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Rosewood Hotels & Resorts' CEO, Sonia Cheng

With 16 new hotels in the works, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts CEO Sonia Cheng talks about the concept of “relationship hospitality” – the belief that true hospitality is about people and the relationships built between hotel associates, guests, and local communities.

The philosophy of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts® is to reflect each individual location’s history, culture and sensibilities –establishing the Rosewood brand as A Sense of Place®. With quite a large portfolio of hotels and resorts in many destinations over the world, and new hotels opening left and right (I’ve counted 7 so far between 2016-2019), how does Rosewood accomplish creating legendary properties that guests quickly grow to love and return to time and time again?

Actually, we have 16 new hotels announced to open by 2019! The foundation for our growth is our concept of “relationship hospitality” which is something we talk about a lot at Rosewood. This is about our belief that true hospitality is found in the strong relationships we build with our guests, our communities and our associates. This really is a business that’s all about people. I regularly hear from guests that it’s the warmth, intuition and charm of our associates that keeps them coming back year after year.

As a brand that focuses on A Sense of Place® with hotels in multiple, iconic and off-the-beaten- path destinations, how do you incorporate that authentic luxury feel, while making sure that the local community is also included in the experiences Rosewood is creating?

Rosewood properties are luxurious in both product and service but more importantly we feel that true luxury is in the offering of unique, authentic experiences that showcase the destination’s history and culture, whether that is through art, architecture, design or dining.  Each Rosewood property embraces, celebrates and showcases its location.  We believe a hotel can only achieve exceptional status when it represents the soul and sensibilities of the destination, so that is what we strive to do.  It must combine the traditions and heritage of its location with an exceptional product and service.

Rosewood Luang Prabang Guest Villa

One of your openings for 2017, Rosewood Luang Prabang in Laos, will be Rosewood’s first luxury tented villa encampment. We’ve also heard that this opening will bring the launch for the first philanthropic hospitality school in Laos. This all sounds very exciting for Rosewood! What details can you share with us?

Rosewood Luang Prabang will be a luxury tented villa encampment located just 10 minutes from the historic city of Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Laos.  The resort will be completed immersed within a virtually untouched natural environment that will encourage guests to unwind and become in tune with the serene surroundings.  The property will offer 22 spacious deluxe villas, garden villas, private pool villas and luxury tented accommodations – which will be a first for Rosewood – with features such as open-air showers, tubs and living rooms. There will also be an arrival manor, which will house the brand’s signature Sense, A Rosewood Spa, as well as a bistro serving French and Laotian cuisine and a bar.  The icing on the cake is for the property to be home to the first philanthropic hospitality school in Laos, which will give back to the local community by providing its students with professional hospitality training.

Rosewood London
Rosewood London

The Rosewood Curator Programme features a list of artisans, designers and other cultural icons alike. What can you tell us about the programme?

Rosewood Curators are a highly select collection of tastemakers and high-profile personalities who share their favorite haunts and travel tips for each Rosewood destination. Curators offer insider knowledge that allows Rosewood’s guests to engage in the local culture of each destination. The program was created as another way to offer guests the opportunity for a deeper exposure to and appreciation for the locations where we operate.

Last year, Las Ventanas al Paraíso, A Rosewood Resort launched its first collection of five once-in-a-lifetime experiences for its guests for the summer and winter months, to ensure that guests could experience the very best of Baja. Will Rosewood open this up to its other properties, or offering anything similar to further that real, authentic guest experience?

We are always looking for ways to provide guests with new and exciting experiences that are unique to each destination. Las Ventanas al Paraíso’s once-in-a-lifetime experiences are one example of the ways in which we do this, and they have been received with great enthusiasm. We offer many other immersive experiences throughout the collection, too. For example, Rosewood’s “A Sense of Taste” program takes guests on immersive culinary journeys, so at Rosewood CordeValle in California, guests can participate in a two-day winemaker’s experience where they can create their own blend of wine.

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