Luxury travellers no longer perceive a high-end experience merely on the basis of their surroundings or how much it costs, but on how it enriches their life and the way it makes them feel, says João M. Rocco, Vice President, Global Luxury Brand Management for Sofitel Legend, Sofitel Hotels & Resorts, SO/ for AccorHotels, in this edition of Friday 5.
1. You were instrumental in guiding the development of Sofitel’s luxury brand vision and you oversee the brand management of Sofitel Legend, Sofitel Hotels & Resorts and SO/. What does luxury travel mean to you?
“Our guests tell us that luxury is an emotional experience. This is a 21st century shift from the standard assumption of luxury expressed through material comforts. Nowadays, beautiful lobbies, fine linens and marble bathrooms – while still in demand and highly appreciated – are merely the basis of luxury; they are commodities. Whereas the feeling of entering a magnificent space where one is greeted by name, with a favourite cocktail ready and waiting – this is a thoughtful intimacy that makes guests feel they are being treated with care and surrounded by luxury.
“Modern, elegant and always chic, Sofitel delivers a touch of French culture and art de vivre to guests, wherever they travel in the world. We believe that true luxury is avant-garde and understated; and through our philosophy of Art de Vivre, we blend the richness of each local culture with the grace and elegance of French style to create magnificent guest experiences.
“We aim for a high degree of personalization and individual recognition and an approach, be it in wellness, design or our culinary offerings that inspires guests to feel healthier, happier and more enriched by staying with us.”
2. For the benefit of our travel agent readers, who might be looking for the right Sofitel for their clients, what are the differences between the various Sofitel brands?
“Sofitel Hotels & Resorts is a global ambassador of modern French luxury, where passionate travellers can indulge in chic experiences that artfully blend the essence of each destination with the brand’s French Art de Vivre spirit.
“With more than 123 addresses worldwide, Sofitel promises bespoke service and luxurious facilities that are modern and state-of-the-art; sophisticated places where each and every traveller can feel like a special guest. The luxury brand also includes Sofitel Legend, with its five heritage addresses, where the best of past and present converge to create ultimate luxury experiences that are both timeless and elegant.
“SO/ originated as an exclusive label of Sofitel Hotels & Resorts. Today, fully independent and with an ambitious plan to double its global footprint over the next few years, SO/ is one of the fastest growing brands in the luxury portfolio of AccorHotels. Vivid, expressive and full of personality, SO/ Hotels & Resorts is an exclusive lifestyle brand featuring hotels that are fashionable and reveal a distinctively rebellious interpretation of luxury.
“These are audacious hotels for adventurous travellers, each bursting with energy of the locale that will both entertain and exhilarate. Found in high-energy, dynamic and socially vibrant destinations such as Berlin, Bangkok, and Singapore, SO/ hotels are the places to be and to be seen.”
3. What new and soon-to-open Sofitel hotels are you most excited about?
“Sofitel will introduce in the next three years stunning new properties in sought after destinations including Mexico, Panama, Dubai, Amman and Adelaide.
“SO/ plans to grow its global footprint and will add more than 15 new hotels to its stylish brand portfolio by 2021. Exciting markets that will fly the SO/ banner soon include Vienna, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta and Auckland.”
4. What trends are you seeing in luxury travel?
“The definition of luxury is evolving among sophisticated and worldly travellers, and what they increasingly want, is meaning. It’s all about recognition and fulfillment. Guests no longer perceive a luxurious experience merely on the basis of their surroundings or how much it may cost, but on how it enriches their life and the way it makes them feel.
“Luxury provides the opportunity for a guest to be amazed, perhaps by wonder, delight or a sense of belonging. True luxury is experienced when one is welcomed as a desired guest whose unique inclinations are anticipated and met.
“Ultimately, the heart wants what the heart wants. Personal connections, family experiences and private moments are just a few examples of the meaningfully luxurious trends that global travelers are increasingly seeking.”
5. What are Sofitel’s key selling points?
“At Sofitel you will find the best of the modern French art de vivre artfully blended with the destination. A chic and sophisticated environment, French luxury brands bath amenities, the luxurious Sofitel MyBed concept and some of the best dining experiences are to be expected at Sofitel, wherever you chose to stay.”