Searching for insider traveler intel? Coming proper up! Meet George Fleck, VP and international brand name chief for St. Regis Hotels and journey connoisseur. Possessing grown up all around the globe, travel has always been not only a passion, but component of his DNA. We sat down with Fleck to explore his worldwide upbringing and enjoy of vacation, the luxe mother nature of the St. Regis brand, and which locations are opening doorways in the close to long run.
Explain to me about oneself! Have you constantly experienced an fascination in vacation?
I was born in Germany, and I’ve been in the U.S. now for virtually 25 many years. As a baby, I would travel all around Asia and Europe. My mom truly is Korean, so I expended a large amount of time in Asia when I was young. I just by natural means picked up that type of passion for journey, acquiring noticed a whole lot of remarkable sites close to the earth at a younger age. I always form of knew I required to perform in hospitality. It was normally my aspiration. Inevitably, I moved to the U.S. to go to university, and which is when I began doing work in hospitality.
What were being your initially jobs?
I labored my way up. I was a bellman, visitor products and services, the front desk. I moved all about the globe above the past 25 a long time in hospitality. I have lived and labored in Singapore, the Maldives, Barcelona, Los Angeles, and New York. I have supported openings in London, Paris, and Hong Kong. My quite early ordeals traveling the entire world and all those inspirations have reshaped my wish and curiosity to perform in journey. I really don’t see my get the job done as get the job done. As I vacation about the globe and I aid and glimpse at all these astounding openings—they’re just much more approaches to open my own horizons and find out from distinctive cultures. It’s been component of my DNA from a young age.
How lengthy have you been with the St. Regis?
I joined the manufacturer as the new brand chief previous tumble. So, a little much less than a calendar year. But I have been with Marriott and Starwood prior to that for above 20 years. So I’ve labored on brands this kind of as W Hotels, wherever I put in the longest time—over 10 years—and I also led makes such as Le Méridien, Westin and Renaissance, and then had the privilege to be part of our St. Regis manufacturer final slide.
What do you adore most about your task and the St. Regis?
It is these kinds of a aspiration for me to be in a position to come to be element of. It is these types of an amazing model. In this very crowded, luxury hospitality place, it is now incredibly difficult for buyers to differentiate in between brands. What I seriously adore about St. Regis is that it has these a solid origin story. I experience like some of the strongest manufacturers that nevertheless leverage, and have these kinds of a potent origin story, have the capability to do a great deal more storytelling about them, which I think really then sticks with our shoppers. They tend to recognize these rituals and packages and an working experience from lodge to resort. I see that extremely considerably happening in other industries. I feel about how Chanel leverages its origin with Coco Chanel, for case in point. A large amount of trend homes do [that] with the primary visionaries, if you will. And I extremely a lot liken that to St. Regis, where it began with John Jacob Astor IV and the Astor family—who have been, in their period, incredibly revolutionary and visionary on how they reimagined the hotel encounter in New York Metropolis at that time as perfectly. They introduced improvements in like, air conditioning, which didn’t exist in hotels at that time. The St. Regis New York was a single of the initially accommodations to give that. Butler assistance was not one thing resorts would present, so the Astors brought in butlers to seem soon after their friends at the St. Regis just like they would be in someone’s house.
We really embrace that similar spirit of innovation today. I go through a lot about the heritage of the Astors and used a great deal of time with [our] manufacturer historian advocate at St. Regis New York. The attendees that have stayed at the resort about the past century, the tales, the inspirations—there’s one thing pretty mild-hearted, and maybe eccentric about all of them that I find quite particular in hospitality simply because I imagine a great deal of us have been very severe, specifically in luxury. To have a little bit of an avant-garde, a bit of an edgier position of view on luxury. We can choose that liberty—given the origin tale and that character and eccentricities of the family—that developed the brand to start off with. ‘How do we take these items of our past and use them to press the manufacturer into the potential?’ I obtain that really captivating.
Explain to me about the origin of the business and the founding household!
I could talk about this for several hours. The a lot more I study about it, the far more I’m fascinated. I was just on the beach, and read through a number of fascinating publications about it. The Astor spouse and children was by now 1 of the most important landlords in Manhattan at the convert of the century. They experienced The Astor Household in lessen Manhattan. They now experienced the Waldorf Astoria, which then got demolished and built way for the Empire Condition Setting up ahead of the latest Waldorf Astoria was erected at its existing deal with. Then, John Jacob Astor experienced a vision to in fact produce some thing extremely different from The Astor Household or Waldorf Astoria, which, at that time, were being currently viewed as some of the grandest motels in The us. His eyesight was to establish a resort wherever there were no other hotels.
Exactly where is the corporation viewing the most growth today?
We’re growing exponentially with this brand name. We have virtually 50 lodges now—we’re at 49 currently. We’re slated to open The St. Regis Chicago following 12 months, which will be our 50th property, which is a wonderful milestone. It was significant for us to increase this model incredibly carefully and thoughtfully and, once more, encouraged by the New York property becoming at the best tackle at 55th and Fifth. We want to make certain every single residence close to the environment is truly the ideal tackle in each and every town you’re in. When you think about the location of the St. Regis Rome, it is close to the Spanish Actions. The St. Regis Maldives is in the non-public islands. We are on the lookout to develop the brand name. I’m specially excited about the brand’s advancement in resort and leisure locations. Following calendar year we anticipate to debut The St. Regis Kanai Vacation resort, which is in the Riviera Maya, and then in 2023 we are slated to debut in Los Cabos, as well as in the Dominican Republic in the coming yrs. We’ve obtained some genuinely interesting places coming up.
Do you have a particular favorite? Have you been to all of them?
I have not been to all of them. But I have to explain to you that my complete favourite just one, and I type of have to enjoy all of them the exact, but I would say selfishly—and this might be much more so due to the fact of the nation because I appreciate it so much—is the St. Regis Rome. I just like Italy. I invested so several fantastic times and visits in Italy, and in Rome specially. If you have observed the film The Gifted Mr. Ripley, it really feels like you have been transported into that time and area.
What are your predictions for travel in the in the vicinity of long run? Where do vacationers have their sights established on correct now?There’s a massive pent up demand from customers from travel. Leisure vacation is returning so rapidly, which is extremely thrilling, especially for St. Regis mainly because we have so several destinations exactly where travelers have been seeking to go to or they just cannot wait to go back to—especially when they experience extremely non-public. Time and place will grow to be extra significant. Customization of travel will be far more critical.
Have you viewed any tendencies on particular spots your attendees are heading to?
I was truly amazed and actually pleased to see the demand from customers in mountain resorts in the summer. We’ve observed this in Aspen and Deer Valley. But it’s also a pattern that we’re seeing in Europe this sort of as Switzerland, Austria and Germany. I’m genuinely thrilled to see the desire in mountain resorts. There’s also been extraordinary demand also in our desert portfolio, in the Center East, and in Africa.
Can you share the names of any well known or regulars that you have found at St. Regis spots?
I just cannot remark specifically on guests that have recently stayed there, but I can say that the brand name has always performed host to the world’s luminaries. Friends like Marilyn Monroe, Ernest Hemingway and Alfred Hitchcock have graced our motels with their existence. In a modern context we are seeing a whole lot extra vacation of personalities, influencers, and superstars once again, and that’s truly exciting for us to see. We love when they opt for our brand to make their household.