We look behind the scenes of one of the world’s most successful hotel groups to find out how they make every guest, no matter where they are in the world, feel part of something special.
Words: Hannah Lemon
Since launching in 1979, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts has established itself as an international group dedicated to incorporating the unique culture and history of each destination it chooses. From the white sands of the Riviera Maya to prime city hotspots in Washington D.C. and Vancouver, as soon as your foot crosses the threshold, you will be the lucky recipient of impeccable service suited to your every whim and wish. But how is it possible for homely and welcoming details to be implemented by an organisation that spans five continents?
“Since Rosewood’s inception, our guiding philosophy has been A Sense of Place®,” explains Radha Arora, President of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, “which means that we look to the culture and heritage of a destination as inspiration for the experience offered at our properties.” This is particularly evident at Rosewood Luang Prabang, a resort that is located just ten minutes’ drive from the historic city and UNESCO World Heritage Site of its namesake in Laos. Surrounded by thick forest, the meandering Mekong and Nam Khan rivers and thundering waterfalls, you can immediately see why this setting is regarded as sacred.
Rosewood has sensitively and charmingly embraced the traditions of the area. The town is known for its French-Lao architecture, with French colonial villas standing alongside glittering centuries-old Buddhist temples, and this is reflected in the design of Luang Prabang. Inside the resort’s extravagant Hilltop Tents, the interiors feature colours, textiles and patterns used by the area’s indigenous hill tribes, who still inhabit the surrounding wild mountains. While the Waterfall Pool Villas here embrace indoor-outdoor living with rain showers and wooden bathtubs, the Riverside Villas are decked out with vintage furniture hinting at bygone eras of adventurous traders and explorers.
Arora comments: “From engaging local craftsmen and artists during the construction and design stages, to partnering with nearby farmers, ranchers and purveyors, to sourcing the cuisine delivered at our dining outlets, we are thoughtful in our approach to creating one-of-a-kind hotels, resorts and experiences that are truly authentic.”
During your stay here you can try your hand at rice farming, visit an elephant sanctuary, or go for a gentle cruise down the river. Coincide your visit with the Festival of Lights in October and witness Luang Prabang transform into something out of a fairy tale as wax candles gently light up pagodas and hundreds of colourful crepe paper lanterns hang from the windows of local homes. It’s these rare moments that can incite a sense of something greater than the ordinary routine of life with which we can become accustomed.
“As our lives become more hectic, travellers are increasingly focused on physical, emotional and spiritual exploration,” explains Arora. “Understanding this growing need, we are looking forward to launching our first urban outpost of Asaya, our new holistic wellness concept that offers a personalised approach rooted in self-acceptance and self-discovery, at the newly opened Rosewood Hong Kong in January 2020.”
The Asaya Hong Kong is set to be the largest dedicated wellness space in an urban hotel and will offer a haven of calm in a busy and bustling city. Conveniently situated on the Kowloon harbour-front, on a historic site where the city’s future as a global trading hub was first established, it seems that building inner balance has never been more apt. Aware that exploring your true potential isn’t achieved overnight, Asaya can offer you retreats and expert consultation to set you on the right path alongside traditional methods of relaxation such as massages and facials.
Find a new direction through self-reflection in the Emotional Balance therapy series, which can help you express stifled emotions and pursue meaningful relationships. Through a psychological consultation you can also enhance your ability to achieve goals, build a sense of hope and happiness, and learn to deepen your gratitude. Alternative healing comes in the form of Art Therapy, too, which uses storytelling, movement, music, drama and visual arts to foster growth, development, insight and healing.
Rosewood Hong Kong is only one of a host of new Rosewood destinations popping up all over the globe, where you can experience the brand’s innovative, modern and progressive approach to luxury hospitality. “We are very excited to announce two new hotel openings in 2020, including the highly anticipated Rosewood Little Dix Bay set to open in January and our first property in South America, Rosewood São Paulo to open late next year. Beyond our expansion efforts, we are dedicated to offering new services and experiences that respond thoughtfully to the priorities of today’s traveller.”
There are endless ways in which this is achieved at Rosewood Mayakoba, which is built along winding lagoons and a mile-long arc of pristine Caribbean beach nestled just north of the waterfront town Playa del Carmen in Mexico. Inspired by Mayan traditions, this 620-acre, Rainforest Alliance Certified resort blends harmoniously with the natural landscapes and will encourage you to do the same on arrival.
“As a brand, Rosewood has long been dedicated to creating opportunities for guests of all ages to establish a deep and meaningful connection not only with one another, but also with new cultures and destinations around the world,” says Arora. Take the family on a wildlife tour to learn about the abundant flora and fauna, with a particular focus on the rehabilitation and protection of precious sea turtles. Guided by a resident sustainability expert, you and your children can witness the exciting release of nesting sea turtles into the Caribbean Sea and the little ones can indulge in beach games that highlight fun facts about the different native species.
This is in line, as Arora iterates, with “Rosewood Hotels & Resorts’ pledge to ‘Value the Earth’s Resources and Demonstrate Environmental Sensitivity’ at all our properties”. He continues: “Every hotel in the Rosewood collection follows the ‘Verdes Responsibility’ principles, which ensure the respect of each unique setting and environmental sensibilities.”
No more so than at the Ceiba Garden & Kitchen at Rosewood Mayakoba, which pays homage to authentic Mayan cuisine and heritage. The Ceiba tree is in fact one of the Mayan culture’s most sacred symbols, signifying the universe and offering protection, insight and prosperity. You can sit under its ancient branches for a communal meal and enjoy the innovative menu of both classic and modern Mexican dishes created from fresh ingredients direct from the garden. Partnering with local farms and producers, the restaurant encourages you to savour mouth-watering morsels in a sustainable way. Bold regional flavours are enhanced by Chakay Farm lobster, vegetables from Oxkutzcab, salt from Celestun and pineapples and papayas from Bacalar.
Rosewood Mayakoba also supports Centro Educativo K’iin Beh, a school built in 2017 for the children of its employees and local youth, located 15 minutes away and solely financed by friends and family of the resort. More than 200 students receive bilingual, full-time education here at elementary and middle-school level. You can join the school’s group of generous supporters by purchasing stationary supplies such as pencils, paper and markers, or get stuck in with hands-on, on-site projects like reading or computer lessons.
“We feel that true hospitality is found in the strong relationships that we build with our guests, our communities and our associates,” says Arora. “It is this warmth and charm that keeps our guests coming back year after year.”