• Luxury challenges

The hotel manager’s job is a constant juggling act to maximise occupancy, while not turning away important guests. So imagine the angst at the Langham in London, when a GBP350,000 booking for the hotel’s supersuite had to be turned away – because it was already occupied.
Spurred on by such issues, the Langham is now investing GBP3m to build a second executive suite, in which to accommodate high rollers. And it is not alone in seeing the benefit of creating super luxurious and expansive suites for visitors who can afford, well, almost anything. Apart from shelling out for the substantial room rate, such guests also frequently spend well on other hotel support services.

Also keen to capture the high end market in London is the Connaught, where its first high end suite, the USD23,900 a night Apartment, has been followed by two more: “We found ourselves having to disappoint people,” Maybourne chief executive Stephen Alden told the Wall Street Journal recently.
Some suites provide security and separation. At the Rosewood in London, the 6,295 square foot Grand Manor House wing has its own entrance, lift and unique postcode, offering great value at USD41,500 a night.
Supersuite demand is up globally, and further down the price range, luxury is also selling well. Rosewood is increasing the percentage of suites in its resort properties, while Mandarin Oriental’s extension to its Barcelona hotel will feature 17 suites of the 22 additional rooms added. Designs are now moving away from being overly ornate, towards a more contemporary style that follows high end urban apartments. And if a suite is sitting empty without a high roller in residence, then it surely works well from night to night, as the ultimate upgrade for a loyal guest.

HA Perspective [by Katherine Doggrell]: Nothing tells other people how wealthy you are more than buying something which a) is totally valueless the next day and b) you have no awareness of for much of the time you are paying for it, owing to being unconscious.
But if hotels were just somewhere to sleep and store our baggage then we’d all be staying in *insert name of brightly-coloured budget brand here*. Sometimes it does the soul good to indulge and to be treated like the king that you may well be, or in the case of USD41,500-a-night, god. And the fact of the matter is that there are only so many gold, peacocks and fine spices a person can buy. The astonishingly rich really do have money left over to be able to afford to give their luggage somewhere more splendid to sleep than many of us can store ourselves.
And there are more and more of them. According to Capgemimi and RBC Wealth Management’s 2013 World Wealth Report, despite the turbulence of the global economy, particularly in the Eurozone, both the population and wealth of global HNWIs reached significant new highs in 2012.
The HNWI population (those with over USD1m or more in investible assets) increased by 9.2% to reach 12.0 million, after remaining flat in 2011. Meanwhile, aggregate investable wealth increased 10.0% to USD46.2 trillion, after declining slightly in 2011.
North America reclaimed its position as the largest HNWI market as its market share of 3.73 million HNWIs overtook Asia-Pacific’s 3.68 million. However, Asia-Pacific is home to the majority of the fastest-growing HNWI country markets and is expected to surpass North America again in the near future. HNWI wealth is forecasted to grow by 6.5% annually to USD55.8 trillion by 2015, driven mainly by growth in Asia-Pacific HNWI wealth.
So go ahead, luxury operators, buy more marble and gold. And for the rest of us, maybe a career change to buttling. It’s a growth sector.

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