“Staying very pure” key to Small Luxury Hotels of the World’s success, says regional VP

“Staying very pure” key to Small Luxury Hotels of the World’s success, says regional VP

Travel Weekly went one-on-one with Mark Wong, vice president of Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH) for the Asia Pacific, to chat about innovation, sustainability and the group’s most recent hotel addition in Bhutan.

TW: Let’s start with some big industry news of late – the recent collapses of Thomas Cook and Cox & Kings in Australia and New Zealand. What’s your take?

MW: I think the landscape has changed quite a bit in the travel sector. These very established companies need to innovate or become phased out. A lot of consolidation is happening, and the big tour operators are running in a very old-style model of structured tours. People have become more educated about their travel, about the environment and the way they want to travel. It’s so easy now to jump on a place and get a local guide to do their tours.

TW: How important are agents to SLH?

MW: We haven’t made a move away from travel agents because 80 per cent of our business is still with them. Travel agents are evolving as well and need to continue to be relevant.

TW: What is SLH doing to innovate?

MW: We are investing right now in our digital platform, so by next February we will relaunch our whole consumer site so that people will be able to book multiple destinations and create itineraries with. We are stretching ourselves into the future.

TWHow does SLH compete with the Marriotts and the Hiltons of the world?

MW: I think it’s about staying very pure to who we are. We started 30 years ago next year, but we are still in the niche of small luxury. We haven’t expanded or diluted the brand into sub-categories. Our customers like our type of products and they come to us because of that. Often, they are local and family-owned, which is a different experience. We want to remain independent. We do, however, have a marketing partnership with the Word of Hyatt to expand our network and reach.

TWThe calls for more action on climate change are growing louder across the globe. Hotels have a big carbon footprint, so what is SLH doing to minimise its own?

MW: What we are starting to do right now is to educate our hotels on what they can do individually to minimise their carbon footprint. For example, One of our groups of SLH hotels, AKARYN Hotel Group in Thailand, is the first group in Thailand to go plastic-free. Our sustainable guidelines include the way hotels approach their food sources too, so engaging the local community and providing farm to table is one example of that.

TWWhat are you most proud of right now?

MW: We are first in market in Bhutan, a new destination. Gangtey Lodge offers comfort and luxury in one of the most remote places in the world, and the owners are based out of Melbourne. We are thrilled they have joined our family of hotels.

Latest News

  • Cruise

Cruise Traveller’s new Scottish Highlands cruise tour package

Australian small ship cruising specialist, Cruise Traveller, offers a 20-night land and sea holiday in the UK aboard the Lord of the Glens. The tiny cruise line’s 52-guest boutique vessel, Lord of the Glens, is purpose-built to explore the intricate waterways and lochs of the Scottish Highlands. It boasts a rich, traditional ambience with polished […]

  • Cruise

Celebrity Xcel’s keel-laying ceremony in France, with 2025 inaugural sail planned

Construction has commenced on Celebrity Cruises’ next ship, Celebrity Xcel, with a keel-laying ceremony at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France. An Edge Series ship, Celebrity Xcel will set sail in autumn 2025, with several new yet-to-be-revealed offerings. At the ceremony, Jason Liberty, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean Group (RCG), the parent […]

  • Destinations
  • Tour Operators

Globus unveils nine new independent tours for 2025

Coach touring brand Globus has unveiled nine new independent tours for 2025, from Bangkok to Bali and Abu Dhabi to Nepal. “With Globus Independent tours, our guests are free to enjoy the many benefits of touring, untethered and unscheduled,” APAC head of marketing, Globus family of brands (GFOB), Chris Fundell said. “Providing hand-picked hotel accommodations, […]

  • Hotels

Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group opens Mandarin Oriental Mayfair

The Mandarin Oriental has opened a second property in London, the Mandarin Oriental Mayfair, in the heart of historic Hanover Square. Designed by internationally renowned Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners, the hotel is the first new build in Mayfair in over a decade. Bringing a modern architectural approach to one of London’s most storied squares, […]

  • Hotels

Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort unveils Coral Kids Club

On top of its US$85 million (AU$150m) transformation, Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort’s new Coral Kids Club provides an engaging activity centre for kids. Designed for keiki (children), ages 5-12, the activity centre offers daily cultural workshops with hands-on activities rooted around the Āina Guardian workbook. It was developed by Candes Gentry, co-author of Eat […]

  • Hotels

Minor Hotels announces fourth franchised hotel

Minor Hotels has added to its portfolio of more than 500 hotels in operation after signing Oaks Melbourne on William Suites as its fourth franchised hotel. The 220-room apartment hotel is the third Oaks property signed under a franchise model after the Oaks Toowoomba and Oaks Townsville Metropole. The proven success of these properties highlights […]

  • Destinations

Phuket unveils cutting-edge medical facility

Minor Hotels has announced Layan Life by Anantara, a world-class medical wellness facility that is set to elevate Phuket’s reputation as an international medical wellness destination. The new facility is set across 1,767sqm within the grounds of Anantara Layan Phuket Resort and is set to open in Q3 of this year. It offers a blend […]

  • Events

Out West Piano Fest comes alive in Bathurst

The three-day symphony of the senses comes back to Bathurst, at picturesque Blackdown Farm, as Out West Piano Fest returns 25-27 October. Located just five minutes away from Bathurst NSW is a pastoral heritage, art, and culture. It was also once home to Australian artist, Tim Storrier. The extensive gardens in full spring bloom offer […]

  • Attractions
  • Cruise

Japan in Bloom with Cruise Express

Send clients out to experience the best of the Land of the Rising Sun with Cruise Express and their Japan in Bloom expedition, a 21-night adventure. As interest in Japan hits an all-time high, Cruise Express is pleased to announce its ultimate Japanese bucket list trip. This adventure is geared for Australians wanting to tick […]

  • Road & Rail

Explore Uzbekistan with Golden Eagle Luxury Trains

Golden Eagle Luxury Trains presents an exclusive itinerary to Uzbekistan with ensuite cabins, a personal cabin attendant, and off-train excursions. Travelling aboard the opulent Golden Eagle train, with ensuite cabins, guests will dive deep into Uzbekistan’s spectacularly global cultural identity. A personal cabin attendant, all porterage and gratuities and all off train excursions are included […]