Your own chauffeur-driven limousine, personalised business cards, specially curated art collection, staff beds, a private entrance – super suites offering all the comforts of a luxury home represent a new tier of accommodation for uber wealthy travellers.
When one of London’s most exclusive heritage hotels, The Lanesborough, reopened after an 18-month major renovation this summer, it unveiled a new seven-bedroom Alberto Pinto-designed “super suite” complete with spa baths, steam showers, personalised business cards, and the complimentary use of a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce Phantom. The rate? A cool £26,000 to £31,000 (HK$297,000 to HK$354,000) a night.
According to Geoffrey Gelardi, the hotel’s managing director, the new signature suite is part of a wider response across the hotel industry to a growing demand for the experience and service of an exclusive hotel alongside the bespoke comfort and personal touches their guests enjoy at home.
As the name suggests, the new tier of hotel accommodation extends beyond the presidential-style suite that once represented the highest category of hotel accommodation. Luxury in the traditional form of butler service, Italian marble baths, exclusive amenities, and luxurious Egyptian cotton bed linen has become so ubiquitous that a whole new stratosphere of pampering is now required to attract the uber wealthy.
From a design perspective this has translated into interiors that make a special statement with opulent custom-designed furnishings and specially curated art collections but that also comes with a private entrance, additional bedrooms, staff accommodation, a fully stocked library and bar, customised toiletries, and media room featuring games specially “curated” for the guest.
The service side is also super sized with numerous butlers, personal trainers and a chef who can whip up anything from a late night snack to catering for a dinner party for 24.
When super suites first emerged a few years ago many assumed the extravagant concept would predominantly appeal to Middle Eastern travellers wanting to accommodate an extended family and entourage.
Surprisingly, the concept has instead attracted a diverse range of guests including business individuals to make a statement by holding meetings and presentations in a space which everyone recognises is the ultimate in terms of luxury and cost.
“There is no typical guest,” says Gelardi, noting that the Lanesborough’s suite has already accommodated a Scottish couple and an American family, both of whom stayed for several months.
“In the past we have changed all the doorknobs to suit a particular guest”
“We find that families travel in generations nowadays and they all want to be together and have one main living area such as a living room or dining room,” he adds.
“It also gives guests the option of being completely self-sufficient with a fully equipped kitchen, dining area and separate study which allows them to entertain in different areas and have their chefs and other staff continue to work with them.”
In the past, adding adjacent guest rooms addressed the need for more space but not the flexible arrangement that comes from a purpose-designed space that balances privacy, relaxation, business and entertaining.
The added security and privacy has also been a significant factor in its popularity across different cultures, particularly if guests are travelling with children.
“With all the rooms interconnecting it allows guests the freedom to walk through the suite without having to leave it,” Gelardi says. “The living space in the centre unites all of the rooms and acts as a focal point for entertaining while four different entertaining areas are hugely beneficial to parties with different ages.”
With wide ranging tastes from opulent to minimalist how does a hotel recreate that home-away-from-home ambience?
“In the past we have changed all the doorknobs to suit a particular guest, changed the televisions to a particular brand and installed steps up to the baths in the bathrooms,” says Gelardi.
Nearby, the elegantly understated Andre Fu-designed Opus super suite at The Berkeley hotel was also recently similarly redesigned to suit a guest who was keen on a jazz bar environment. The original interiors of Hong Kong-based Fu, with its tasteful onyx, hand-tufted rugs and collection of specially commissioned contemporary art, were reinstated at the end of the guest’s stay.
Meanwhile, other cities are catching on to the trend: New York’s Mark Hotel offers a 12,000 square foot space at US$75,000 per night for its five bedrooms, six bathrooms and conservatory while its dining room accommodates dinner parties of 24 or more.
London, however, remains the capital of the super suite as hotels continue to redefine luxury for their wealthiest guests. The Rosewood’s £12,000-a-night Manor House Suite, for instance, offers its own cinema-style popcorn maker and personalised Smythson stationery. Designed by Tony Chi to look and feel like a private residence, it also sports its own entrance, elevator, plus a full wet bar and wine fridge.
And, if as some suggest, the super suite is simply the hotel industry’s new “mine is bigger than yours” marketing ploy, it may have stolen the show with their unique selling point. The suite is so big, it even has its own postal code.
By Catherine Shaw Courtesy South China Morning Post