Two hotels reopened on the same day, 1 August—the first one of the most storied hotels on the planet; the other, one of hundreds of thousands of other hotels that had no option but to close following the most brutal of circumstances.
Thursday, 1 August, saw two hotels reopen. Both are notable, but for different reasons, and both shout loudly about the underlying strength of the hotel industry and the desire of the public to travel.
As I have just finished with my annual three-week obsession of watching cycling race Le Tour de France, I will say the first is a General Classification Grand Tour winner, the other a domestique with plans to become a super-domestique.
The first is Raffles Singapore, which would probably get in most people’s Top 5 if they had to name five hotels anywhere in the world.
Now of course operated by French hotel firm Accor—it got the flag when it bought FRHI Holdings in July 2016—the hotel has been shuttered for 30 months, which allowed designer Alexandra Champalimaud free reign to spruce everything up.
Famed chef Alain Ducasse has opened his first restaurant in Singapore at the hotel.
I recently had a coffee at London’s The Savoy hotel—part of Accor’s Fairmont brand, bought in the same 2016 deal—with Jeannette Ho, VP of the Raffles brand and strategic relationships, who told me that with the Singapore asset as a jumping-off post, the brand now enjoys an unprecedented platform for global growth.
That growth will be very carefully laid out, no doubt, but it will seem speedy if only compared with the brand’s historical timeline and pipeline thus far.
Raffles Singapore first opened in 1887 and declared a Singaporean national monument on its centenary.
Like The Savoy, Raffles Singapore’s guest list is a Who’s Who of celebrities. According to website CNA Lifestyle, key cards will be housed in leather pouches bearing sketches of some of these famed overnighters—people such as Elizabeth Taylor, Noël Coward and Pablo Neruda.
The second hotel to open should also be celebrated, but for entirely different reasons.
The DusitD2 Hotel in Nairobi opened, too, on 1 August, six months after terrorists stormed it and killed 21 people.
A party on 31 July, a few hours before the doors swung open, included a performance of an orchestra and a motorcycle cavalcade that accompanied a jogging David Rudisha, according to a report from news agency Reuters.
There is no point trying to come up with a sporting analogy for the DusitD2 Nairobi, as Rudisha, the double Olympic gold 800-meter runner, simply is the best athlete ever over that distance and still holds his world record from 2012 of 1:40:91.
The Thai-owned hotel’s press release mentioning the reopening makes no mention of the tragic circumstances of its closure, and good for it, as this hotel—as does the opening of Raffles Singapore—speaks of good people continuing to travel and to rebuild.
Long might that sentiment continue.
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