Words: Kate Springer; Images: Abdela Igmirien
The general manager of long-stay accommodation K11 ARTUS – set to open this summer – talks about how to stand out from the crowd in the luxury hotel sector
Over the past year, it seems like Hong Kong’s luxury hotel market has exploded. First came The Murray in 2018, then Rosewood Hong Kong and The St Regis Hong Kong just last month. Coming up this summer, yet another will join the scene: K11 ARTUS.
A “residence concept” – a blend of serviced apartments and a hotel – K11 ARTUS sits on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront right beside the newly renovated Avenue of the Stars. It’s linked with the US$2.6 billion Victoria Dockside development, a new arts and design district that’s also home to the new K11 ATELIER office tower, Rosewood Hong Kong and the soon-to-come “museum-retail concept” K11 MUSEA.
Inspired by the intimate salons of yore, K11 ARTUS is all about creativity, art and exchanging new ideas. And that’s why general manager Christopher Sommers is the best fit for the job. His 17-year career has taken him from humble beginnings as a dishwasher in Florida to senior management positions with luxury hotels all over the globe. Most recently, he worked with The Ritz-Carlton Hotels group, opening new properties in Haikou, Tianjin, Kyoto and elsewhere.
“Unlike at existing properties where you’re handed a brand book, we’ve had a chance to start from scratch. We’re writing the book!” Sommers says. “We’re solving problems and brainstorming new solutions every day. This is the most entrepreneurial I’ve ever felt.”
Given the crowded luxury market in Hong Kong, Sommers says high-end accommodations must find new ways to stand out from the crowd – be it through art, entertainment, dining, unique experiences or a mix of the above. “The K11 brand is well established and Victoria Dockside will be the next destination in Hong Kong everyone will know about,” he says. “We’re tying the property into this cultural ecosystem. With K11 MUSEA right beneath us, our guests can immerse themselves in the district’s theatre, art and entertainment.”
Designed by award-winning New York architectural studio Kohn Pedersen Fox, the 14-storey tower is completely asymmetrical. Every level has a different floor plan, resulting in an undulating structure that appears to mimic the soft currents of the harbour. These unique blueprints also mean that the 287 luxury residences all have different layouts and personalities; about 60% will feature harbour views.
Hotels targeting short-term, budget-conscious travellers typically offer a higher proportion of standard guestrooms, with the goal of driving high occupancy rates and boosting revenues. But K11 ARTUS aims to entice high-spending corporates seeking long-stay accommodation. An impressive 80% of the offering is comprised of suites, with the rest being standard rooms. “The idea is that you have space – you can have people over to your suite and share the environment,” Sommers says. “ARTUS will set itself apart by being a luxury home for our guests – and make them feel like they are part of a community.”
The brand’s decision to target long-stay guests is informed by market trends. Extended-stay accommodations are the fastest-growing segment in the industry, having experienced 30% growth over the past six years, according to a recent report by real estate investment firm Jones Lang Lasalle. Several macro factors fuel the trend: globalisation, increases in business travel and a desire for “home-style travel accommodations”, according to the report.
To carve a niche for itself, K11 ARTUS has its eye on top-tier executives. “We’re focused on the luxury traveller who is looking for the inspirational, for experiences that reflect their values,” Sommers shares.
On a hard-hat tour, we duck into the busy construction site to check out a three-bedroom showroom. Designed by acclaimed Hong Kong talent André Fu and his studio AFSO, the interiors recall an artist’s home, peppered with eclectic treasures seemingly snapped up while trotting around exotic locales. There are glass balls by the mantle, etched tribal-print stonework, Mid-Century Modern leather chairs and more. “There’s inspiration from Indonesia, India, Marrakesh and lots of geometric details throughout the suites. It’s designed with world travellers in mind,” Sommers says.
Though it’s too early to see how the public areas will come together, Sommers says it’s safe to expect large open spaces where guests can socialise or do business. “André Fu created a place that’s inspired by salon culture, where a host invites people over not only to entertain them, but also to share new ideas and enrich their lives.”
Find out more about K11 ARTUS at artus.com.hk.
Hong Kong’s hotel scene by the numbers
Number of hotel guest rooms, as of end 2018
1214 Hong Kong dollars
Average revenue per available room
Hotel room occupancy as of January 2019