Sonia Cheng, CEO of New World Hospitality, Discusses Rosewood Hotels Acquisition

Just a few weeks ago, the Hong Kong based New World Hospitality hotel management company completed a $229.5 million transaction to purchase Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, L.L.C. Rosewood Hotels & Resorts will become the ultra-luxury brand in New World Hospitality's portfolio.

With 20 properties in eight countries, the Rosewood collection includes the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek® in Dallas, The Carlyle in New York (above), Rosewood Little Dix Bay on Virgin Gorda and Las Ventanas al Paraiso, A Rosewood Resort in Mexico. This East/West partnership will provide Rosewood a platform to globally expand, with the target of doubling its size with newly opened and pipeline projects over the next five years. In addition to properties already in the pipeline, including the Middle East and the Caribbean.

New World Hospitality will manage the Rosewood Hotels & Resorts in North America, Caribbean/Atlantic and the Middle East, as well as the New World Hotels in China and Southeast Asia, and pentahotels in Shanghai and Beijing and elsewhere.

Sonia Cheng is CEO of New World Hospitality. I interviewed her recently, as I was interested in understanding differences and similarities between the Eastern and Western ideas of hospitality.

JustLuxe: Many people in the U.S are very familiar with the Rosewood Brand. How will New World Hospitality commingle with the Rosewood brand?

Sonia Cheng: The Rosewood brand has established itself as a leader in ultra-luxury hospitality and we look forward to building on this position, respecting the stature of the brand, the quality of the guest experiences and the unique properties that have helped create such loyal customers.

New World Hospitality's goal is to support Rosewood in any way possible, particularly in its future development, in regions such as Asia Pacific, as well as in other parts of the world where the brand is not represented today. As we look to broaden Rosewood's footprint and establish the brand as one of the leading ultra-luxury brands globally, we will ensure that Rosewood's philosophy of creating differentiated stay experiences and their trademarked "sense of place," are key drivers behind this expansion.

We also foresee opening an additional 10 Rosewood hotels over the next five years. Asia will be a priority and new hotels to open there will be announced soon. We anticipate deepening Rosewood's presence in the Middle East; in fact, Rosewood has already announced new projects underway in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Key gateway cities in Europe, and exclusive resort destinations worldwide, are also targets for us. While New World Hospitality manages other brands, there will not be any overlap across them, as each brand will appeal to its own unique customer base, in its own way.

JL: Do you think there is a difference in tone and texture between ideas of hospitality in the Far East and the West?

SC: New World Hospitality manages three distinct brands, and Rosewood Hotels & Resorts is one. So, although there are superficial differences between hospitality in the East and West, we believe that sophisticated, contemporary global travelers - who are most definitely Rosewood's customers - are driven, passionate people who expect excellence from those around them too. And great hosts worldwide are those who have the passion, motivation and expertise to deliver truly extraordinary experiences for everyone who passes through their doors.

What customers at any Rosewood hotel will feel is the heart and soul of New World Hospitality's culture and core philosophy - something we call Relationship Hospitality. We believe that true hospitality is based on nurturing and building strong and lasting relationships with each other, our guests and our communities. We do this by valuing each other on a personal level, understanding individuality and respecting differences.

JL: The Taj brand came to the U.S. about five years ago with their purchase of the Pierre in NY. I also remember the Jumeirah bought The Essex house in NY. Taj has now expanded to San Francisco. But New World is the only brand I know of right now that has bought a major hotel group - I think there are 20 Rosewoods, and they are all very different. How will the New World Hospitality brand create less diversity and more similarity of style and texture?

SC: What makes each Rosewood hotel so very special is their A Sense of Place® philosophy. This means each hotel celebrates the culture, environment and people of the individual location. These very differences are what create such an enchanting collection of hotels - A Sense of Place® is the "red thread" that runs through all of them - that is the consistency of Rosewood hotels and resorts! As such we see this as a distinct strength of the brand, but we will also be looking to see how we can best support and reinforce the brand image further.

JL: There are many Rosewoods that have a residential component to them. I would imagine this mixed use component will stay within the New World Hospitality program. Are there plans for fractionalizing some of these residential components? They are popular in some areas of the U.S., so I was just curious about that.

SC: Mixed use developments, such as a hotel and residential mix, can be very compelling for hotel owners - they offer synergies in both operations and branding when harnessed to one owner - and we would certainly continue to view mixed use opportunities positively. The Rosewood in Abu Dhabi will in fact be very much in this mold with both a hotel and residential component. In regards to fractional ownerships, this does present a different model and would be assessed on a case-by-case basis, as there are many factors that need to be taken into account when entering into any business partnership or structure.

JL: If there is anything else you would like to say, please let me know.

SC: Rosewood Hotels will not be rebranded or relaunched with a New World identity. We are supporting the Rosewood identity, we are not changing it. But we do look forward to bringing the Rosewood brand to new markets, in key gateway cities both in East and West.

Susan Kime

Susan Kime's career combines publishing, journalism and editing. She was the Destination Club/Fractional Update Editor for Elite Traveler, and senior club news correspondent for The Robb Report's Vacation Homes. Her work has been published in Stratos, Luxury Living, European CEO, The London Telegraph, Caviar Affair, ARDA Developments, and Luxist/AOL. She was the Editor-in-Chief of Travel Conno...(Read More)

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