This week LATTE chats exclusively with David Brook, the Chief Executive Officer of The Ruby Collection, the hotelier that opened The Ruby Apartments on the Gold Coast in November last year. The Ruby Apartments is the first of four towers that will make up the massive project.
Brook has been involved in the development from day one and has a rich history working in hotels and resorts all over the world, with companies including Zagame Group of Hotels and Resorts, Carlson Hotels and Accor.
He has been heavily involved in the design and fit-out of the guest rooms and public areas of The Ruby Apartments, including the process of choosing fabrics, materials, furnishings and equipment, visiting the factories and ensuring the quality control of all the items chosen.
The Ruby Apartments have been opened now for six months. How has business been over the launch phase and Christmas period? Any surprises?
We opened on time and to a fanfare of local dignitaries, press and industry partners who gave us rave reviews from day one, mainly based around the overall presentation and uniqueness of the resort. But I guess that the biggest compliment to us so far has been the huge amount of return bookings and visitation and so many of the local community coming in for a weekend of pampering.
What are some of the guest trends (length of stays) you’re seeing and what’s been hot? One-, two- or three-bedroom units?
We originally thought that we may struggle to sell the one-bedroom apartments, especially keeping in mind that our focus was to attract the family business, however, we were so wrong, with young families taking advantage of the complimentary cots and utilising our on-site Junior Kids’ Club so that new mums and dads can take an evening off and enjoy a peaceful dinner together in Stones Restaurant without having to worry about the little ones.
Why did The Ruby Collection pinpoint the Gold Coast for this development? And are there other cities in Australia that are of interest for the company, or will you remain firmly rooted on the Gold Coast?
The Gold Coast is seen as the hub of family fun with so much on offer, whether that be a day at the beach, fun at the theme parks or a leisurely day out in the rainforests and vineyards of the hinterland, all which suit our business model to a tee. The Ruby Collection was built keeping in mind the successes of Paradise Resort and the value of the family market. Would we ever consider other cities? Well, our motto is definitely “never say never”, so I guess anything is possible .
Can you define what the company means by a “new standard for luxury holiday accommodation”? There are many luxury resorts and hotels on the Gold Coast, so what is so different about the Ruby Apartments?
There may be many luxury styles of accommodation not only on the Gold Coast but also all over Australia, and we are definitely not saying we offer the best, [but] what we do offer is a unique experience with our modern technology and bespoke interior furniture design that we guarantee cannot be found in any other hotel or resort. And that welcoming feeling as you enter our lobby with all your senses leads to a feeling of coming home and feeling special.
Can you elaborate on the Ruby Apartments’ “personalised service and resort style amenities” mentioned on your website’s landing page?
Each room has been designed with the guest in mind, from the bathroom footstools for the kids to reach the toilet and sink, to the in-room tablet offering immediate access to 24-hour concierge, entertainment and information. All rooms have ultra-fast Wi-Fi with Chromecast allowing our guests to watch their own content from their personal device. Whilst our rooms are apartment-style, we provide a daily housekeeping service, 24-hour reception, security and room service. So if you feel like a cappuccino and croissant at 3am in the morning, no problem.
Ruby Apartments is pitched as a family apartment resort. What family activities are available on-site?
As this is the first of four towers, Ruby Apartments is limited to our on-site Junior Kids’ Club offering daily care of children 0–4 years old, however, while we still have our sister property Paradise Resort, all the activities, entertainment and facilities, including the ice rink, water park, climbing wall, adventure playgrounds and Kids’ Club are easily accessible.
The self-service check-in and check-out is a novel concept, but some guest feedback on TripAdvisor is negative, saying this is a lost opportunity to communicate face-to-face with guests for a personal touch. What is your response to those comments?
The self-check-in is like any new technology, however, with the major airlines, grocery stores and even parking lots all moving totally automated we see this as the future. Whilst there is the option for a totally self-reliant experience, the majority of our guests take full advantage of our Ambassadors who are on standby 24/7 offering a warm welcome and there to assist when and if needed. To be honest, we have found that there is now more time to engage with our guests and less time taken up staring into a computer screen, which is a common experience guests endure during this process.
What is involved with Stages 2, 3 and 4 of the project? The project was initially stated to be completed in 2022, however, Gold Coast media have reported that stages 2, 3 and 4 will now be completed by 2023. Can we get an update on the timeline of delivery for each tower?
This is a big investment and a mammoth task with development and design challenges far greater than initially imagined. We want to get this right the first time, incorporating a first in Australian accommodation with water parks, interactive ropes courses, adventure playgrounds, lazy rivers and themed food and beverage outlets all assimilated into the ground level. To ensure that we not only exceed our guests’ expectations but also provide an experience that will take us way into the future has taken a little longer and a lot more resources. However, we are totally committed to this project and commencing the next stages in the coming months.
How is The Ruby Collection working with the travel trade in Australia? Are you offering wholesale rates, are you bookable via the GDS, offering travel advisor rates so they can experience the product?
It is important to work as a team, not only with the trade but also the attractions, government bodies and fellow accommodation providers. The Gold Coast is the reason that visitors come here and everything that the Gold Coast stands for, whether that be the beaches, the theme parks, the wonderful weather or the hinterland. Our management focus is to work with anyone that assists in making the Gold Coast a success and us along with it. We certainly work with travel trade and offer competitive rates and packages being accessible across all channels, but I think sometimes we get so caught up in what the rate is rather than what the offering and experience is and delivering on a dream.
Final question, and LATTE’s signature question. What is your favourite coffee shop and your ‘go to’ beverage?
Not so much as a “coffee shop” but a morning destination to reflect on the week, relax and catch up on the world is our regular sail to South Stradbroke, a double espresso, a toasted sandwich, sand between our toes and sun on our face while enjoying what Queensland is all about.