Langham Place and Langham Hotels: A Brand New Road Where East Meets West
Here is a trend, with a brand worth watching: Langham Hotels International, an older, established international hotel brand is in process of creating and operationalizing a newer, edgier dimension with Langham Place.
Above is their new Langham Place in Pazhou, an island near Guangzhou -- near Macau and Hong Kong on the South China Sea. It will open in 2013, as the only hotel connected to the Guangzhou International Convention and Exhibition Center, site of the Canton Import and Export Fair and Asia's largest Exhibition space. The 488-room property will feature interiors from world-renowned interior design company, Yabu Pushelberg, who has been responsible many projects in luxury retail and hospitality brands within the last decade. There will be at least nine Langham Places opening in the coming few years.
Recently, I interviewed Bob Van de Oord, Senior Vice President of Sales And Marketing for Langham Hotels International, about the process of expanding a brand into the 21st century, a particularly demanding task, as the Langham's root systems were firmly planted in Victorian London in 1865.
Luxist: Can you explain what the Langham Place brand is, in contrast to Langham Hotels and Resorts?
While both Langham Place and The Langham share the same DNA, Langham Place offers what we call stimulating hospitality and a paradigm shifter. Langham Place gives guests a sense of modern art that intrigues, a hub for entertainment, and generally being part of the community in which it operates. This all makes Langham Place an edgier brand which is about living the 21st century through design, technology and attitude, making it a perfect fit for luxury properties which are newly built. The service while still of the highest order is also presented differently – the approach matches the guest profile which tends to be slightly younger (at heart) who also prefer a more informal approach while still demanding the best. Our latest launch, the Langham Place Beijing Capital Airport, was in late August of this year. ( see images of exterior and interior lobby below)
Luxist: The Langham International is a mature, elegant brand, especially in London. You have now expanded to parts of the Far East, including a new hotel at Xintiandi, a major shopping and retail district in Shanghai ( see below).
Yet, in addition to those in the Far East, there are also Langhams in the United States: one in Boston, and the other in Pasadena. How well is the Langham doing in the US? Are there any plans to have a Langham Place in the US as well?
The Langham is doing well in both Boston and Pasadena. Our Boston hotel is historic in its own right. It is a National Historic landmark as it was the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. And of course The Langham Huntington in Pasadena was the historic Huntington Hotel, built in 1907 on 23 acres of gardens, with a backdrop of the San Gabriel mountains -- also very near the famous Huntington Library. As regards the Langham Place brand, we intend to introduce it in the continental United States sometime. But, we are selective with our partners and would ensure that the product matches with the brand. However, we do have one coming soon to the Caribbean in 2013 – Langham Place, Port St George, The Bahamas.
Luxist : The Langham Place brand will be offering a New Zealand vineyard experience on Waiheke Island, near Auckland, starting next year. Can you explain a little about that? Are there plans to have other interesting guest experiences associated with other Langham's in the future?
The project is still currently under development with the owners and doesn't have a completion date yet. When it opens, it will be branded Langham Place, Waiheke Island. All our Langham properties – Langham and Langham Place have associated guest experiences. If they are not built on the property, they will be created. For example, Langham Place, Mongkok in Hong Kong, offers local market tours, offers guests iPads on loan. All Langham Places feature DJs ( disk jockeys) in the lobby areas– the only hotel brand in the world to do so .
I also noticed that in 2011, there are plans to open a Langham in Pune, India. How well the hotel plans are working out?
Pune is scheduled for Q4, 2011 and the hotel is currently under construction. As it is in the bread basket of India, the micro-climate is temperate year round which means we have literally been able to create spaces which are partially open to the external environment. The property is all about bringing the outside in so the multi-story lobby atrium will also have palm trees inside. We're currently looking at all the major cities in India including Mumbai and Delhi, amongst others, to establish our brand further in the sub-continent. It is a challenging country in which to operate but we have local expertise in place to help us navigate them.
Do you have any more plans to create Langhams or Langham Places in Europe?
We would like to expand The Langham and Langham Place brands in Europe. However, these are dependent upon the right partnerships and the right properties. Our approach has always been to carefully select whom we work with to create a workable long-term marriage. Incidentally, our eight owned properties are now EarthChecked (formerly known as Green Globe) as of June this year, which tell our guests and suppliers that we have attained a level of environmental sustainability. This is good and defines our future.
We used to hear long ago, from the poet Rudyard Kipling, that.." East is east and West is west... and never the twain shall meet.." I believe it met years ago, and continues to meet daily in our Langham and Langham Place. There is history, activity, comfort, and a sense of sanctuary in each, all precursors to great meetings of mind and spirit.