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Alila brand will focus on developing more city centre hotels: Hyatt’s C.J. Liang

by | 02 Feb 2020 | Experts

C.J. Liang was a delegate at TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR Shanghai in Dec 2019. (Photo by Rahul Venkit)

Alila’s advantage in going into city centres is that we know how to make a unique product, says C.J. Liang, Regional Development Vice President​ at Hyatt Hotels Corporation.

Site assessment, investment analysis, market positioning, feasibility studies, planning and ownership management, C.J. Liang has been there and done that.

Liang has been in the hospitality and real estate for 19 years and prior to that, she was the Taiwan Market Director for the world’s leading diamond company De Beers.

Currently, Regional Development Vice President​ at Hyatt Hotels Corporation, Liang was previously the Group Development Director of Two Roads, owner of brand Alila, in Greater China and North Asia.

On the sidelines of TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR Shanghai 2019, Liang spoke exclusively to TOPHOTELNEWS on her love affair with lifestyle hotels and the Alila brand in particular.

On her specialist background with lifestyle hotels

Liang: Since 2015, I worked with Two Roads Hospitality. I opened our China office in Shanghai and there were five brands in the group: Alila Hotels & Resorts, Joie de Vivre, Thompson Hotels, Destination Hotels and tommie. These five brands had one thing in common — lifestyle. So, we were the largest lifestyle hotel operator in the world. We operated 87 hotels around the world, mostly in North America and then in Asia.

When Hyatt acquired Two Roads Hospitality in 2018, Hyatt — as a relatively more standardized hotel operator — felt that lifestyle hotels needed a very different skill set. So by acquiring Two Roads, including Alila, they acquired a whole team of experts, whose sole focus was specialized in the lifestyle segment. I was transferred to the Hyatt group in 2019, so basically I was part of the package.

On her love affair with Alila

Liang: Alila is a wonderful brand. I’ve known them since my first year in hospitality. I met the whole management team back in 2001 when they were operating only two hotels in Bali. But at that time I already thought they were doing such a fantastic job with their philosophy and skill set. In 2015, where the opportunity to work with them presented itself, I grabbed it.

On Alila’s city-centre development focus

Liang: Development wise, operation wise, sales and marketing-wise, it is so difficult to make a very unique product and ask the customer to come to you. Our advantage of going into city centres and building hotels is that we know how to make a unique product. If we stand in the right location, people can see us. With natural footfall, everything becomes a lot easier. We are very good at building the content of a hotel.

Key cities for the Alila brand in the future

Liang: For China, there are only five cities that we will consider: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Chengdu. Chengdu, in fact, has its own, very strong identity as a leisure capital. So, I think it fits Alila quite well.

Thoughts on TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR

Liang: I think it’s an excellent format. We get to spend quality time together. Instead of just exchanging cards, or a hi and bye, you sit down with people. You have time to listen to their story or what they do, what’s important to them. It’s quality time. They make your events very different from others. I think in terms of format, it’s really interesting and it’s quite refreshing.

C.J. Liang was a delegate at TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR Shanghai 2019. To attend, address or sponsor our boutique hospitality networking events around the world in 2020, contact TOPHOTELPROJECTS Head of Global Events & Conferences Kayley van der Velde.

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Alila takes its name from the Sanskrit for ‘surprise’ to create breathtaking, eco-friendly and “surprisingly different” destinations spanning South Asia to the Middle East and integrating the natural, physical and cultural elements of their environments.

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