We ensure every hotel we open is brand’s crown jewel: Capella’s Dr. Mei Ping

by | 26 Jan 2020 | Experts

Dr. Mei Ping was a delegate at TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR Shanghai in Dec 2019. (Photo by Rahul Venkit)

Every single Capella hotel tells a story. Meet the person responsible for writing the script in China: Dr Mei Ping.

As Chief Representative in China for the Capella Hotel Group since 2014, Dr. Mei Ping has her work cut out.

Dr. Mei is responsible for business development projects for Capella Hotel Group’s China portfolio, and her responsibilities include aligning the company’s brand strategy to the needs of the Chinese market — one of the world’s largest in terms of hotel construction and openings.

A professional architect with a PhD in Art, she is a specialist in luxury property development and has worked as a lead consultant and an owner’s representative in China since 2003. Her signature projects include the Shanghai Tianzifang and Zhujiajiao Ahn Luh luxury hotel.

On the sidelines of TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR Shanghai 2019, Dr Mei spoke exclusively to TOPHOTELNEWS on the experience of developing the Shanghai Capella, her philosophy towards hotel brand standards, and apprehensions of the global luxury hotel market.

Challenge of bringing the Capella brand to Shanghai

Ping: Every single Capella hotel tells a story. In China, I’m responsible for writing the script, not in the least because I have a PhD in Art History in China. Capella Shanghai is a throwback to the particular romance of 1930s Shanghai when it was known as the “oriental Paris”. The hotel artwork reflects this “Silk Road on the Sea” narrative, as does our operation standards.

Shanghai Capella is situated in a French-style historical building from 1923 and is only 45,000 sqm. Most hoteliers wouldn’t touch such a small property but we looked at it and said it was tailor-made for us!

Because the hotel is so small, and the facilities so intimate, we have no banquet hall or swimming pool. Instead, we focus on making the hotel experience unique for each guest. When they come in, the staff asks them the purpose of the trip — business or leisure. Based on that, we work to make the stay unique by sharing the history of the hotel and the whole city of Shanghai.

To maximise revenue, we decided to work on a high-end restaurant. Today, our Michelin-star restaurant is so successful, it contributes to 40 percent of the revenues of the entire hotel.

Current pipeline and strategy of Capella Hotel Group

Ping: Being a family-owned hotel group and operator is our strength — our advantage. Since being acquired by the Kwee family in 2017, we have a total of 17 properties under the group’s various brands. In China, we opened two properties with three more planned by 2021. I think, in the next three to five years, we will almost double our portfolio. Capella hotels are also being built in Bali, Bangkok, the Maldives and Sydney, all to be opened by 2020.

Capella’s strategy is to embark on the cultural landmark project. We prefer city centres to resorts in China because we don’t see many successful resort business in China yet, especially in our sector.

When it comes to brand standards, we believe we should never compromise. Because you want to add more hotels in your portfolio, you cannot lower your standards. That’s not us. We’d rather be slow in our growth, but have every single hotel as a crown jewel we are going to be proud of.

Exercise caution given global economic climate

Ping: I’m very cautious, and very worried, that the luxury and residential market is showing signs of a slowdown around the world. We see lots of redundancies already in big consulting firms. Luxury hospitality is a medium to long-term investment portfolio. Most of us are really cautious about future luxury guests. More than a decade ago, owners and developers wanted to build the most expensive hotel in the world. But now, it’s all about keeping down costs.

THOUGHTS ON TOPHOTELWORLDTOUR

Ping: Fantastic event full of knowledge and networking. I particularly enjoyed our panel discussion and highly recommend the conference to all hotel industry professionals.

Dr Mei Ping 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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