With a solid reputation in property ownership and management, Swire Group’s creation of a Swire Hotels brand was not entirely unexpected. “Swire has such equity in Hongkong and in other cities,” said Dean Winter, general manager of The Upper House, the second member of the company’s porfolio due to open in October.
Winter went on to say that with Swire’s acquisition of hotels in places such as secondary hubs in the UK, it was felt the time was right to branch out into hotel management. “We believed something premium in the market was needed.”
Following up on last year’s launch of The Opposite House in Beijing, Swire is preparing to unveil the 117-room Upper House in Hongkong, spanning the 38th to 48th floors of a tower block in its upscale Pacific Place complex. Tagged as “more home than hotel”, it features the design vision of architect Andre Fu (remember the name, he’s the current favourite for choice leisure projects), who favours use of natural materials, distinctive sculptures and original artwork to create an understated and residential feel.
Against this stylish setting, ensuring guest comfort and convenience remains the main objective. Winter stressed: “Since we are a small operation – only 200 employees – we have the ability to do things differently that will hopefully create a memorable experience because of our product and personality.”
The staff, who are always so intrinsic to the success of a new hotel venture, will be encouraged to “be spontaneous and be themselves” at work, he said. To help them do their job better, he said, they will be provided uniforms that are not only be tasteful, but also feature pieces that can be mixed and matched, depending on how they feel that day.
Guestrooms, including 21 suites and two penthouses, come with either harbour or Peak views, and measure from 68sqm, already a very generous figure in a city known for its shoebox sized interiors. An outdoor lawn on the sixth floor and the Café Gray Deluxe of well-known Chef Gray Kunz on the 49th floor are highlights of the hotel’s amenities. There is no pool on the premises, but Winter said arrangements were being made to substitute for that lack.
Swire Hotels is set to grow further in January 2010 with the 345-room EAST, also a hotel within a commercial block – One Island East in Quarry Bay. The area is home to various multinationals, including some of the most prestigious Fortune 500 corporations. The 90-room Tai Koo Hui in Guangzhou will join the Swire Hotels roster in the near future.
The Upper House will be ready for bookings in late July. For more details, visit www.swirehotels.com
Margie T Logarta