How to successfully relaunch a hotel: The Royal Savoy Lausanne

EHL Students - Bachelor | 29 Apr, 2016

Real estate rules and regulations have become more and more strict and complex in the past few years. Thus, both individuals and leading hospitality group looking for new opportunities in the industry, seem more interested in relaunching existing assets than developing properties from scratch.

Of all European hotel real estate markets, Switzerland is probably the least transparent and the one with highest barriers to entry. Over the last few years in fact, there have been very few reported hotel transactions, the details of which were mostly kept confidential. Additionally, as available properties are limited, prices for hotels tend to be very high in cities such as Zurich, Geneva and Lausanne.

However, this does not discourage investors who seek trophy and good quality assets in a strong and stable environment. This was the case of Katara Hospitality, which bought The Hotel Royal Savoy Lausanne in 2008. Mr. Hamad Abdulla Al-Mulla, Chief Executive Officer and Board Member of Katara Hospitality, said: “The Royal Hotel Savoy perfectly complements our international portfolio of iconic hotels as it represents both a rich heritage and a shining future”.

Mr. Alain Kropf, General Manager and EHL Alumni shares with us his vision and challenges on the iconic property re-launch.

Our main objective, after over 5 years of refurbishments, was to develop a different strategic positioning in comparison with the other 4 and 5 stars hotels on the Lausanne market. In short, a contemporary yet accessible luxury.

Hotel Royal Savoy Lausanne

Opened in 1906, the Hotel Royal Savoy Lausanne is an unmistakable iconic building at the heart of Lausanne. As well as being an Art Nouveau landmark, this outstanding building displays Neo-Baroque elements in its crowned turrets. This rare architectural heritage and its iconic gate is actually listed as historic monument and has always attracted the aristocracy and celebrities like the Royal Family of Spain, the King of Thailand, and even the Brazilian football legend, Pelé.

With the owners’ cash injection of over CHF 100 million, the hotel has been completely stripped and refurbished, while a new contemporary building was laid out on the park’s south side: the Garden Wing. This new and contrasting building supplements the establishment’s offer, with 95 rooms and suites, a 347 m2 Penthouse on the top floor and a 1,500 m2 Spa on the garden level.

Hotel Royal Savoy Lausanne

The 101 rooms and suites of the historic building have been refurbished in keeping with the hotel’s architectural heritage, to combine comfort and modern amenities. Each room has its own special features, with contemporary lighting design and polished wooden floors to further enhancing their charm. The destination of several hotel areas has been completely reinvented. The attic maid bedrooms on the 6th floor have for example been turned into delightful bedrooms and suites.

The Royal Salon, the hotel’s former restaurant, has been turned into one of the most beautiful event venue in the area, completed with a private entrance and detached from the hotel.

The Royal Savoy now provides a modern take on the traditional French brasserie cuisine, where noble and local products play the main part. To add flavor to this high-end brasserie concept, we have joined forces with triple Michelin starred chef Marc Haeberlin, assisted by one of his former apprentices at Auberge de l’Ill and the establishment’s chief executive Julien Krauss.

On their way to La Brasserie du Royal, our guests will walk through the “Corridor of the senses”. This impressive thoroughfare is an unprecedented showcase of local products. Wines, delicatessen, cheeses and cuts of ageing meat are displayed. On the floor, a mosaic highlights the winemaking regional tradition of our Canton de Vaud and its 8 Protected Designation of Origin wines.

 

Hotel Royal Savoy Lausanne

We built state-of-the-art amenities to meet the most challenging requests. We offer meeting infrastructure with the latest technical equipment and natural daylight, and a 1,500 m2 Spa, that aims to be a heaven for well-being. Our partners La Clinic Lémanic, La Vallée, Biologique Recherche et Aromatheraphy Associates help us deliver a premium service.

Hotel Royal Savoy Lausanne

On a refurbishment programme of such scale, the team of architects was faced with several technical challenges. All the concrete slabs had to be reinforced to sustain pressures up to 300kg/m2, the modern weight norm on today’s building sites. Back in 1906, there were actually only 3 shared bathrooms per floor.

During the façade's clean-up, workers uncovered a marvelous mosaic strip under the plasterwork. Specialized craftsmen were tasked to restore the mosaic to its former glory, highlighting again the hotel’s outstanding heritage. Achieving a competitive advantage through diversification is certainly not an easy thing in the hospitality industry. However, a hotel can set itself apart from other competitors by showing the guests exactly how much it has to offer and how unique it is.

Our main and truly special point about the Royal Savoy Lausanne is our staff. We really want our staff to feel comfortable being themselves, love their job, and work with passion every day. We wish to offer every guest a 5-star service without the dose of pretentiousness or ostentation.

 

Author: Paola Bellia, EHL Bachelor Student

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