Oetker Collection is a brand that needs no introduction. Hailing from an illustrious family the philosophy of the luxury hospitality brand is to create real masterpieces despite its very diverse portfolio of hotels, which extends from Sao Paulo to the ski resort in France to the Caribbean. Oetker Collection is an exceptional portfolio of Masterpiece Hotels, Estates and Villas in Europe, the UK, Brazil and the Caribbean. Located in the world’s most desirable destinations, each property is a landmark and an icon of elegance, blending legendary hospitality with a genuine family spirit that is unique to the Oetker Collection. Carrying on a refined legacy in hosting that originated in 1872, the Collection’s mission is to preserve and extend its unparalleled standards through the acquisition and management of one-of-a-kind properties. The current portfolio includes Le Bristol Paris, Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa in Baden-Baden, Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc in Antibes, Château Saint-Martin & Spa in Vence, The Lanesborough in London, L’Apogée Courchevel, Eden Rock - St Barth's, Jumby Bay Island in Antigua, Palácio Tangará in São Paulo, The Woodward in Geneva, and now Hotel La Palma in Capri.
With a predominant presence in Europe, each of the hotels is unique and a great example of craftsmanship, but at the end of the day, they are all characterised by three common ideologies. Ensuring utmost attention to detail, at the core of the Oetker Collection lie three values which are softer, family spirit, elegance and genuine kindness. The brand further plans to expand to newer continents with their newest property coming in the United States at Palm Beach followed by a new opening in Tuscany. We spoke to Timo Gruenert, CEO, of Oetker Collection and Simon Neggers, Senior Vice President, of Sales, Marketing and Communication to get a deeper insight.
While other luxury hotel chains may want to expand their portfolio at a faster pace, Timo Gruenert, CEO, of Oetker Collection reiterated that as a hotel chain, Oetker Collection believes in slow expansion without compromising on its four core pillars and of course, maintaining the right balance while adapting to the new changes. This in turn, helps them deliver high-quality standards across all the hotels. "We have understood that our hotels really should become more authentic, more centred in the community, more individual."
Although the vast portfolio requires them to establish luxury hotels in new cities year after year, the brand works closely with a design team to achieve uniqueness in design best suited to the region. With such a close eye on the finer details, every hotel at Oetker Collection has its own identity. It took about a year and a half to add a new property to their prolific range of hotels. the most recent addition to the hotel chain is the Woodward in Geneva which opened in 2021. Earlier this year Hotel La Palma in Capri was opened, and a year and a half later we can expect their first hotel in the United States, The Vineta Hotel at Palm Beach. Speaking about the low growth pace Timo told us the reason behind the philosophy. "There's a reason why we say we don't go to Shanghai tomorrow or to Delhi for that sense because you need to build up knowledge about the destination. But again, that's an explanation of why slow growth is very important to keep all of this together. You take the accelerator forward, but all this falls apart."
The Post Covid Change
It wouldn't be incorrect to say that the storm the pandemic caused made many rethink their lifestyle, and of course travel took a major hit. With domestic travel and road trips being the preferred vacation choice, another key trend for Timo was sustainability, wellness and multi-generational travel, which we see more and more. He further says, "I would say probably that the experience from COVID to refocus.
We translate that into our formula and we say, luxury is today, spending time with the right people in the right place. This is the ultimate truth that many forgot about."
Touching upon another interesting point e notice, that the strict barrier between work and life got blurred and this had a direct consequence on hotels. The design of rooms is something that Timo and the team take incredibly seriously and they work with some of the best interior designers."This trend is starting to affect how we design the hotel rooms. But the prominence of a desk in a room is becoming less important because people will just sit on the bed or a big chair with their laptop or their iPad. And they prefer actually to have a little table that maybe they can use as a desk, but also as a dining table in a standing room." Thus making functionality a crucial factor. "I think functionality is part of the luxury experience at the end of the day. It needs to be comfortable and a bit homely, this philosophy is perfectly replicated in Hotel Du Cap with such a loyal client turnover. We ask our best customers before making a change, hence making them feel like they own a part of the hotel," shared Simon Neggers.
