International hotel chain Leonardo Hotels made an impressive entry into the UK market with the acquisition of five Scottish hotels from Portland Hotels.
The deal increased the company’s presence in Edinburgh and gains a presence in Glasgow, Perth and Aberdeen.
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This acquisition followed its €7m investment to create its Scottish flagship Leonardo Royal Hotel Edinburgh, which include a novel range of ‘women-friendly’ rooms.
Daniel Roger, Managing Director Leonardo Hotels Europe, explains more about the company’s strategy, its brand philosophy and some of the secrets behind its rapid growth.
Q. What was your rationale behind your decision to locate in Edinburgh/Scotland?
Daniel: Although Leonardo Hotels has been in the market for 10 years, it is still a young hotel chain which is experiencing strong growth. The ultimate target of the company is to promote and strengthen the brand Leonardo Hotels Europe wide. That includes the UK market.
Q. What do you think the Leonardo Hotels brand offers that is different from other hotel groups?
Daniel: Our employees. Their loyalty as well as their personal commitment are essential reasons for the success of our company.
Furthermore, Leonardo Hotels represents a non-standardised hotel concept with a high level of quality, which meets our guests’ demand for individuality. Throughout Europe, our hotels provide accommodation in economically strong and attractive destinations. They are centrally located in the city centres and at the airports, providing a perfect infrastructure and good connections to public transport.
The arrival of first of our ‘Royal’ brand in Edinburgh is particularly exciting. This is a brand – fitting into the four star superior segment – that characterises a new style of hotel; a hotel that not only has premium quality sleeping and working features for its guests but has been innovatively designed to reflect the local character of its location with tasteful and light interiors.
A special feature of the Leonardo Royal Hotel Edinburgh is its ‘women-friendly’, a selection of bespoke rooms which are orientated specifically to meet the needs of the ever-growing number of female corporate guests.
Q. If there was one word or one thing that best describes a Leonardo Hotel experience, what would it be?
Daniel: The satisfaction of our customers is our greatest asset.
Q: How do you explain the Leonardo Hotels financial success story?
Daniel: The secret to success that stands behind our rapid growth is the correct instinct for attractive and economically strong locations with buildings in first-class condition. We have built up a team during the past several years that has specialised in the takeover process. It is impressive to see how quickly we have achieved very good results through investment in new buildings.
As the satisfaction of our customers is our greatest asset, in order to achieve it we work at it daily, investing lots of time and money. We orient ourselves to the feedback of our guests and use that to define our strategy and direction. A guest survey in late 2016 resulted in a fantastically positive evaluation which pleased us enormously. The survey showed the satisfaction of our guests is high – especially when it comes to the friendliness and professionalism of our employees. Our attractive locations clearly earned points and led, together with the stylish and individualised design of our buildings, to the finding that people are happy to book Leonardo Hotels. For us, that is a marvellous confirmation; however, we still see lots of possibilities for further development and will always work hard to make our guests more than simply satisfied. Standing still is not an option at Leonardo Hotels.
Leonardo Hotels once more worked with Andreas Neudahm, one of Europe’s foremost hotel designers and the man behind more than 90 hotel designs for the group, to create the concept for the Leonardo Royal Hotel Edinburgh.
Q. How do you design a hotel?
Andreas: I spend a few days simply being a tourist, taking in as much as I can. I even think it helps not being from the place I am designing the hotel in – as you see it all with fresh perspective. I then make sure that is reflected throughout the design – from major themes to small details.
Q. What is vital to the design process?
Andreas: I focus on separate sections; nearly always starting with the customer’s first impression and the lobby area – as well as the bar, which has to be the heart of the hotel. For me these are where the lasting impressions are made, so from a design perspective they are the most important.
My background is in carpentry and furniture, so I put functionality at the forefront. At the end of the day a hotel has to be practical, it has to work and it has to make money.
Too often I see designers designing for design’s sake – creating something that looks beautiful but doesn’t pay enough attention to the comfort of the customer or the business of the hotel.