Chloe Riley of HOTELSMag.com interviewed Lisa Holladay, VP of Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis brands and uncovered a couple of interesting insights:
Lisa Holladay drives the global brand marketing strategy for Marriott International's luxury brands, including Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co., Ritz-Carlton Reserve, St. Regis Hotels & Resorts and Bulgari. HOTELS spoke with her about steps the company’s taking to make luxury more accessible.
Marriott’s global brand leader and VP of Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis brands, Lisa Holladay:
HOTELS: What’s going on with Marriott’s upper luxury brands in terms of making a move towards casual luxury?
Lisa Holladay: Marriott has started this journey of making quite substantial changes in luxury. From major things like changing the brand identities, updating the logo and the color, to things that may seem smaller but actually have a huge impact, and that was around the grooming standards.
H: What kind of changes?
LH: Facial hair was one. And earrings, nail polish color, hosiery. Previously, women were required to wear hosiery even if they were working in Palms Springs and it was 100 degrees outside. The way their hair was cut, how long their hair could be – it really encompassed everything from hair to nails to clothing to shoes. We want to appeal not only for younger guests, have a more relaxed feel, but also it’s super important for the talent we’re attracting, the future ladies and gentlemen that we want to come work at the brand.
H: What’s hot and trending from a service and amenities perspective?
LH: We went through a small moment in time where there was almost a disconnect with the concierges because guests had so much information at their fingertips. What we see now is a complete swing the other way, that there’s so much information and they’re inundated with so much, they’re really looking for the individuals at the property to be the local experts.
For a while, I also felt like everything was so focused on what technology we’re bringing in and we see a swing in that, too. It’s not that customers don’t want it, but what we’ve found in luxury specifically is that ultimately technology doesn’t take the place of our staff.
H: Fashion and lifestyle partnerships – how are those evolving?
LH: We’re working with the designers from Marchesa, currently Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig. They’re just wonderful connoisseurs for their brand, definitely representative of our target guest.
It gave us the opportunity to not only talk about our connection and our design connection, but also to really highlight having weddings at a St. Regis. So we’re working with them right now on how we can evolve that strategy and maybe focus on honeymoons next.
There are a number of changes taking place in the Luxury accommodation space, and Marriott seems to be aggressively pursuing interesting strategies. For example, Bulgari, the Italian fashion brand and supposed supplier of body washes for the new Grand Luxxe brand before the units opened, is now owned by Marriott. We learned that Ritz Carlson is offering its own luxury cruises. In the above article, we learned that concierges did not have as much information as guests because of the use of technology. Now, it seems guests are turning toward experiences of concierges, which places more emphasis on staff members and their knowledge.
The luxury space is demanding and competitive. As members of the Grand Luxxe Residence Club, we hope management is aware of the rising standards being adopted by the industry's other luxury brands. We look forward to seeing the new season unfold.