Why did Dorsett decide to open a hotel in London, particularly Shepherds Bush?
Dorsett Shepherds Bush is not just our first hotel in London but our first outside of Asia. It has a style that is Asia meets Britannia.
I love London and the UK. I value its transparency and that you know what to expect. London is going in the right direction and has a strategy that we are aligned to. It’s attractive as a destination to our Asian-focused markets.
We really believe in this area as there is a lot of growth and development around here; we’ve contributed to the park and have helped to make it more vibrant. Westfield opening at White City in 2008 really started an opportunity for this part of London and guests staying here are also within walking distance to Kensington and shuttle services to Bicester Village. Our Asian travellers will appreciate the proximity of these shopping areas.
This area is also well connected to Heathrow and lots of corporate areas because of its close location to Hammersmith. A volume of guests at the hotel is corporate business and they get more value for their pound given its location.
What can you tell us about the property?
The hotel is part conversion and extension of a Grade II listed building which was originally The Shepherds Bush Pavilion. We’ve retained the historic façade but developed a contemporary look inside with our in-house team. There are 187 rooms and 24 suites in the hotel with facilities including an executive lounge, the Pictures restaurant and Jin bar. Our Chinese restaurant Shikumen also opened last month with an established restaurateur.
The hotel also has our new spa concept, Pavilion. This focuses on treatments that drive results and help to recover from the stress of day to day life. This includes LPG technology that has a visible change in anti-ageing and body contouring after a few sessions but with non-aggressive methods.
Throughout the hotel there are birds used in the design, which will become a more important part of our brand, standing for freedom and the fact we have ‘landed’ in the UK.
Do you have any more plans for hotels in London or Europe?
At the Shepherds Bush site we are aiming to take over the former Walkabout bar next door that we will convert into serviced apartments. This will be a welcome extension to the current hotel.
Our pipeline also includes a new City London hotel at Aldgate. This is due to open at the end of 2016.
We believe in cities and we take our time to study them before we decide where our next openings will be.
Our city openings also have a billboard effect by raising awareness of the brands in each local market and hopefully they will stay with us in other cities around the world.
What makes Dorsett different from other hotel groups?
My family has been involved with the hotel industry for 30 years with brands such as Ritz-Carlton and Hyatt. But we are an owner and a builder now so we can be more customer focused.
Service is a key differentiator. Other hotel groups are getting too cookie cutter and here we focus on affordable luxury with notice to small details. Value is key to our brand and giving the customer more than they expected.
For the London property this involves offering an extra discount at Westfield and other shopping outlets. Sometimes our customers want luxury goods but not always a luxury hotel so they can spend more on goods and gifts.
We also run a mini bus service to Chiswick Park and Hammersmith that then allow our passengers to go onto the shops. More and more Asian holidaymakers are travelling with three generations so the flexibility of this means the older family members can feel safe about coming back.
What other plans are underway for Dorsett?
Dorsett currently has 23 hotels and more than 8, 500 rooms with three brands: our four-star Dorsett/Dorsett Grand name; the three-star Silka brand and the d. Collection, a boutique name.
Aside from our London opening we also opened the Dorsett Tsuen Wan in Hong Kong, Silka Cheras Kuala Lumpur and Lushan Resort in Jiangxi, China this year.
We also have plans to renamed the Cosmopolitan Hotel to Dorsett Wan Chai next year, with further openings in Malaysia, China and Hong Kong.