Upon reflection, it appeared to be an apples and meat sauce mix… Why would Best Western, a sizeable collection of budget to mid-priced properties want to own an assemblage of quirky boutique properties, frequently in second-tier locales, owned and frequently managed by even quirkier management teams?
WorldHotels’ previous parent was Associated Luxury Hotels who owned the operation for approximately 2 years. Different points of view may have been a motivator for divesting WorldHotels as Associated focuses on meeting services directed to a luxury target market while WorldHotels is interested in increasing global growth for members through corporate and leisure sales.
The purchase of WorldHotels gives Best Western access to up-scale and luxury properties adding a new dimension to the BW profile.
Best Western has never been an exciting guest experience. From locales and interior design, to lobby design, room, F/B outlets, and operations teams – all were adequate but rarely notable and never, in my experience, made it to the “remarkable” level. The Best Western Rewards program was unexciting relative to other hotel opportunities although the gates to reach the rewards were not difficult to open. A major benefit may have been the upper tiers allowing for quicker accumulation of points and the fact that they did not expire.
What is the win for WorldHotels? Based in Frankfurt, Germany, WorldHotels bring more than 300 hotels and resorts, with guests profiled as high-end visitors to the deal with BW offering a strong e-commerce platform, partnerships, a loyalty program, effective sales and marketing support, a global distribution network, and it generates revenue with a commitment to work with hotel executives to improve revenue flow and add properties to the portfolio. Even with the marriage, WorldHotels will maintain its own name and be marketed as a distinct brand. WorldHotels is now able to offer WorldHotels Rewards, the third largest hotel loyalty program counting 42 million guests, and the WorldLuxury Affinity program.
A new relationship requires a new leader, and Gregory Habeeb, an experienced executive in the luxury market space was tapped in 2019 to actively move into this exclusive sphere. Prior to joining WorldHotels, Habeeb was Global Vice President, Hotel and Hospitality for Moton Brown, noted for luxury fragrances and lifestyle products.
As the new President, Habeeb is tasked with growing WorldHotels in North America, focusing on the development of the properties’ Luxury and Elite Collections. He is also responsible for strategic oversight for global hotel development in order to maintain consistency in marketing and sales. To assist in consistency across brands, countries, and culture, Habeeb has engaged Forbes Travel Guide to assure exceptional guest experiences within its Luxury Collection. The program provides professionally trained mystery shoppers to evaluate participating hotels and resorts, identifying the strengths and weaknesses of each property, and making recommendations for opportunities to excel.
According to Habeeb, the contemporary traveler is looking for a luxury travel experience at a unique hotel that will reverberate with their sense of self. To meet this want, and need, WorldHotels properties will focus on design, beginning at the door with unique architectural concepts, and extend through interior design (including fabrics and fixtures) and F/B outlets, offering a consistent experience along each touchpoint.
The Vault Hotel in Sweden (part of WorldHotels Crafted Collection) was formerly a bank and now a 4-star property in an elegant late 19th century building next to Karnan Tower, Stortorget Square, and a short stroll to Helsingborg’s harbor, Helsinborg Central Station and the Hesignborg City Hall.
Crafted Collection properties can also be found in Chicago, IL (Acme Hotel Company); San Francisco (Hotel Bijou), Borrego Springs, CA (La Casa del Zorro); Philadelphia, PA (Warwick Rittenhouse Square); Arnheim, Netherlands (Hotel Haahuis); and in Milan, IT (OD Sweet Duomo).
A few years ago, I was a guest at the Kube Hotel Paris which is definitely a memorable property. Located in the 18 arrondissement (Chapelle quarter known for its Indian convenience stores and kebab restaurants), it is a short walk to public transit and offers an opportunity to enjoy a Parisian neighborhood that is not a tourist mecca. Reception space is truly in a plexi-glass KUBE located in a large space (think parking lot), and the 41 high-tech rooms reflect cutting-edge modern design highlighted by unique furniture that has become classic like the Bubble Chair by Eero Aarnio. The Ice Bar is carved from 25 tons of ice where, at minus ten degrees Celsius, visitors sip vodka-based drinks.
© Dr. Elinor Garely. This copyright article, including photos, may not be reproduced without written permission from the author.