Rosewood Hotel Group, a rapidly expanding luxury hotel chain, is celebrating the opening of its first hotel in the Kingdom today as it embraces an aggressive expansion strategy in Southeast Asia. Its Phnom Penh hotel is located in the country’s tallest skyscraper, occupying the top 14 floors of Vattanac Tower. The Post’s Robin Spiess sat down with Managing Director Daniel Grau last week to discuss his hotel’s impact on the Cambodian luxury hotel market.
Why has the Rosewood chosen to enter the Cambodian market?
The Rosewood has been around since 1974, but it was acquired by New World Development, a Hong Kong-based company, in 2011. Being now a Hong Kong-owned company, the focus has really been to bring the Rosewood into the Asian market. We opened our first Rosewood in the east in Beijing about four years ago, and that hotel did tremendously well.
When this location in Vattanac Tower became available, we decided it was a perfect opportunity to expand our footprint in Southeast Asia. We think it’s the right time to be entering the Cambodian market; the market is developing rapidly here, and we think we have something new and exciting to bring to it. The approach we take isn’t so traditional – we have a more relaxed service style, while still remaining professional and courteous.
The Rosewood first announced its intention to open this branch in 2015. What took so long?
In any project, there are challenges which inevitably delay the opening. It almost doesn’t matter where you are. There are many moving parts which cause delays, but I think this is the right time for us to be opening.
How do you view the market for luxury hotels in Cambodia?
Right now, there aren’t many luxury five-star hotels here in Cambodia. There are many people interested in coming to visit Cambodia, and we think it is important not only to promote the Rosewood, but to promote Phnom Penh and Cambodia as a whole. We have a long list of people who follow the Rosewood who would be interested in visiting here.
I know there are other luxury hotels interested in entering the market, as well. Siem Reap I think is more developed in terms of luxury hotels, and Phnom Penh has more room to grow. I think competition is a positive thing that keeps us on our toes and allows us to improve where we need to improve.
We notice the number of tourists coming into the country on a yearly basis is increasing, and the new airport is going to make it even easier for people to come visit this country. I think the future is bright: levels of service and appreciation for luxury brands among locals are going up.
Does the Rosewood intend to expand its presence in Cambodia in the near future?
We have already signed with Vattanac Capital to open another Rosewood in Siem Reap. This was signed two years ago, and we are about to move forward on that project.
We have been expanding elsewhere in the region as well: we just opened a branch in Phuket [Thailand], and plan to open another few locations in Bangkok, Laos and Hong Kong later this year. There are a lot of hotels in the pipeline, and many more that have already been signed and will begin being constructed soon. It’s been an aggressive expansion for what we believe is a great brand.
How is the Rosewood going to stand out among other luxury hotels?
Ninety-five percent of our team here is local. Our focus has not been to hire people with experience, but rather to hire based on personality and attitude, and then focus on training. Our focus here, first and foremost, is on the team. If our team feels good and is happy, then ultimately the hotel will be more successful.
Our aim right now is to get the service right. The profit will come on its own.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.