The luxury travel industry veteran who’s currently vice president for luxury brands and brand marketing at marriott international asia pacific tells us how to live our best lives when on vacation
Anyone who wants to spend some hard-earned money on a luxury holiday should speak to Bruce Ryde. He’ll tell you how best to spend it. The vice president for luxury brands and brand marketing at Marriott International Asia Pacific certainly knows a good holiday when he sees one. After all, the man lives and breathes luxury hospitality in his job, managing brand strategy for several Marriott International Luxury Brands including St. Regis, The Ritz-Carlton, Bvlgari, and The Luxury Collection. He tells us about his favourite hotels, and what each luxury hotel room should have to ensure a comfortable and memorable stay.
First off, how do you separate the various Marriott International Luxury Brands and their positioning? For example, how different is St. Regis from The Ritz-Carlton?
St. Regis and The Ritz-Carlton play in the same space, but there are some nuanced differences. The Ritz-Carlton helps guests discover the best of the locale. St. Regis is the destination, offering signature experiences to guests such as Jazz Legend performances. It should be the best hotel at its location.
Of all the brands under Marriott International Luxury Brands, which do you hold closest to your heart, and why?
This is such a tough question. I really do love all our brands. For pure design pleasure, I think that Edition Hotels is amazing with its cool contemporary edge and sublime approach to aesthetics. W Hotels is always a blast to work with – it’s so much fun. And St. Regis has that fabulous New York heritage and sense of style.
How are today’s luxury travellers different from those of yesteryears?
The gen X and gen Y, who are projected to control 75 per cent of luxury spending by 2020, are globetrotters who bring a personal mindset to the notion of luxury. To them, the essence of true luxury is personal fulfilment. There’s a clear and present shift of focus among high-end travellers from ‘what you can do’ to ‘who you can be’ when exploring new destinations.
These modern luxury travellers seek meaningful and purposeful travel experiences that speak to their inner, idealised selves. Personal fulfilment has been a key driver of the ‘transformative travel’ trend, which has been gaining considerable momentum in the last couple of years. It’s not necessarily about returning from a trip as a completely different person, nor does it always refer to a spiritual reckoning or philanthropic undertaking. At its foundation, transformative travel are experiences that help move the traveller along their journey of personal growth.
How does that change how luxury is defined today?
If luxury was once prescribed, today, it is what the guests want it to be. They want to learn how to kite surf at The St. Regis Mauritius, discover the cherry blossom season at The Ritz-Carlton Kyoto, drink Bellinis on the terrace at the iconic Gritti Palace, and go heli-skiing at W Verbier. We are here to challenge the norm and offer such ever-evolving experiences to our clients.
Tell me about your favourite hotel stay and what made it memorable.
I recently stayed at the St. Regis Maldives – one of the most beautifully designed hotels I have seen and the over-water villas and full butler service are designed for a totally peaceful and indulgent escape.
What are three must-haves every hotel room should have?
Good technology, and that includes USB ports by the bed, fantastic music-enabling technology, and a large-screen television with a good selection of entertainment. An excellent in-room dining menu including plenty of healthy options, and fantastic bedding with high thread count linen.