Olivier Chavy joined the Swiss operator last year. Olivier Chavy joined the Swiss operator last year.

September 2016 marked a change in the global leadership of Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, with Olivier Chavy beginning in the CEO role, taking over from Jean-Gabriel Pérès. The year 2016 was also momentous for the Swiss operator for other reasons. Not only was the new CEO appointed, but the company signed a record number of deals with more than 13 new properties signed, boosting its development pipeline to 33 hotels across Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. Mövenpick also launched a fresh new logo and corporate identity to better reflect its warmth and inherent ‘Swissness’, soon after Chavy assumed leadership.

He tells Hotelier that the hospitality industry is moving at a fast pace. “I have an aggressive perception [about the overall industry]: I think we are shifting from the age of stone to a new era. We are switching slowly but surely from being ‘better than home’ to ‘feels like being home’. It’s a total change of mind-set, and a total change in the way guests consume or book or purchase. Now you are loyal to an experience, you are not loyal to a brand anymore.

“We are in a huge platform of change right now, and on top of that you have the consolidations. The whole landscape is changing.”

We are glad Chavy brings up consolidations, because in a land full of mergers and bolstering brand numbers, Mövenpick is one of the few that has just one brand. Chavy is not fazed by this. He says: “I’m asked every week: why not few more brands? Let me look at the landscape of hospitality… Four Seasons, Shangri-La, Mandarin Oriental, Kempinski, Mövenpick — all those companies have only one brand for one good reason. It’s because the client understands the DNA and what he gets to be a Four Seasons client or what he gets to be a Mövenpick client.”

He continues: “Yes, we are a mono brand. No, we are not frustrated. Yes, we are very proud of it, and we are working very hard to be the best-in-class in the way we operate.”

Chavy, however, doesn’t discount that the operator may consider other brands, but these are not confirmed or planned at this stage. He clarifies: “We might think or look at creating a second brand or acquiring a second brand. But I can tell you today, it will not be a ‘trendy’ brand. I have seen in the last four years many new lifestyle brands. Some of them are trendy, some of them are single unique properties, and some of them will die because by definition, ‘trendy’ as a lifecycle is very short. If we do a second brand, it will be like Mövenpick, it will be a brand for life. It will be a brand that will not cannibalise our current brand. It will be a brand for a different market or for a different business model.”

Mövenpick has, he reveals, been approached in the last few years to be acquired; it has resolutely, but politely, declined such overtures. The operator, however, is not dismissing the possibility of acquiring. Chavy reveals: “We have a very healthy balance sheet, we have zero debt, we have cash, we have an ambition, so we’re looking at opportunities of acquiring right now. We would consider being a consolidator.”

He adds: “We are growing at a fast pace right now, at two new properties per month, and for the last few months we have signed deals every other week. That’s organic growth. But when it makes sense strategically, and when it’s not an ego trophy on the shelves, we will look at it [acquisitions].”

The growth, as Chavy reports, is certainly ramping up. In Dubai alone, where Chavy is based when he’s not travelling for 280 days a year, Mövenpick will add 1,300 rooms in the next two years in the UAE. In the Middle East, currently home to 31 Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts properties with 12 more in the development pipeline, four new management agreements were signed in 2016. They included the Mövenpick Hotel Apartments Al Burj Business Bay, Dubai, UAE and Mövenpick Hotel & Apartments Al Tahlia, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, which are both set to open in 2018. The 550-room Mövenpick Resort Al Marjan Island, Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, has an expected 2019 opening date.

In Africa, where the firm has 25 properties and four more in active development, the company opened the Mövenpick Hotel Mansour Eddahbi Marrakech, with 503 rooms and Morocco’s largest congress centre, last year. It is the firm’s third property in Morocco, with two others located in Casablanca and Tangier. Deals have also been signed for properties in Tunisia, Kenya, Nigeria, and Cote d’Ivoire.

In Asia, where Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts currently operates 11 properties with 20 more in the pipeline, the company signed five new properties, three of which were in Thailand — Mövenpick Residences Ekkamai Bangkok (2017), Mövenpick Resort Khao Yai (2017) and Mövenpick Resort Mai Khao (2018). The company also signed deals for Mövenpick Hotel Khulna, its first property in Bangladesh, and Mövenpick Hotel Quang Binh in Vietnam, both of which are scheduled for 2020. At the same time, the 260-room Mövenpick Siam Hotel Pattaya on Na Jomtien Beach opened for business.

In Europe, the company currently operates 21 properties and will open the 262-key Mövenpick Congress Hotel Stuttgart, Germany, and the 260-key Mövenpick Hotel Basel, Switzerland in 2019.

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