North American-based luxury hospitality group Fairmont is surging ahead with an aggressive global expansion strategy that has seen them go from 58 properties worldwide in 2009 to the current 63 and a minimum of 75 by 2014.
“We see that this is our time. I always say that we will be the fastest growing small luxury hotel company over the next few years,” says Jennifer Fox, President of Fairmont Hotels & Resorts.
Since opening their first property outside North America in Dubai in 2002, 90 per cent of their growth has been outside of America. And the main focus is on the Asia Pacific region, especially China.
“We are a bit late coming into the China market; we have only been here a short time in Shanghai, Beijing and Kunshan so our strategy is quite aggressive when it comes to looking at new opportunities.”
This year alone Fairmont Makati in Manilla, Fairmont Jaipur and Fairmont The Palm in Dubai will open. There will be properties in the UAE, Nanjing and Saudi Arabia opening next year and Fairmont Jakarta, Chengdu and Taiyuan are under construction and aimed at 2014. The group is looking to add Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Shenzhen to the agenda as well when appropriate locations are found.
“We have got a lot of pipeline deals that we are waiting to announce publicly. We have a very healthy pipeline. It is all about growth in this part of the world,” Mrs Fox adds.
Although all new properties will be under the Fairmont name, they will be very different in each destination, with location-specific interior and architectural design and atmosphere, says Fox.
The menus, fabrics, décor and “sensibility” of each property are all geared to the consumer demands of the particular market it is in, and tailored to be “authentically local”. So although many Fairmont hotels have traditionally had historic and landmark qualities, such as the Royal York in Toronto, for example, the newer additions might be completely different.
The Fairmont Baku in Azerbaijan, for example, has a unique and contemporary “three flaming towers” appearance (pictured) because that is the kind of design that attracts and suits customer expectations in that part of the world, according to Mrs Fox.
But Fairmont has as yet not followed suit with other global hospitality players to establish sub-brands to differentiate its properties according to style.
“There may come a time when we get to 100 hotels that we might want to consider segmenting the brand, but right now I believe there is strength in numbers, and the linkages in the authenticity of the design of each individual hotel and the engaging service is what lets people know it is a Fairmont hotel,” Mrs Fox explains.