EXCLUSIVE: Fairmont close to signings in Australia

Heritage luxury hospitality brand witnesses unprecedented growth

Mark Willis, CEO Fairmont Hotels & Resorts

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts has not one, but two properties on the horizon in Australia, with announcements for major cities to likely be revealed before the end of the year. One of those is almost certainly Sydney.

Mark Willis, CEO of Fairmont Hotels and Resorts revealed the luxury hotel brand’s intention exclusively with LATTE at Virtuoso Travel Week 2023 last week in Las Vegas.

The expected new signings come as the harked maiden Australian Fairmont property in Far North Queensland stalled. Fairmont Port Douglas was announced in the second half of 2020 and had been slated to debut this year. That $300 million eco-hotel was however rejected by the local council nearly two years ago and remains in doubt.

Commencing as Chief Executive Officer of Fairmont Hotels & Resorts effective 1 October last year, Willis told LATTE the high-end hospitality brand has continued to expand its footprint outside North America since 2016 when it was acquired by Accor. The group has 90 hotels and resorts in operation globally and a further 33 projects in the pipeline slated to open over the next three-to-four years.

The Savoy, a Fairmont Managed Hotel - Savoy Suite

Subscribe to LATTE’s free eNewsletter to keep up to date with everything in the luxury travel industry.

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts has landmark properties across Canada including the iconic Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel and Fairmont Jasper Lodge in the Rockies – alongside locations Chateau Le Chateaux Frontenac in Quebec City and Fairmont Royal York in Toronto, in the east. Of the 90 in the group, around half are in Canada and the United States.

“It’s really interesting to see how the brand has grown outside North America since 2016,” Willis told LATTE at Travel Week.

With 30-plus additional Fairmont hotels to come, the majority of those are ‘rest of the world’ openings. He said the backlog of new openings is a consequence of COVID.

“The brand does super well in the Middle East, Asia, Europe where there are so many flagship Fairmonts,” Willis explained. “The Plaza in New York, the Savoy in London, Peace Hotel in Shanghai, the new landmark property in Qatar.”

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada

“It’s amazing to see the brand repositioning itself at the top end of luxury under a new organisation,” he said, referring to Accor’s strategy to split its business at the start of 2023 between Premium, Midscale and Economy on the one hand, and Luxury and Lifestyle hotels on the other.

“We still have fabulous opportunities for the brand. We’ve signed eight hotels in the past six months,” Willis said.

“I’ve never seen so much interest in the brand since we’ve pulled it out under the Luxury, Lifestyle portfolio.”

“It’s just wonderful to see [the interest], however, we have turned down 25 projects,” he mentioned.

“Normally we go in search of the hotels and agreements. Accor’s structural change has resulted in – for the first time I’ve ever seen – so many people coming to us. Third parties are interested in the brand, and a lot of people at existing hotels are looking to rebrand their hotel into the luxury space and Fairmont is a wonderful heritage brand.”

Before taking the CEO title at Fairmont, Willis was Accor’s CEO for India, Middle East, Africa and Turkey.

“Under a new brand-led organisation we’re really looking to reposition Fairmont. We want to lead that sector. With a third of the brand under development, we can do that,” he said.

Rendering of the proposed Fairmont Port Douglas

Preferring to avoid the topic of Fairmont Port Douglas, LATTE quizzed Willis on future opportunities in Australia. His response:

“Obviously we are looking forward to coming to Australia and we are close to signing an agreement. We’re looking at two fabulous sites. But we are very close.”

Willis suggested an announcement was imminent. “It would have been great to announce it here.”

Pressed about possible locations in Australia, Willis confirmed both properties will be city based.

“It’ll be great for the brand. We are missing in this location, on a global scale. We’re everywhere, but there,” he said, which could be perceived to mean Sydney.

LATTE was a guest of Virtuoso for Virtuoso Travel Week 2023.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

WP to LinkedIn Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com