The hotel rooms are beautiful, stylish and comfortable. A soothing colour palette, and strong aesthetics with a tranquil and calm atmosphere best describe the gems of the Oetker Collection. But now the question is, how do you translate that and achieve this in Sao Paulo, in the ski resort, and on an island in Italy? The credit goes to the partners the firm onboards for each project and the extensive creative process culminates into masterpieces. Timo then highlights that if they would do ten hotels a year, the likelihood that we are getting this wrong would be two times out of ten. But since they do one hotel every one and a half years, they ensure the aesthetics remain a constant.
Hotel La Palma, Capri
Hotel Du Cap Eden Rock
"It's incredible to see how thoughtful design can also truly create a feeling in the overall ambiance. So when you walk in, even though everything is beautifully designed it's thought through, and the first thing that people feel is like this kind of comfort and tranquillity. However, although this worked in Capri, you might do it completely differently in Le Bristol Paris, for example, or in the Caribbean with the much bolder setup," added Timo. What truly makes a hotel or hospitality chain stand out from others is its set of experiences. Be it hotel staff, the hospitality or an experiential. Luxury is one part of it but then offering luxury experiences is another, for that, you need the loyalty of customers.
The Indian Traveller
It is anticipated that the total expenditure made by Indian travellers will soar to $410 billion by 2030 making India the fourth largest global spender. And in the recent past, international tourism has boomed in India. India's tourism industry is experiencing remarkable growth, especially post-pandemic, with travellers spending like never before.
While Indians are globe trotters they do often find themselves in the European region, and we asked the Oetker Collections representative about the statistics of the Indian audience. They said, "It's not large yet in absolute numbers, but it's growing probably with the highest dynamic that we see in the whole collection. It's between two and three per cent that we get from this market today and this absolute number probably doubled from what it was before." But a major of the contribution from the numbers from Indians comes from booking for their top products i.e. the villas. Speaking of villas, the company has a big bag in their portfolio from villas on rentals to private home rents at Eden Rocks St. Bart's with a concierge and chefs to villas in Jumby Bay Island and the challets at L'Apogée Courchevel.
When we look at what's next for Oetker Collection The Vineta Hotel at Palm Beach is opening next year followed by a property most likely in Tuscany, concluded Timo.
A Culinary Journey to The South of France
To celebrate culinary excellence offered at, The Oetker Collection Masterpiece Hotels, they brought to the capital an exquiste lunch 'Riviera Culinary Odyssey." The extraordinary menu was created by Michelin-starred Chef Sébastien Broda, Pastry Chef Lilian Bonnefoi from Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, and Michelin-starred Chef Jean-Luc Lefrançois from Château Saint-Martin & Spa.
The menu showcased the distinct flavours of the South of France and looking at the plate was a dream, almost as though we were transported to the French Riviera. Paired with white wine the five-course meal started with freshly baked baguettes and focaccia bread then moved to the first course which was super fresh textures of celery, Granny Smith apple jelly, herbaceous granité and Norwegian salmon gravlax, pickled cauliflower, citrus ginger gel. Then a bright bowl of green tomato and basil broth with Heirlom tomato ravioli delighted our senses, it was slightly sour and balanced perfectly with the ravioli stuffing. Moving on the the main course, the Artichoke Black truffle, mushroom and hazelnut granola was a visual delight. Layered with flavours of creamy mushroom, potatoes and fresh herbs. Finally, to cleanse the palate we were served green apple and coriander topped with a meringue.
Concluding on a sweet note, the Citrus mille-feuille was the best I ever had; flaky, crunchy, sweet, citrusy and a harmony of flavours that sung on my palate.
The introduction to the hotel chain only made me question when my next visit would be!