By Sharon Hirschowitz
Christian Glauser Benz heads up the expansion of Dream Hotels across all regions with a focus on the South-East US, Latin America, and the Caribbean. The brand is pushing the boundaries of guest experience, incorporating so many of the much talked about hotel trends and focusing on the guest, their journey, and their dream.
Dream Hotels are expanding across the US, Maldives, and Doha, with plans to open nine hotels by 2020. Can you tell us about the brand vision for the next few years?
Dream Hotel Group has 16 hotels open today and a robust pipeline of 26 additional properties, including these nine new locations, which, when open, are expected to bring the company’s total property and room count to 42 and 10,034, respectively.
These nine new developments are a testament to the strength of our brands. We have had another record year of strategic growth momentum for the group and are finding that our lifestyle brands are resonating well in both established and emerging destinations. Every step into a new market demonstrates our unwavering commitment to forging new and enriching partnerships with potential owners and developers across the globe.
Newly signed locations include primary and secondary markets around the world—from Dallas to Delhi, Upstate New York to Vietnam, the Maldives to the Dominican Republic—and represent close to $2 billion in new hotel developments, all with independent development partners.
This robust growth also follows the highly anticipated launch of Dream Hotel Group’s newest lifestyle brand, Unscripted, which is on track to become the fastest-growing new brand in the company’s history. A new hospitality concept for the progressive creative traveler, Unscripted opened its first location in Durham, North Carolina in July 2017.
Who are your guests? How do you interact with them?
Our guests tend to be folks who appreciate exploring cities while staying in a hotel that serves them as a platform that helps them enhance the way they can experience that same place they are visiting. We craft our properties to offer more than just a bed and a shower; we like to bring the local neighborhood and flavor into each of our hotels. We find that our brands not only appeal to millennials, creatives and young professionals, but also to older folks who want something different, a place that can entice their senses and a place that can draw them to explore new foods and flavors, or to get new experiences from the ones they would typically get in a regular hotel. Our guest’s visions are aligned with ours, therefore the interaction is organic and never feels forced, we like to keep things authentic and fresh, and so do they. We are constantly evolving and we do it because our guests are evolving too. In most cases, we get the cue from them, but then we develop it into a full concept, we make them part of this process.
How do your dining and nightlife add to the experience menu?
We don’t see dining or nightlife as an add-on to a room, instead, we see them as integral elements or pillars of our vision for what hospitality has to be. The word hospitality comes from the Latin word “Hospes”, which means “Host” and as any good host would do, we take care of our guests by giving them a full experience. Food happens to be the center of how we humans socialize, it’s the seed for societal relationships. It’s a very primitive concept that we feel has been lost all along the way. We see our hotels as social platforms for human interaction, especially in today’s hyper-connected world, one that’s filled with overly disconnected humans. Our F&B is crafted in very unique ways; each location yields a different vibe and caters to a specific crowd. We don’t believe in repetition or standardization. Guests as well as locals like places that exude a fresh hyper-local energy.
How have you crafted an experience that locals and travelers desire?
Every time we enter a new market we spend a lot of time and energy studying and researching that market and understanding what works and what doesn’t work, what is lacking and what is overly offered. Appealing to locals has a lot to do with how you take what works there and piece it apart to understand why it works, then putting those pieces back together in a different fashion while infusing your own personal touch is what makes that same F&B concept suddenly feel sexy and relevant again. Both, out of towners and locals will appreciate a destination that can offer a local flavor with a global touch.
What role does local produce play in your menus?
We are big believers in sourcing local, sustainable products. This is represented in the vendors that we tend to choose to purchase from and the relationships we create within the culinary community of a given region. We will buy some of our produce and meats directly from the local Farmer’s Market and will tailor our menus to take advantage of that given local produce. For example, we are currently working on an ocean waterfront property and we wanted to bring the traditional seafood recipes into our menu. The fish is sourced locally and the ingredients are seasonal as well. We want our kitchens to be an evolving food laboratory that’s ever changing with the seasons.