Trade Talk: Nicholas Clayton of Capella Hotel Group

A Q&A with the company’s CEO about its ultra-luxe properties in the pipeline and the upcoming Patina brand.

All photos courtesy of Capella Hotel Group.

A great proportion of our readers are based in Singapore. What new experiences are being offered at Capella’s flagship on Sentosa to satisfy the local desire to travel?

Since staycations resumed in mid-July, Capella Singapore’s creative team of Culturists have been busy curating a series of on-property activities—known as Capella Moments—to allow local residents to discover another side of Singapore. Our Little Stars are kept busy with baking masterclasses and cultural crafts workshops, before bonding with their parents during family yoga and a Boba milk tea class. It is a known fact that Singaporeans enjoy a gastronomy sojourn. At Capella Singapore, they can discover the history of rum during an appreciation workshop as well as the art of making dim sum. These experiences are reimagined regularly, so guests can look forward to a new and unexpected stay experience each time.

 

Looking elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region, are there early signs of recovery at certain Capella hotels? For instance, those in Shanghai and Sanya?

We are fortunate that many of our Capella Hotel Group properties, such as Capella Sanya, Capella Ubud, and the soon-to-launch Patina Maldives, Fari Islands, are designed to facilitate privacy with generously portioned guest rooms, suites, and villas. As such, we do see an increased demand for domestic leisure travel at all of our properties. Both Capella Shanghai and Capella Sanya have experienced historically high occupancy rates as life in China return to normal. Capella Sanya’s resort ambience has attracted those who were looking for an island getaway, while the historic architecture of the Shikumen villas at Capella Shanghai have lured those who want a unique urban stay.

 

Verandah suites at the newly opened Capella Bangkok feature a Jacuzzi plunge pool.

How enthusiastic has the domestic market been for stays at the brand-new Capella Bangkok? Are bookings from abroad also starting to come in?

Until there is a clear sign that international borders will open, it is understandable that many travelers are not confident in booking hotels aboard. However, we are blessed with a supportive domestic market who have been eager to experience the new Capella Bangkok. Aside from our unique staycation experience with riverfront villas overlooking the Chao Phraya River, guests have shown great enthusiasm toward our specialty dining options, especially Côte by three-Michelin-starred chef Mauro Colagreco. Also popular among local residents are Phra Nakhon which serves authentic Thai cuisine by the river’s edge and Stella, our cocktail bar that couples bespoke libations with exquisite French pastries. The team has also received multiple queries on Capella Bangkok’s distinguished catering facilities that will host prestigious weddings and other social affairs.

 

A guest room at the soon-to-open Capella Hanoi.

We hear that Bill Bensley is designing the upcoming Capella Hanoi. Is there any information you’re able to share in terms of the concept and the estimated opening date?

We are very excited to partner with Sun Hospitality Group in introducing the Capella Hotels and Resorts brand in the city’s most prestigious locale in the Hoan Kiem quarter. Bill Bensley has certainly injected his whimsical touch into the fabric of Capella Hanoi to craft a riveting celebration of opera in the roaring twenties. Each of the 47 rooms and suites are individually styled to reveal stories of opera legends; guests can expect to find a curious blend of memorabilia, photographs, set displays, and vibrant portraiture art with geometric prints and modernist details inspired by 1920s decor.

 

Next year will see the launch of Patina Hotels & Resorts under the Capella group. What is the philosophy and inspiration behind the new brand?

Patina Hotels & Resorts was born out of guests’ ever-changing desires and is a response to the continual flow of life. The sophisticated lifestyle brand seamlessly morphs to accommodate guests as they go about their daily routine without intermission. Inspired by independent minds who are design-literate and socially conscious with an unwavering devotion to the wellbeing of the planet, Patina Hotels & Resorts encourages guests to nurture a deeper connection with themselves and the world around them.

 

An artist’s impression of an overwater villa at Patina Maldives, Fari Islands.

How will Patina dovetail with and complement Capella’s existing offerings?

Capella and Patina brands are truly unique in their own right. The common thread lies in the dedication to our guests and the passion for delivering extraordinary service experiences. Amenities such as dining venues, fitness, and spa will be individually designed for each brand and respective market. Capella Hotels and Resorts focuses on crafting authentic, cultural experiences for its guests, combining a legacy of thoughtful luxury design with the highest level of personalized service. Patina Hotels and Resorts is more committed to offering surprising and dynamic experiences surrounding megatrends of sustainability, wellness, art, and music. We hope to let the brand evolve naturally, using it as a “testing ground” to innovate new concepts aligned to guests’ needs.

 

Is there a certain demographic or segment of travelers that Patina is hoping to target?

Eco-conscious travel is the new norm. An emerging generation of travelers is redefining luxury—no longer focused on polished experiences, fine dining, and a degree of predictability that comes when staying in traditional hotels. These modern-day travelers are increasingly concerned with their impact on the world, monitoring their consumption, expenditure and actions to “do their part.” They want to spend their time responsibly in a place that allows them to fully immerse and impact the community and the regions they visit, and Patina will make this possible.

 

La Terrace, a courtyard bar at Capella Shanghai, Jian Ye Li.

What can you tell us about the Group’s plans for future growth in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond?

For Patina Hotels & Resorts, Patina Maldives, Fari Islands will be the first launch, with properties in Ubud, Sanya, and Osaka also in development. For Capella Hotels & Resorts, properties set to open in the coming years include Capella Maldives, Capella Sydney, and Capella Chiang Mai.

 

How do you determine when a destination is “ripe” for a Capella or Patina hotel? Are there specific countries or places the Group is eyeing at the moment?

For Capella Hotels and Resorts, we are strategically focused on well-established, upscale resort destinations and urban centers with strong leisure demands, such as Hong Kong and Phuket. As for Patina Hotels and Resorts, we seek urban and resort destinations where we can be highly competitive in the lifestyle space. Markets that can appreciate the Patina brand’s strong emphasis on holistic sustainability and wellness will be key for us. Although the majority of current hotel development activity is in the Asia-Pacific region, we are consistently receiving inquiries for development opportunities in key international markets such as America, Europe, and the Middle East.

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