Hilton’s LXR Boss: How to Stand Out Among Luxury Hotels

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Hilton’s small LXR brand is enjoying a growth spurt this year as it aims to appeal to a new breed of luxury travelers.

LXR is a Hilton brand with 14 luxury hotels and resorts. Last week, Hilton announced a deal for an LXR resort in Saudi Arabia, and it has seven other properties in its pipeline worldwide.

To learn more about LXR’s expansion, I spoke with its global head, Feisal Jaffer.

LXR’s backstory

  • Hilton created LXR in 2018 as a soft brand. Soft brands avoid dictating specifications for decor and operations that hard brands (like Hilton’s Waldorf-Astoria) do. Yet they let owners enjoy a global hotel company’s loyalty program, volume discounts with procurement, and other back-office advantages.
6th Floor Ka Laʻi Waikīkī Beach, LXR Hotels & Resorts source hilton
Interior view of the 6th Floor Ka Laʻi Waikīkī Beach, LXR Hotels & Resorts. Source: Hilton.

Who is LXR’s target customer?

LXR aims to appeal to an emerging customer type that Hilton calls “the intrigued traveler.”

  • These travelers look for authentic experiences and seek properties that showcase a destination and provide personalized luxury services. They are relatively less interested in signaling status with brand names or being dressed in particular ways or having a velvet rope experience, Jaffer said.
  • LXR aims to help these travelers with “the timeless pursuit of personal adventure.” Each property is meant to tell a story and give a richer sense of a locale.
  • High-touch luxury service is also key. “For example, we’ve been fine-tuning our kids’ experience,” Jaffer said. “The hotel reaches out to a family before arrival to ask what their kids are interested in, and if it’s creating a certain type of art, maybe we’ll create an art-themed activity that’s relevant to the local culture. If the kid likes ice cream, can we offer ice cream with a local ingredient?”
exterior of Grand Hotel Gardone Lake Garda, LXR Hotels & Resorts  Riviera, Italy source hilton lxr luxury hotels
Exterior of Italy’s Grand Hotel Gardone Lake Garda, which will by 2026 join LXR Hotels & Resorts after a renovation. Source: Hilton.

What does LXR offer hotel owners?

  • Owner requests run along a spectrum. Some want a re-imagining of their properties, while others don’t. Some want entirely new ground-up construction.
  • Hilton suggests renovations and operational changes for owners looking to reincarnate their hotels to appeal to the “intrigued adventurer” customer type. It may hire a designer, a cultural consultant, and a brand marketer to help update a property’s identity. The buyer of the Trump International Waikiki tapped Hilton to help re-envision the Oahu property, which claimed the new name of Ka La’i Waikīkī Beach last month. A renovation next year will do a full reimagining.
  • “We then weave that identity through the design, architecture, and artwork, but also in how guests are taken to their room, how the turndown service is conducted,” Jaffer said.
  • “We added Umana Bali last November, for instance,” Jaffer said. “We introduced the option for guests to visit a Balinese village where a guide explains the flora and fauna, the temples and bazaars. A guest can go to a Balinese person’s house and eat a meal there.”
  • Yet LXR does have some brand standards owners have to adhere to. “There must be turndown service, 24-hour room service, a full-service restaurant, and so on,” Jaffer said. “Hilton is sort of fanatical that each of its brands represents a specific positioning to appeal to a specific audience, and these standards help achieve that.”
  • “When you stay at a Waldorf-Astoria, you’re having an experience through that framework,” Jaffer said. “When you stay at an LXR, it’s not LXR”s framework, it’s the framework of the individual property, such as Ka La’i Waikīkī Beach.”
  • The brand is engaged in “about 20 serious conversations with owners” for opening more LXRs, Jaffer said.

What do you think? Tell me. I’m at [email protected] and on LinkedIn.

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