Interview with Filip Boyen – CEO for Small Luxury Hotels of the World
Congratulations! How did SLH develop in the last 25 years?
‘SLH has grown considerably over the last 25 years from 70 hotels in 11 countries to over 520 hotels in more than 80 countries around the world. These hotels are the heart of our business and really exemplify our ‘independently minded’ philosophy.’
How did you celebrate this milestone?
‘In October we celebrated our 25th anniversary by recognizing member hotels that have been with us for 20 years or more. These include Chateau Eza, Grand Barrail Chateau Hotel & Spa and Chateau La Cheneviere in France, Danesfield House Hotel & Spa, Tylney Hall and Ashdown Park Hotel & Country Club in the UK, Hotel Claris and Hotel Villa Real in Spain, The Atlantic Hotel in Jersey and The George in New Zealand.’
How do you see The Dylan hotel in the collection?
‘The Dylan joined the SLH brand in 1998 and has been a valued member of SLH already for 17 years, from the day it opened its doors.’
Can you tell a bit more about unique & remote hotels in the collection?
‘We have various hotels that could be classed as ‘remote’ for one reason of another. The Injidup Spa Retreat in Margaret River, Western Australia, is located in 3,000 acres of the unspoiled Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park and offers a perfect off the grid retreat while the Terelj Hotel in Mongolia is surrounded by mountains in the Gorkhi-Terelj National Park. Other SLH hotels can only be reached by seaplane or boat, like Baros Maldives.’
How ‘Small’ are Small Luxury Hotels?
‘The average number of rooms in an SLH hotel is 48, however, several of our hotels offer guests a level of privacy and comfort all of their own with just four or five rooms including Katitche Point Greathouse in the British Virgin Islands, and New Zealand’s Lake Timara Lodge in Blenheim and Eagles Nest in the Bay of Islands.’
What makes the SLH hotels remarkable?
‘SLH is all about remarkable hotels that stand out from the crowd thanks to their individual characteristics. At some hotels this may be the family run atmosphere of a hotel that has been in the same family for generations, at others it may be the heritage of the building, whether it’s a castle, a former military base or an old perfumery. SLH hotels celebrate their heritage in all forms and that’s what makes them so special.’
Can you give some examples of unique SLH concepts?
‘Each of our hotels has a hidden gem that showcases what it is about an SLH hotel that makes it different from anywhere else – for example two of our hotels offer guests the opportunity to sleep under the stars, either in suites that have retractable rooves or in an igloo at 2,450m altitude. Discovering and experiencing these hidden gems makes staying at an SLH hotel all the more memorable.’
What’s the strength of the brand?
‘The strength of the SLH brand lies in our heritage. We are the champions of small, luxury, independent hotels and guests looking for genuine ways to experience destinations, cultures and cuisine around the world know that they can look to us for guidance and that real stamp of authenticity. No two hotels in the collection are alike however all are united in the consistently high levels of quality and service.’
Where does SLH stand in 25 years?
‘We have recently unveiled a new look and feel for the brand that celebrates our ‘Independently minded’ hotels. While this mindset is nothing new it provides us with a contemporary and representative brand positioning to communicate to our guests and potential customers exactly what sets SLH apart from the rest. Looking ahead we will be focusing on supporting this premise through all aspects of the business, from providing our hotels with the best distribution and technology platforms and the best sales and marketing support to ensuring the highest and most consistent standards of quality and service at our hotels for our guests. SLH has flourished over the last 25 years by adapting to meet the changing needs of the luxury traveller, and this principle will continue to guide us for the next 25 years and beyond.’
What is the most remarkable news item on SLH ever?
‘High profile guests love SLH hotels for their privacy and service. The exposure we received was remarkable when the Duchess of Cambridge chose to stay at an SLH hotel on her last night as Kate Middleton!’