Since May 2020, Dr Timo Gruenert is the new Managing Director of Oetker Collection. Oetker Collection has an exclusive portfolio of Masterpiece hotels, estates and villas in some of the most attractive locations around the world. The current portfolio includes Le Bristol Paris, Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa in Baden-Baden, Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc in Antibes, Château Saint-Martin & Spa in Vence, The Lanesborough London, L’Apogée Courchevel, Eden Rock- St Barths, Jumby Bay Island in Antigua, Palácio Tangará in São Paulo and more than 150 villas and private estates around the world. In November 2020, the group announced the opening of its 10th Masterpiece hotel in Geneva, The Woodward, and today Oetker Collection has just declared another Masterpiece hotel in Capri. What great news in these difficult times to shed some light on the travel industry. Let’s take some ideas from Dr Timo Gruenert.
Oetker Collection has announced a sublime 10th Masterpiece hotel in Geneva, The Woodward, which will open at the start of the summer, what can you tell us about this new property?
The Woodward will be the first all-suite hotel in Geneva when it officially opens this summer. Located on the beautiful shores of Lake Geneva, we are currently finalizing a meticulous transformation of the hotel, led by world-renowned architect Pierre-Yves Rochon. The Woodward is located in a post-Haussmann-style building dating from 1901, right on Quai Wilson across from the marina, and almost all of the 26 suites offer panoramic views of Mont Blanc. Beyond its historic facade, guests will discover classic and contemporary interiors, providing an elegant urban sanctuary. There will be exciting culinary experiences including L’Atelier by Joël Robuchon and Le Jardinier, both Michelin star recipients in their New York outposts. True to Oetker Collection’s commitment to wellness, The Woodward will include Le Spa Guerlain at The Woodward, which will offer the brand’s signature treatments, and a 21-meter swimming pool, the longest indoor pool in Geneva.
Why did you decide to open a property in Geneva?
Geneva is at an international crossroads and a destination frequented by many of our collection guests. It is at the center of iconic Swiss exports, such as fine jewelry, luxury watches and high-end craftsmanship, and at the same time a thriving heart for business and international relations. It is also the ideal stopover for a visit to L’Apogée, our ski hotel in Courchevel.
Today, February 23, Oetker Collection announces a new Masterpiece Hotel in Capri, what can you tell us about it?
Together with our owner partners, Reuben Brothers, we will transform and reinvent Hotel La Palma, the first and oldest hotel on the island, which dates back to the beginning of the 19th century, into a true masterpiece in the heart from the lively village of Capri. When it opened in 1822, Hotel La Palma was known as Locanda Pagano and the original owner, Giuseppe Pagano, often hosted travelers to his villa for the sake of long conversations. Located a short walk from the famous La Piazzetta, its guests were often artists, poets, writers, painters and musicians, many of whom showed their gratitude by painting the walls, writing poems and singing songs in what has been nicknamed “ the artists’ hotel ”. . A collective of creatives began to gather from all over the world, inspired by the genius loci, charmed by the soft and familiar atmosphere of this eccentric hotel. Today, our goal is to offer our guests the same warm Italian welcome when the hotel reopens its doors and to bring to life the authentic and timeless hospitality for which the Oetker Collection is known.
Hotel La Palma is located in the city center, just above the legendary Taverna Anema e Core, a famous nightclub frequented by celebrities, which also belongs to Reuben Brothers and is part of the same premises. The interiors of the property will be transformed by two renowned companies: Delogu Architects, based in Rome, who leads the design work of the rooms and public spaces, and Tihany Design, one of the world’s leading hotel designers, in charge of restaurant, pool, spa and beach. club.
Why has Oetker Collection chosen Italy and Capri to open a new property?
As we seek to carefully develop Oetker Collection, we seek out destinations that we know our customers enjoy and frequent. Capri is located right next to Cap d’Antibes, Saint-Barthélemy and Courchevel, all of the places where we currently have the beautiful Oetker collection. We were patiently waiting for the right opportunity in Italy to come and open our first hotel in this wonderful country, and I couldn’t think of a place more inspiring than Capri. Hotel La Palma will pay homage to ‘La Dolce Vita’ and the heritage of this iconic island, and is sure to be once again at the epicenter of the island’s vibrant social scene.
Hotel openings bring such positive energy and hope in these difficult times, how do you see the future of travel?
It is important during these times to continue to look to the future. As I address so many of our customers and partners, one message is loud and clear: Everyone counts the days until they can travel again and return to our hotels around the world. What this period thought to me is that qualities like sincerity and genuine kindness will gain in value, and that building genuine and meaningful connections will be at the heart of it all. I believe the desire for travel experiences to reconnect with family and friends, and with nature, will be stronger than ever.
What are the biggest challenges for the industry over the next two years?
From my perspective, the industry has experienced some forms of excess in the past few years, before COVID-19. Growth has become the number one priority for most brands, including those in the luxury segment. I’m not sure this is necessarily a good development, especially for travelers, whose interests should be the primary concern of everyone in the hospitality industry. Interestingly, next to these massive growth strategies, everyone used the same words: creating experiences, focusing on the guest, authenticity, etc. I frankly don’t know how this can work together, and I think in a lot of cases it doesn’t. Guests can tell if a smile is from the heart or from a playbook, and if people consider it their job to serve, or if they really care. Find hoteliers who have real passion, those we call ‘choice hosts’, and create a culture in which these team members feel comfortable, inspired and empowered and, as a result, creating meaningful connections for our customers, will be the biggest and most rewarding challenge for years to come.
What is your current vision and what are your goals for Oetker Collection?
I would like Oetker Collection to be known and respected for our sincere focus on extraordinary hotels, all true masterpieces, and for being true to our values: family spirit, elegance and genuine kindness. This rare combination of quality and attitude is what this company and all of its hotels stand for, and I believe that is why many of our esteemed guests see our hotels almost as an extension of their home. We know because they tell us. With that said, we will seek opportunities to carefully develop our hotel portfolio, but only if we are able to find properties that can live up to Eden Rock-St. Barths, Jumby Bay Island, Hôtel Le Bristol, Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc and so on… not an easy task, but certainly rewarding!