Le Meridien chief spearheads cool concept
Le Meridien Hotels plans to get a cool image under an Art + Tech concept spearheaded by Juergen Bartels, the chief executive of the international luxury group of hotels and resorts.He aims to fuse a destination's heritage and colour through art with the full trappings of modern technology, and set "new benchmarks" in cool hotels, the group said. The concept is not particularly new. Cool hotels have existed for as long as 20 years. "Milan, Venice and Florence have them. If you line up all the cool hotels, you will have many, except that they are individual boutique hotels or small groupings, with not much marketing power," said Bartels. "We, as a large and powerful chain present in 57 countries, want to occupy the territory of cool hotels." Customer demand for cool hotels and the 20-40 per cent higher rates the market is willing to pay for these rooms has convinced him this is the way to go. Shareholders and owners are largely convinced too. With a budget estimated at £350 million ($518 million) for renovations, he can ensure the new concept can start with a bang. And the plan stays, he says, despite September 11.