Onsite at ILTM: News on LHW, Navigatr and Hyatt; IHG Launches New Regent

ILTM is buzzing—the mood is upbeat and the sun is shining in Cannes for the global luxury event which takes place this week. First stop, straight from the airport, is lunch for press at Le Negresco in Nice, hosted by The Leading Hotels of the World (LHW). 

“COVID taught us that travelers are intrepid. Travel is not what they do; it is who they are,” said president and CEO Shannon Knapp. Her outlook was quite bullish, citing data that revenues are 43 percent ahead of 2019 and bookings for 2023 are 26 percent ahead of 2022, which was already a record year. “While these are great indicators, we would be naive to believe that economic factors and geopolitical instability won’t have an impact.”

Travel advisors remain vitally important to LHW, and Knapp tells us they are continuing to add support for advisors and looking to rebrand and upgrade the VITA program in 2023. 

Other trends she shared LHW is seeing:

  • Consumers continue to "trade up" when traveling. LHW’s suite and villa bookings are 36 percent above 2019 levels. 
  • International travel has returned, but not at the expense of domestic travel. U.S. travel to Europe is up approximately 225 percent YOY and flat to 2019.
  • Travelers have a renewed interest in city destinations. LHW’s metropolitan properties have seen a 100 percent increase in revenue since 2021.

Le Negresco, where the lunch was held, is a pink and white Belle Epoque gem. Complete with a domed tower, the National Historic Monument faces the Bay of Angels, with all the top suites facing the water. The grand interiors are enhanced by some 6,000 pieces of original art (the former owner was a collector of museum-worthy pieces by Dali and Moretti). The hotel isn’t stuck in the past though, Director of Communications Helene Seropian tells us sustainability has been a priority since 2014 and the hotel has the highest eco ratings in France. Le Negresco is leading the way in F&B, too: Head Chef Virginie Basselot is the second woman ever to be named Meilleur Ouvrier de France. She oversees all the one Michelin star Le Chantecler, and we can attest that all the hotel F&B was delish. In addition, the property is adding food service on the beach for next summer.

Navigatr: Big Merger and Tech News

Two men standing side by side
Ensemble Executive Chairman David Harris and President Michael Johnson (Photo by Emily Goldfischer)

We also met with David Harris, executive chairman, and Michael Johnson, president of Ensemble, who shared the timeline of the integration of Ensemble into Navigatr. The "new" Ensemble—acquired by Naviagtr Group in June 2022—is focused not on being the biggest consortium, but the most profitable for its members. 

Wondering how they can increase profitability for members, “It all comes down to the proprietary platform ADX, which is already providing members with increased commissions and profitability. Average yield is 8 percent,” said Johnson. They have been working on this platform for the last 10 years and continue improving it.

“The new Ensemble is about the “and—preserving the best of the traditional consortia and adding new programs, tools and tech,” said Harris. Mega investments have been since the purchase in June and they have been busy “co-mingling talent, upgrading tech, updated branding, [and] improving the member experience with refreshed marketing and events,” added Johnson. As for 2023, they will be rolling out Communities, a program for Ensemble members to inspire each other in growth and exploration. Each community will be built around niche groups in the travel industry, i.e., Cruise, Adventure, Fun & Sun, and Luxury. Also, expect to see new marketing, magazines and training programs.

Kensington Tours Launches Black Book and Beyond Villas

We also had a quick chat with Helen Giontsis, president of Kensington Tours. She is super excited about the launch of Black Book by Kensington, a carefully curated set of exclusive experiences that offer a level of access previously limited only to a handful of insiders. This will include the Oscars, Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix, Giants of Africa festival in Rwanda in August and others. Think: Super high-end and super exclusive.

"We are also seeing big demand for yacht itineraries combined with villa rentals,” said Giontsis. This is why the tour operator is also launching Beyond Villas by Kensington in January 2023, geared towards travelers who seek the ultimate privacy in the form of a luxury villa along with tailor-made customized itineraries with unique in-destination experiences.

