Home' Hotel Management : HM AUGUST 2016 Contents You have a major focus on restaurants and not
just hotels. Tell us about your passion for food,
how you have come up with new concepts and
your partnership with Jason Atherton and
plans for that expansion.
The restaurants really started out in the hotels and
proved so successful that we decided they should expand
outside of the hotels and that has proven to be key to our
expansion as a group. We are probably equal part F&B
and hotels, which is rather unusual. The concepts can
come from anywhere and I get inspiration from travel and
eating and also from people I meet and the chefs who I
work with. It can literally come from anywhere!
One of your key messages has always been
that 'you design a hotel and restaurants for the
neighbourhood and not for guests'. Tell us about
this and the e ort you've had to go to make this
happen around the world.
My take on this is that if the locals love what we are
doing and patronise us then our guests from overseas
will definitely also love what we are doing. So we
definitely start by looking at our neighbourhood and
the local scene and we try to do something in keeping
with that and make ourselves as local as possible. I think
our guests from overseas appreciate that. We do not do
touristy hotels. We want to have local content and local
flavour and local custom.
How important are restaurants to hotels and why
do you think many hotel restaurants fail?
It's a key part of our hotels. We make a very special
effort to ensure we have successful F&B that can stand
on their own without the hotels and that also draw the
majority of their clientele from a local crowd. We want
our restaurants to be successful on their own right first
and foremost and we consciously try to make them
independent of the hotel. I think this is rather unusual
for most hotels; their F&B options are often terrible.
In my opinion it's because often the hotel is controlling
things too tightly and trying to make the restaurant
or bar conform to the needs of the hotel and not local
guests. It really should be the other way round.
Where do you see yourself and the business in
No idea but I hope still to be passionate and to find
the work rewarding and exciting. The journey so far
has been really rewarding and fun and I really want
to continue doing this for the foreseeable future so 10
years will fly by hopefully.
What advice do you have for rising stars in the
hotel industry that might want to emulate what
you have achieved?
Start small and do things that express who you are as an
individual and that make you different from everyone
else. There are many gaps in this industry and I think
the innovation and disruption cycle has only just started
so I am excited to see what the next innovators bring to
the industry. n
HM flew to Singapore with British Airways, which flies daily
from Sydney. For bookings, visi www.ba.com
Few hoteliers in history have been able to achieve what Singapore-based founder
and CEO of Unlisted Collection, Loh Lik Peng, has been able to: combine food
and beverage and hotels meticulously well.
In fact, the only person that comes close to Loh's vision is the godfather of
boutique hotels, Ian Schrager, whose design influences have shaped the world's rapidly-
rising industry segment.
Loh's seven high quality and quirky boutique hotels set within heritage listed
buildings are standouts in Singapore, Shanghai, Sydney and London, as are his 20
restaurants, many of which are Michelin-starred. Then there is his partnership with
the hottest chef on the planet, Jason Atherton, which is the envy of many hotel
owners across Asia-Pacific.
HM sat down with Loh in Singapore to chat about his radical, cutting edge
lifestyle concepts that culminate into what he says are "an unforgettable experience
for our guests".
Peng, how do you see the hotel industry in Asia-Pacific generally at present?
I think the bright spots are in Japan, Singapore and Australia, where rates and
occupancy are holding up relatively well. The rest of the Asia Pacific region is really
not doing very well at all. Singapore will also continue to soften up this year and next
and that leaves possibly Australia as the best performer for this year and next. Japan
with its weak Yen has also been doing very well from an influx of Chinese visitors,
but that may change now that the Yen has appreciated dramatically with Brexit. We
probably won't see a sustained recovery in the region until China picks up and also the
key Western markets in Europe and the US. Given the repercussions of Brexit, that
may take a few more years.
Your only Australian hotel (so far) the Old Clare in Sydney continues
to be the toast of the city. Have you been happy with how the hotel and
restaurants are performing at present and the rave reviews they are getting?
Definitely. I would say the business there is performing about as well as I could have
expected. We are trading well and it's a really encouraging start. To say this is a big relief
is a huge understatement.
Would you look at other opportunities in the Australian market, be it in
Sydney, Melbourne or otherwise?
We are definitely on the lookout for further opportunities and I think any of the key
gateway cities to Australia would be attractive for us if the right property came along.
We prefer old heritage buildings and we like to be slightly off the beaten track and we
like difficult buildings. That's quite a difficult list of things to fulfil.
Where else would you like to expand globally, given the opportunity?
I think Tokyo would be my number one choice if given the right opportunities. For such
an exciting city, there are surprisingly few hotels that are really innovative or exciting
Sydney's Old Clare Hotel
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