Preferred Hotels is riding an unprecedented growth wave, generating $1.1 billion in reservations revenue in 2016, signing on 82 new hotels, adding to their ever expanding collection of independent hotels around the world. Currently, there are 650 properties across 85 countries in the Preferred portfolio, which all meet rigorously maintained levels of luxury, yet retain individual charms and experiences for discerning travelers. Luxury Travel Advisor sat down with Philipp Weghmann, executive vice president of Europe, at the newly rebranded The Hari Hotel in London which just joined Preferred, for the scoop on Preferred’s latest member hotels and news for travel advisors.
What has helped fuel Preferred’s recent growth? We did a comprehensive rebranding in 2015 and followed that momentum with a revamp of iPrefer, our guest loyalty program, simplifying it to a two-tier structure with better benefits, and we have seen a 57 percent increase in enrollments, and a 24 percent increase in stays with iPrefer. This is great for travel advisors, too, as the customer gets iPrefer benefits with all agent bookings through our GDS. Another great resource for agents is our VIP Desks, these are dedicated voice reservation offices in Chicago, Sao Palo, London and Moscow to assist with client bookings and special requests.
What kinds of properties are joining Preferred and why? Independent hotels, that have unique offerings — new this year Myconian Villa Collection in Mykonos, Il Castelfafi in Tuscany, The Thief in Oslo, Norway — just a bit of the range we attract. High style luxury with truly one-of-a-kind accommodation and experiences. Certainly the big hotel companies have increased their exposure at different levels of branding, offering options for independent hotels, but really they cannot compete with the flexibility that Preferred offers. To be part of a brand, there are concessions a hotel owner will have to make, and this can be expensive and also can diminish the individual experience, not so with Preferred where each hotel is meant to shine.
Which new European hotel are you most excited about? Actually, I get excited about them all! Let’s see, if you make me choose, the new Iberostar Grand Hotel Portals Nous which will open this July on Mallorca’s southwest coast in the exclusive area of Portals Nous, is going to be really special. The adults-only 66-room boutique property will have themed-suites — everything from an astronomy-themed Stargazer Suite and a fully equipped Gaming Suite with consoles, pinball machines, table soccer, and a terrace with mini-golf putting green to two “Naughty Suites.”
I’m also really excited that Preferred has added hotels in Scandinavia, particularly The Thief in Oslo, which has to be the coolest luxury hotel, with pop art all over and stunning views. There’s also Hotel At Six that just opened this March in Stockholm, another high-design property by the same ownership. This is typical of members of Preferred, we have many owners who are very happy with one hotel and then keep adding properties, which is why our priority is to keep our current members very happy.
Preferred Hotels & Resorts has added nearly a dozen hotels just in Europe and more are in the pipeline. In addition to those mentioned above: AJWA Hotel Sultanahemet (Istanbul, Turkey); ASPEN alpin lifestyle hotel (Grindelwald, Switzerland); Hotel Midmost (Barcelona, Spain); Mykonos Princess and Mykonos Blanc (Mykonos, Greece); Parco San Marco Lifestyle Beach Resort (Lake Lugano/Cima di Porlezza, Italy); Pestana Cidadela Cascais Pousada & Art Hotel (Cascais, Portugal) and later this year the Orazio Palace Hotel will open in Rome, Italy.