Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Corinthia Hotels

Entrepreneurial Elegance

Embodying a unique beauty, Corinthia Hotels is the hotel of choice for the informed individual who shares their belief that travel is a precious privilege to be welcomed, savoured and cherished. Here, RLI spends some time with company CEO Simon Naudi to discuss the growth and evolution of the business over recent years and its plans for the future.

A story of hard work, entrepreneurial drive and creativity, the Corinthia Hotel business was founded by the Pisani family of Malta in 1962 and now represents timeless and effortless style in some of the world’s greatest cities and locations.

Their first-ever location, the Corinthia Palace, launched in Malta in 1968 and was built in the garden of the family villa. It immediately saw success which led to the arrival of a second and third hotel in Malta before they decided to take the brand international. They began their overseas expansion in Türkiye before moving onto mainland Europe and beyond.

Today Corinthia is a Public Limited Company (PLC) that has three main businesses. Alongside Corinthia Hotels, which is the brand and operating arm of the company, they also have investment and real estate components within the corporation.

“Overall we manage 25 sites; these include hotels that we own as well as hotels owned by third parties. We operate our own as well as increasingly, others owned by our partners,” explains Simon Naudi, CEO of Corinthia Hotels.

Looking to the year ahead, Naudi explains that they have an important year ahead with four new hotels on the horizon. In New York, the company will unveil The Surrey, A Corinthia Hotel in New York in a few months on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and this will launch at the top end of the market.

Meanwhile in Brussels, they are currently restoring a legend of the city, the Grand Hotel Astoria. Acquiring the building in 2016, they are currently finishing up an extensive redevelopment and upon completion by the end of summer it will house 126 bedrooms and suites, feature extensive banqueting, dining and spa facilities and be positioned in the high-end luxury market in Hungary.

They are also preparing to unveil a location in Bucharest, which will be a 30-key all-suite hotel in a grand palatial building, which was originally built as a hotel in 1867. The site is undergoing final renovations before its opening sometime before September. Finally this year they will be opening Corinthia Rome in the heart of the city, which will be a 60-key luxury hotel in the building that was once the Bank of Italy headquarters.

Beyond these, construction is also underway on a number of other projects in Doha, Qatar, Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, the Maldives as well as a new luxury resort hotel in Malta, its home market.

While the Corinthia brand is already an international entity, they would still like to globalise the company further. However Naudi notes that they would like to do this in a very measured and sensible way. They have not set themselves any limits in terms of where they want to go in the future, but ideally they would like to be in key markets, both in cities and resorts, where there is a demand for luxury accommodation.

“In terms of what attracts us to properties, we are well-known in Europe for renovating and operating historic grand buildings from the 19th Century, however it is not the architecture that draws us to particular sites. Ultimately, the most important aspect of a new property is the spirit we can infuse into that operation. We are very much a family-inspired business and we feel our hotels should reflect the local character of the location they are in, rather than just being an additional number in our collection,” Naudi highlights.

As the topic of conversation moves onto sustainability, which is a core component for the group, the CEO comments that they are adopting sustainability practices regardless of sustainability guidelines that are being imposed on the group across Europe. In the last year they have employed a Head of Sustainability and by the end of 2024 they will have finalised all their policies on the subject.

In the last few turbulent years, guest loyalty has taken on even greater importance and Corinthia feel that their guests have remained loyal to the brand because of the guest service on offer to them, along with the amenities offered on-site at each Corinthia hotel. At its heart, Naudi feels loyalty is all about service and the engagement and personalised relationships their guests can find at their hotels.

Over its years of operation, Corinthia Hotels has enjoyed tremendous success and this has been achieved through hard work, energy and drive along with the entrepreneurial vision of the Chairman. Even though the company is a PLC, every member of staff is a member of the Corinthia family, no matter their position in the organisation.

“At the heart of the company remains this very dynamic, family-inspired spirit which we would like to maintain this as our ethos as we continue to grow,” Naudi comments.

As our time runs short with him, we just have time to ask Simon what lies ahead for the business and what comes next?

“This year we are putting our focus on being a brand in the luxury space and we would like to grow our position in this segment around the world. We would also like to take the company in to larger public markets in terms of our listing as a PLC and finally we are aiming to raise more capital in order to own more hotels. So there are a number of strands that we are working on across the globe, not just as operators of hotels but also as owners and developers of hotels, so there is an exciting future ahead,” Naudi concludes.