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shy of $400.That’s when the numbers work to fill a luxury hotel and
you get a retur n on your investment and capital.
“What is important is our commitment at Langham to New Zealand.
We host events on all the continents of the world and everyone points at
our list of hotels and says ‘we would like to go to the one in Auckland’.
We’re so proud of being here, we hope to grow our company here.” n
Cordis is Latin for “of the heart”, and the appeal of New Zealand
plays directly to the brand, suggests Manning. “Whenever we go out
and travel the world as Langham colleagues, everybody has a love
for New Zealand and our company is very proud that we have a
hotel here; it was one of the first assets we purchased. We want to be
different from the other big brands like Mar r iot and Hyatt – they all
bought luxury brands but couldn’t get the luxury business – what we
want to do, in an industry which we believe has become homogenised,
is to bring a higher level of service and style.”
Managing Director Franz Mascarenhas is staying on and says the
rebrand has given the hotel new opportunity to add unique services
not found at other major properties. “There is a marked trend of leisure
travellers who bring their kids, so we have a larger range of double
double rooms and suites with kitchenettes. We’re also launching the
Cordis Kids’ Club, where at check-in they’ll get a little kit with puzzles
and their own little spa menu”. On day one, a set of steps was found so
that one youngster could climb up to sign the guest register. “It was so
cute,” comments Franz. With standard room rates well north of $300,
there will be limited local family appeal.
For the techy guest, Cordis pioneers a free room cellphone that can
be taken around town to act as a tour guide, loaded with local attraction
details, and with a temporary unique phone number. The “Handysmart”
phone connects to wifi while in the hotel, and even outside the hotel
offers no-charge local and inter national calling, plus a comforting link to
base for overseas guests especially. “Imagine you’re twenty minutes away
from the hotel and feeling hungry – you’ll be able to order food to be
ready when you get here.” Electric bikes are also available at the hotel
entrance as part of “wow memor ies” says Franz.
Changes are r ippling through the group, which began in 1865 with
The Langham in London, r ight opposite the BBC (in fact it housed the
BBC studios at one point).The headquarters of the company’s other
brand, Eaton, has been moved to New York, under the control of the
group chair man’s daughter, and that will operate in Amer ica and Asia,
as from next year.
“Moving forward, we’re not going to have any more Langham
Places,” says Manning. “Everything will be The Langham which will be
luxury, while Cordis will be upper scale hotels serving the business and
The rebrand in Hong Kong (previously Langham Place hotel in
Mong Kok) brought a revenue increase, he says, and clearly he hopes
for the same in a growing Auckland. “In the past five years visitor
ar r ivals to New Zealand have gone from 1.6 million to 3.6 million.
That means occupancies r ise and we can invest more.”
Unfortunately more capital for the Capital is unlikely. “Wellington
presents a problem for luxur y hotels. Room rates are USD250 below
where luxury rates are in the world. If you take the high cities of
London, New York and Tokyo, then you put them with cities that are
not so high, like Kuala Lumpur or Manilla, then you get an ADR just
Deluxe refurbished guest rooms feature lighter
colours to represent “the beauty of New Zealand.”
FLOOR BY FLOOR
At year’s end builders were still working floor-by-floor
to transform the old Langham, and by early February,
says Managing Director Franz Mascarenhas “we will be a
completely brand-new hotel”.
The refurbished guest rooms are unrecognisable,
although the bathroom makeovers still retain some
heritage back to even the Sheraton days. Gone are the
heavy drapes, marble-top sideboards and blackamoor
lamps, and new silver-grey, much lighter colours and
furniture seem to enlarge the rooms.
The new colours “represent the beauty of New Zealand,”
says Franz. “Blue skies, turquoise waters and the freshness
of our landscapes all
feature in the design.”
Many of the 400-odd
staff are remaining
with the hotel, which
has won service awards
including recently the
Conde Nast Best Hotel
Invited guests and dignitaries.
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