Q&A WITH FRANK MARRENBACH

By 2008 Frank Marrenbach had already spent 10 years running Brenners Park – Hotel and Spa in Baden Baden. At that point Frank was on the verge of setting up his own hotel company. However, after discussing his plans with the Oetker Group, he received full support to create a better business by staying where he was. So started the Oetker Collection and Frank Marrenbach has been at its helm ever since. We recently had the chance to ask Frank some questions:

What is your definition of luxury?

The concept of luxury is always an emotional one; for a hotel that means making every guest feel as though they are at the center of their surroundings and not simply a spectator on the sidelines. They must feel safe, well taken care of and happy during their stay. This is the first step to creating the ultimate experience for all guests.

For any hotel group, the vital infrastructure of the brand is its people. Strong people attract strong people and success begins with management. Choosing the right management develops the foundation for the future, as management set the tone for the other people involved.

Training is paramount. The best luxury hospitality begins with an ability to read guests’ emotions and therefore anticipate how a guest is most likely to react to any interaction.

What are the characteristics that make Oetker Collection stand out?

We recognize that there are four key elements to building success in our luxury hotels: heritage, craftsmanship, focus and rarity.

Heritage is not to be confused with tradition. While tradition can be lost in time, heritage goes right back to a brand’s roots and shows where it comes from. The Oetker Collection, for example, has a European heritage and this is deeply rooted in the intricacies of each of our hotels.

Craftsmanship is all encompassing. It is in a hotel’s most complex details and specifics that guests often don’t even think about. It is built from a combination of things; from unique restaurant concepts and haute cuisine in the kitchen, to what you receive at the turndown service after returning from a personal training sessions, to what the doorman says on your way out.

Focus means having an understanding of your brand’s defining qualities and restricting changes that move outside the brand profile. You can’t be everyone’s darling and that is why there are so many options for travelers to choose from. Focus means not worrying about losing potential customers, but pleasing and keeping those that already exist. To focus is to generate risk, which is important for the growth of every good business.

Rarity means offering something that is hard to find elsewhere. It doesn’t mean having the most radically different design, cuisine or theme. It means you must have a consistent identity that cannot be replicated elsewhere. An iconic hotel’s identity is never questioned, it is simply known.

Does Oetker Collection need to be ahead of its time?

Even though there is an ever greater desire for luxury, at its heart, the idea of what a luxury experience means doesn’t change. There is no need to completely reinvent the luxury wheel. Instead, the key is to enhance it with a gentle approach. After all, luxury should never shout – it whispers.

What is the vision for the Oetker Collection?

We have been hoteliers since 1923 and started the Collection in 2008 with the objective of adding 10 hotels in the 10 following years. We are pretty much on line with this objective.

However our careful growth strategy is aimed at protecting a portfolio of ‘Masterpiece Hotels’, all unique and irreplaceable. Having ten unique hotels – including the recent openings of The Lanesborough in London, Palacio Tangara in Sao Paulo and of course Jumby Bay Island – is like having ten children, each requiring different treatment and attention. In fact, the brand ‘mantra’ is “individuality together”, and we continue to invest in that individuality. Our future expansion will be linked to major cities around the world as well as outstanding resorts such as Jumby Bay Island.

Carousel images

Image 1 – Frank Marrenbach
Image 2 – Brenners Park Hotel and Spa
Image 3 – Fregate Private Island
Image 4 – Hotel Du Cap Eden-Roc

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