Peter French is a busy man. Being the President of the Raffles hotel group is no easy task and even though it involves 24 hour emails and a host of hotel openings to attend, he still took the time to sit down with us and answer our questions for this interview. So thanks Peter! Read on to find out more about the Raffles hotel group, new openings and Mr. French’s personal favorite hotel.
1. Grand Luxury Hotels: The Carlyle in New York, The Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, The Grosvenor House in London… you’ve been involved in the management of some great hotels throughout the years. In your opinion, how do properties in the Raffles group differ from these hotels?
Peter French : All the hotels you have mentioned vary greatly and in the same way Raffles properties vary both within the group and against the mentioned properties. Variances tend entirely to be with the physical style design, size and type of location. What I hope for, is that staff attitudes and warmth and consistent levels of service are the constant.
2. The Raffles group has an impressive number of beautiful landmark buildings across the world, all with a strong sense of place and heritage. Across the properties, is there one you have a strong liking for, and why?
That is a difficult question but I would have to say Raffles Singapore. It has so much depth, heritage and I would say romance about it… it would top my list.
3. The suites and rooms, in the Raffles group have their own identity. The exquisite designs of the Presidential Suite 241 at Le Royal Monceau Paris comes to mind and so do the views from the Raffles Praslin’s Villas. Is there a suite or room from the collection which you favor in particular, and why?
The Ray Charles Suite at Royal Monceau is very special, with its piano music and memorabilia it evokes a very authentic experience. I happen to be a Ray Charles fan which probably has something to do with it.
4. How do you balance this “old world charm” with the tastes of the younger luxury traveller? Or do you find the Raffles formula is appealing across generations.
Surprisingly the “old world charm” seems to be as equally appealing to all generations. Within the FRHI Group, Raffles attracts the youngest audience which given our type of hotels bodes well for our future.
5.You’ve helped to open four hotels in the last two years (Jakarta, Turkey, Indonesia, China) and 4 more are in the pipeline. Is it safe to say you’re the busiest hotelier in the industry right now?
The life of a hotelier seems to get busier by the decade. 30 years ago I dictated all my correspondence in the first hour every day. Now I am responding 24hrs a day.
6. Could you tell us a bit more about your upcoming properties?
Raffles Warsaw is probably the most exciting project currently. Originally built in 1857 it was regarded as the finest hotel in the Russian Empire at the time. Together with the owner, we are restoring the Hotel back to its former glory with some unique Raffles touches. It will reopen in 2017 and we are all greatly looking forward to its relaunch.
Raffles Hotels & Resorts President Mr Peter French
7.Any message you would like to pass on to Grand Luxury Hotel members?
Raffles Hotels’ attract guests from around the world who seek to have a genuine local cultural experience. I am proud to say that our colleagues are exceptional in welcoming guests in their own inimitable charming way. I am always heartened to read our guest comments which in today’s world are so much more public and it always surprises me how deeply engaged our guests are with their experiences. It seems it’s never a sentence or two that describes how much they have enjoyed being at our hotels. We look forward to welcoming many Grand Luxury members over the coming months.