Accor has set out its plan to reposition Sofitel as a player in the International Luxury Hotel market this week.
At the Sofitel Wanda in Beijing, the first of its “new” hotels to carry the brand, Sofitel’s CEO Yann Caillere highlighted that there would be both a shake-up of existing properties as well as an aggressive expansion.
The “new” hotels will feature outstanding design and a range of gastronomic choices, as well as spa and fitness options.
The number of Sofitels is likely to fall in the near future to 139 (by 2010) as several of the current Sofitels are likely to be rebranded if they do not meet the new standards. This will especially affect existing properties in France. There is a mid-term objective to have 250 hotels. Some properties may leave the group altogether while others could fall into the new upscale (four-star) “Pullman” brand, which will have a stronger focus on the MICE market.
The move upmarket is likely to mean higher room rates in some cases, but with Sofitels due to open in the short term in Edinburgh, Heathrow T5, Cannes, Moscow and Mumbai, the “new” style of Sofitel is likely to become more familiar to business travellers.
There will also be two other Sofitel “brands”. Sofitel Legends will, from 2008, have seven hotels, introduced over two years, which will be heritage hotels often seen as the “best hotel in a destination”, while So by Sofitel will be a chain of smaller “boutique” properties aimed at younger trend-conscious people. The objective is for 15-20 city hotels, the first of which is due to open in Paris at the Arc de Triomphe in 2009.
Talking exclusively to Business Traveller in Beijing, Gilles Pelisson, CEO of Accor Group, spoke of how in the third quarter of 2008 Accor planned to launch a new loyalty programme. While details are still being finalised, Business Traveller understands that this will cover all hotels in the group and be free to join unlike the current Favourite Guest subscription programme. Sofitel currently runs its own Privilege loyalty scheme.
For more information visit accor.com.
Report by Julian Gregory