Langham Hospitality sets an aggressive U.S. expansion plan

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Langham Hospitality Group, a high-end, Hong Kong-based hotelier, will broaden its North American inventory by 60% within the next three years with a combination of historical and modern luxury properties.

Its current U.S. holdings are luxury properties such as the 3-year-old Langham Chicago and the 101-year-old Langham Huntington in Pasadena, Calif.

Known for its pink logo and ginger-flower-scented lobbies, Langham will enter the U.S. Southwest in 2018 with a newly built property in Frisco, Texas, about 30 miles north of Dallas, and the reopening of Santa Fe, N.M.'s historical Bishop's Lodge, which opened as a resort in the 1920s.

Frisco's Langham Place Wade Park, which will be part of a $1.6 billion mixed-use project, will feature 250 rooms, including two 2,900-square-foot presidential suites, and will include amenities such as a rooftop deck and a courtyard that can be used for special events.

The Santa Fe site will be Langham's first resort property in the U.S. It sits on 317 acres and will offer 139 rooms as well as private stables for horseback excursions through the Sangre de Cristo foothills.

The following year, the company will make its San Francisco debut with the Langham Place San Francisco, part of the $4.5 billion Transbay Transit Center being constructed downtown. The 205-room hotel, which will be designed by renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano, will include a top-floor bar and roof garden as well as a 2,150-square-foot presidential suite and a Chuan Body & Soul spa.

The new properties reflect Langham's efforts to infuse its service standards in both historical and modern properties. The company operates the century-old Langham Huntington, while overseeing the Langham Chicago, which opened in 2013 in a skyscraper built in 1973. That 268-room property was recognized last year as the top U.S. hotel in TripAdvisor's Travelers Choice Awards.

"We have a lot of experience with honoring the history of historical properties while still staying true to our brand standards," Langham Hospitality CEO Robert Warman said.

For example, he said, the company will "embrace what the Bishop's Lodge represents for the Santa Fe community and for the travelers who want to continue creating memories at that resort, while also imbuing our service standards and attention to detail, which we think will be appreciated by everyone."

Founded with the 1865 opening of the Langham London, the company raised about $550 million in a Hong Kong IPO in 2013, then the following year said it looked to expand from 22 hotels to about 100 by 2019 by combining its Langham and Langham Place brands (it currently has 26 properties worldwide). Langham's North American operations also include properties in Boston, New York and Toronto.

Langham reached out to a broader audience last year by debuting its Cordis lifestyle brand at what had been the Langham Place Mong Kok Hong Kong. Among that hotel's amenities are smartphones in each room and a rooftop pool that features piped-in music that can be heard underwater.

Langham competes in a luxury lodging sector where larger players such as Hilton Worldwide and Rosewood Hotels & Resorts have been expanding aggressively to capture a greater share of increased spending by higher-end travelers.

Despite the intense competition, Warman said he was confident the company will more than hold its own while meeting its expansion goal. Langham has signed agreements for 20 properties, and it also has "20 or so more in the pipeline."

"What really captivates our guests and unifies all of our hotels in the Langham Hotels & Resorts brand is a balance of service that is not too aggressive but is intuitive and memorable," Warman said. "Those other companies may be getting bigger, but they don't have a bigger influence than we have on the consumer."

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