The recent news of LVMH’s acquisition of Caribbean Hotel St. Barth Isle de France, coupled with rumours of intentions to acquire similar properties, is yet a further sign of the luxury behemoths serious intentions in the hospitality sector.
Having already found success with Bvlgari’s hotel offerings in Milan, Bali and more recently London, the LVMH owned brand is scheduled to open a fourth Bvlagri hotel in 2015 in Shanghai. It’s not just hotels however to have caught LVMH’s eye; earlier this year it acquired the famous Milan-based café and confectioners, Pasticceria Confetteria Cova. With franchises already in Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and China LVMH is planning further international expansion for the almost 200 year old brand, TFOL suspects this could mean establishing a presence in emerging luxury markets.
But why hospitality? Clearly one strong reason is the opportunity hospitality provides to envelop consumers in a comprehensive brand experience quite unlike any other environment. When announcing the purchase of Hotel St Barth an LVMH spokesperson clarified saying that the move into hospitality “is a natural extension of LVMH’s activities across the luxury spectrum.” It also revealed that the sector provides another opportunity to integrate and sell complementary LVMH brands.
Founded in 2009 LVMH Hotel Management, under the brand Cheval Blanc, also owns several other hotels in France including Courchevel, St Tropez and is currently working on converting Parisian department store La Samaritaine into a 5 star hotel complete with Spa Givenchy.
LVMH aren’t the only luxury brand however making moves in this area; news of Versace’s acquisition of a new hotel in Macau, as well as recently agreed partnerships with casino operator SJM Holdings to build a hotel-casino in Asia (opening 2015) indicates that other brands are also keen to pursue this strategy. No strangers to the hospitality market, Versace’s hotel portfolio includes two properties in Australia and Dubai. Armani and Missoni too have also branched out in recent years into hotel design and ownership.
There’s no doubt that hospitality offers a unique opportunity for brands to build stronger ties with consumers through memorable experiences. Could this new trend even see the creation of The Ritz of the future?