With a legendary history spanning more than 150 years, Langham Hotels & Resorts continues to chart global growth in the luxury segment around the world even amidst a time of upheaval. “We’ve been around for some time and have great historical DNA,” says Bob van den Oord, managing director, The Langham London & Regional Vice President, Operations – Europe, Middle East & North America, who was in Toronto recently as part of a North-American tour. “We were the first European hotel to be purposely built to have elevators and running water,” he boasts, referring to the company’s storied history at its flagship London property, where he also serves as managing director.
With Asian owners committed to keeping the brand front and centre, Langham has poured millions of dollars into many of its North American properties. It recently re-opened the Boston location after a two-year transformation that cost $180 million to re-invent the popular hotel into an American classic. It’s also expanded its footprint in China, Australia, and New Zealand. Since 2019, the company boasts small residence in Europe, which sits adjacent to a porcelain factory in Munich, Germany and in 2023, it will open a second hotel in Venice on Murano Island, which will be outfitted by the best architects and designers in the world. “Langham and Cortis are the two brands, which are growing the fastest around the world,” says van den Oord. With several hotels in Asia and the Pacific Rim, the company is set to open a new Langham hotel on the beach on the Gold Coast of Australia.
Boasting 27 hotel properties around the Langham Hospitality Group includes the luxe brand Langham Hotels & Resorts, the Cordis, as well as the Chelsea Hotel Toronto. The company has achieved great critical acclaim around the globe.
Van den Oord has been involved in all aspects of managing successful hotels in major cities around the world for 23 years. While at the flagship London property, the affable hotelier managed to grow the hotel’s revenues significantly on an annual basis, while bringing to reality the modern “pub luxe” concept and introducing a popular cooking school, all the while overseeing the hotel’s major renovation program.
Closer to home, the Chelsea Hotel Toronto remains the company’s lone Canadian property but it also represents its largest property with an inventory of 1,500 rooms, and is the largest hotel in Canada. “It didn’t really fit any of the brands we currently have,” explained van den Oord, “it’s a standalone white label brand so to speak. We recently started a renovation of our rooms here; we’ve just completed 300 rooms, and we hope to continue that same theme for another 300 rooms and continue with that program.” The company is also making changes to the lobby. “There’s a nice lobby bar there, but we’d like to just put some new life in and make that the central point of the arrival experience.”
Van den Oord says the company would love to be in Canada. “We looked at Toronto for a Langham and we’ve looked at Vancouver as well. With our footprint in the U.S., …Canada would be a natural addition for us to have in the portfolio but it has to be the right location and it has to be the right fit and it has to make commercial sense.”
Asked how Langham has managed to resonate with consumers, while achieving success in the luxury space, van den Oord says it’s the company ability to meld its historic British roots and focus on details with its strong Asian management background (the company is based in Hong Kong) that has allowed it “to deliver something unique and to do it well.”