Side note: Mark Stubbert, VP of advisor services for Travel Edge Network also stopped by our table at the Hotel Majestic Barriere. The focus for Travel Edge is education, “There are lots of new travel advisors joining the industry, sometimes as a second career post-pandemic and we are all about offering the best education and training.”

Hyatt's Development Boom

Dinner was at La Palme d'Or at Hotel Martinez, part of the Hyatt Unbound Collection, and prepared by Exec Chef Christian Sinicropi as a tribute to the many films and filmmakers that have graced the hotel. It was impressive, with beautifully sculpted dishes and many waiters on hand to present. The big news? Beyond the recent announcement to acquire Dream Hotels, Hyatt is on a development boom.

Tristan Dowell, VP, global luxury lifestyle and leisure, shared some of the top-line news. Hyatt’s Independent Collection brands will continue global growth with recent openings and a strong development pipeline through 2025 across The Unbound Collection by Hyatt, Destination by Hyatt and JdV by Hyatt brands. New luxury and lifestyle hotels will continue to be added on an even greater scale globally with openings in new key leisure markets like Mexico, Germany and the U.K. Recent openings include: Hotel La Compañia (Panama City, Panama), Magma Resort Santorini (Santorini, Greece), La Zambra (Málaga, Spain) and Grayson Hotel (New York, New York). 

What to look out for in 2023 and beyond in the Unbound Collection? NUMU (San Miguel de Allende, Mexico), Grand Hansa Hotel (Helsinki, Finland), slated to open in summer 2023, and Noor-Us-Sabah Palace (Bhopal, India), expected to open in 2025.

Destination by Hyatt is a diverse collection of 55-plus independent hotels, resorts and residences that are individual at heart yet connected by a commitment to embody the spirit of each location. Recent openings: Austria Haus (Vail, Colorado), 7Pines Sardinia Resort (Sardinia, Italy) and Schloss Roxburghe Golf Hotel (Kelso, United Kingdom). Next up is Banyan Cay Resort and Golf (West Palm Beach, Florida), expected to open in summer 2023.

JdV by Hyatt offers a collection of more than 20 vibrant, independent hotels that are reflections of the urban neighborhoods they call home. Recently,  Hyatt’s agreement with Lindner Hotels will significantly increase the number of franchised properties under the Lindner Hotels & Resorts and all hotel brands in key cities across Germany and in Central and Eastern Europe. This will add 30 hotels and 5,500 rooms into the JdV by Hyatt portfolio, with most of these hotels expected to join the World of Hyatt by the end of 2022. What’s next? The Pell (Middletown, Rhode Island) and FirstName Bordeaux (Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France), both are slated to open in early 2023.

IHG's New Regent Hotel

The facade of the Carlton Cannes, a Regent Hotel

Finally, InterContinental Hotels Group announced the iconic Carlton Cannes will become Europe’s first new-generation Regent Hotel. The hotel will open in spring 2023 after a two-year, multimillion-euro redevelopment, becoming t flagship property within the new generation of Regent Hotels & Resorts, as the brand—part of IHG’s Luxury & Lifestyle Collection—returns to "reimagine" modern luxury once more.

As we are here in Cannes, the excitement is palpable to see the reinvention of the epitome of elegance and the "Grande Dame" of Cannes’ hotel scene. The iconic property’s majestic Belle Epoque façade, framed by twin domes, occupies the frontage of an entire city block overlooking the prestigious beachfront promenade, La Croisette. The new iteration—Carlton Cannes, a Regent Hotel—will have 332 rooms and 37 branded residences, designed by French interior designer Tristan Auer, known for his polyhedral aesthetics and touch of irreverence. The grand-scale renovation will preserve the hotel’s historic features, including its legendary façade.

Stay tuned for more from ILTM.

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