Aside from leading to a major shake-up of the global banking system, the economic downturn has served to highlight the major gap between the world’s top-level hotels and those catering for tourists at the bottom end of the market.
For while many would-be holidaymakers have opted to stay at home and save their pennies over the past couple of summers, the luxury hotel market seems to be going from strength-to-strength, with venues out-doing one another in order to attract big-spending guests.
Coming on the back of a host of ‘designer hotel’ openings around the world, including the Armani Hotel in the United Arab Emirates, it has now been revealed that the parent company of Louis Vuitton is set to venture into the hospitality sector.
Rather than going for mass appeal, however, LMVH is to aim at the ‘ultra-luxury’ end of the market, the Wall Street Journal has reported, with its clothing and accessories arm, as well as its Moet Hennessey brand of champagne, set to give it significant prestige among business high-flyers, celebrities and royalty.
According to the New York paper, the group’s Cheval Blanc brand will first concentrate on managing a pair of exclusive hotels in Egypt and Oman.
And, far from the usual set-up, the latter location will see the introduction of a hotel offering its guests private villas, complete with private beaches, while the former will even go so far as to do away with the traditional communal pool in favour of private ones.
Announcing the news, LVMH explained that the move into the top-end hotel business represents “a natural extension of activities in luxury hospitality with Cheval Blanc”, particularly given that the brand already works to offer up-market hospitality in the French Alps.
Meanwhile, again highlighting the extent to which the weighting of the global hospitality industry is switching from west to east, it has been announced that the famous Raffles Hotel is to be acquired by the Qatar Diem investment arm of the emirate’s sovereign wealth fund, the Times has reported.
The $847 million deal will see the investment group take a majority share in the iconic venue, in which the likes of Noel Coward and Michael Jackson have stayed, and no doubt enjoyed a Singapore Sling or two in the bar where the drink was invented.
However, flying the flag for the west in the next few years will be Trump Hotels, which has now outlined plans to open up a new New York venue, also within the ‘ultra-luxury’ end of the market.
Adding to its holdings in Chicago, Las Vegas and Waikiki, the upcoming Trump SoHo will offer 391 luxury rooms in the heart of Manhattan, though rather than checking out the Big Apple’s culinary scene, guests will be able to take advantage of an in-house three-storey Italian restaurant.