh Samui in Thailand (2009), the Conrad Abu Dhabi (2009), the Conrad Dubai (2010) and the Conrad in the Portuguese Algarve (2010). Additionally, the new Conrad Maldives Rangali Island (formerly the Hilton Maldives Resort & Spa) officially debuted on Dec. 18, 2007, following a $45-million refurbishment in 2005 and a further $2-million update in 2007.
GT: Please elaborate on Conrad’s mantra, “The Luxury of Being Yourself.”
RB: Conrad Hotels & Resorts has earned a reputation for providing guests with highly individual experiences in a contemporary luxury environment. “The Luxury of Being Yourself” is a celebration of individuality which occurs on a number of levels.
First, Conrad infuses individuality into each of its new developments by choosing growth opportunities that are distinct and reflect the character of each destination. We want each Conrad hotel and resort to be unique, enabling our guests to indulge in the wonder of the culture. Staying at a Conrad should be an experience.
Second, Conrad genuinely celebrates the distinctiveness of every guest and aims to meet his or her lifestyle and tastes. Extensive research has revealed that for many guests, the most important need is finding a place where they can truly be themselves. At the Conrad Bangkok, for example, we have a fleet of Mercedes limos for the use of guests, but we also have a number of scooters, which is a totally different experience and, in the notorious Bangkok traffic, can save you a great deal of time. We also recently launched one of the world’s most extensive pillow menus to help our guests enjoy the perfect sleep experience. With more than 75 varieties of pillows to choose from across the globe, Conrad caters to the most personal of pillow preferences.
On a third level, we spend time training and empowering our staff to be individuals and give them every opportunity to excel. They can then make the best decisions for themselves and for our guests. At Conrad, the people are at the heart of the brand.
GT: Tell us about food and beverage enhancements.
RB: Conrad Hotels & Resorts caters to a clientele of connoisseurs, so we ensure we deliver food that is simple but of the best quality, innovative, and uses local and seasonal produce where possible. Our guests expect an experience, an infusion of the local culture. The Conrad Tokyo’s avantgarde Chinese restaurant, China Blue, recently earned one Michelin star, a testament to its excellent cuisine. At Mount Juliet Conrad in Ireland, the chef utilizes organic, home-grown produce from the resort’s herb garden. Conrad has also developed a bespoke cocktail menu, specific to each hotel, called the Conradtini. These one-of-a-kind menus enable guests to create their own unique cocktails based on a list of liquors, juices, mixtures and garnishes available at the hotel’s bar. They can even choose the glass.
On National Cheese Lover’s Day, Azamara announced a brand-new land program offering travelers the opportunity to experience a cheese-making workshop on Mount Rigi in the Swiss Alps.
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