With her truly global perspective and enthusiasm for her role, executive VP of Global Design and Project Services of Rosewood Hotel Group, Trish Luyckx, is every bit as energetic as she is motivated. Exciting times lie ahead for the company, she tells Can Faik …

Could you tell us about your career to date?

I have more than 29 years’ experience in hotel operations, technical services and design and project services, with projects spanning the Americas, Caribbean, Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia.

Prior to joining Rosewood Hotel Group in 2015, I held various positions with the Hyatt Hotels Corporation and Hyatt International, including VP of product and brand design, and VP of operational planning.

How does Rosewood’s A Sense of Place philosophy guide the brand?

Since its inception, Rosewood has been firmly rooted in the guiding philosophy of A Sense of Place. This means that the local sensibilities of our destinations inform both the design and experience offered at each property – from the architecture and interior design, to the artwork and styling, restaurants, recreation experiences and more. Throughout our brand evolution this has remained at the forefront of our design, and we’ve been thoughtful in our approach so as to stay true to this philosophy and create authentic, one-of-a-kind hotels, resorts and experiences.

It is our goal to combine beautiful interior design with comfort and functionality, for the brand to be global in outlook and reach, and yet also be authentically local in inspiration and intimate in feel. Most important for us is not to lose sight of the guest experience, which needs to remain the centre of all that we do.

How do you want to see the Rosewood brand evolve?

As we continue to design for the future, we have sustainability at the forefront as we embark on new projects and developments. Rosewood Hotels & Resorts properties vow to be noble stewards of nature and we proactively seek ways to conduct our business in a manner that puts environmental responsibility at the forefront of our objectives.

We are not focused on solely expanding our footprint, but on continuously evolving. Innovation is a core value for the whole company, and we continue to focus on finding new ways to surprise, delight and inspire our guests.

How can design be used to manage the guest’s expectations of the hotel experience?

Our design choices are made with the guest in mind, ensuring that we are immersing them in the given destination. We pride ourselves on our incredible attention to detail when it comes to design. Every part of the property tells a story, even the smallest decorative elements. From the fabrics we use to the art in the rooms to even the smallest artefacts, our properties are meticulously curated to not only make guests feel at home, but also to immerse them in the destinations that they visit.

Turning to the topic of authenticity of experience, how do you approach each project?

At Rosewood Hotels & Resorts we have had the pleasure of working with some of the most talented architects and designers in the world, which is evident in the incredible spaces they have created across the globe. For each bespoke property, we take care in selecting a team that is aligned with our vision and well positioned to bring it to life. Our internal team oversees the project from start to finish, ensuring that our vision is fulfilled in collaboration with these valued partners.

From a design standpoint, no two Rosewood properties are alike. Design is central to the entire experience, as it is oftentimes the first and most overarching element of a guest’s journey, inviting them in the moment they arrive. We look to incorporate local materials and techniques that are authentic to a destination while simultaneously infusing a contemporary sense of style and state-of-the-art amenities.

How has Rosewood responded to the shifting definition of luxury?

Luxury travel has shifted away from ideas of traditional luxury and pampering and toward value, authenticity and truly local experiences. No longer are we content to passively tour a destination. Instead, we want to fully immerse ourselves in a place – its history, its culture, its cuisine – and experience transformation through travel.

Transformation can come about from an accumulation of revealing discoveries – those that heighten one’s senses, up-end perspective and challenge pre-set notions. I’m not talking about gimmicks or constantly chasing the ‘new’ – true luxury today, in hospitality, can be about creating an environment ripe for life change, to the degree the individual wants to pursue it.

We are constantly looking to the evolving needs and desires of luxury travellers, and innovating accordingly, taking into consideration differences in culture, life stage, reasons for travelling and the destination.

We don’t follow a cookie-cutter or traditional approach to luxury hospitality – we very much value creativity and innovation. Each hotel and each campaign follows a customised process, and we constantly aim to showcase our destinations in new ways, and to innovate and inspire our guests with new experiences.

How does working with the right design studios help the Rosewood brand stand out?

At Rosewood, we have been quite lucky to work with an incredible group of designers from all over the world. Each designer brings such a unique perspective to their project. It is critical, though, when choosing a designer, that we ensure their innate understanding of our brand’s A Sense of Place philosophy, so that it permeates throughout all aspects of the property.

For example, Rosewood Vienna was realised by two Viennese architecture firms, A2K and BEHF, with decor by the London interior design studio Alexander Waterworth. Kroenland, a Viennese firm, created the brasserie and bar on the property’s sixth and seventh floors – spaces that take advantage of unrivalled settings. Throughout the property, architects, designers and artisans have created spaces – restaurants, bar, spa, and meeting rooms – that engage guests with the uniqueness of Vienna. Alexander Waterworth has fashioned a luxury residential domain for 71 guest rooms and 28 suites – truly a reflection of modern life in Vienna today.

Do you want your designers to think about loyalty when they design a hotel for you, or is it just an operator’s concern?

During our initial discussions with the designers, we always provide them with our brand philosophy as guidance to how we typically approach our projects. This includes a brief on our ‘affluential explorer’ guest profile as well as their anticipated experiences, and this helps to provide them with context that can further inspire them during the design process.

What is your favourite part of bringing a Rosewood hotel to life?

I think it is both the beginning of the project when we are creating the vision for the hotel, going through the concept phases with the designers, and then towards the end, at the pre-opening phase when you see it all come to life after many years of planning – it’s a very rewarding feeling to see the doors open and the first guest enter the hotel.

Do you believe simple design has become luxurious?

I believe that design can be simple, yet still have details that make it very elegant and inspiring. Design can be simple in function, but still have the feeling of luxury, by paying attention to the smallest of details that would be appreciated by our guests, the ‘affluential explorers’.

Is there anything exciting you’re working on that you can tell us about?

In 2023 we are looking forward to opening: Rosewood Munich; Kona Village, A Rosewood Resort, in Hawai’i; and Rosewood Doha.

For Kona Village, A Rosewood Resort, we have collaborated with Walker Warner Architects and Nicole Hollis together with VITA Planning & Landscape Architecture, who have incorporated sustainable practices and indigenous materials throughout the design of the resort. In keeping with Kona Village’s commitment to preserve its surrounding environment, the development team has engaged Re-use Hawai’i, a local non-profit, to deconstruct deteriorated buildings by hand and salvage up to 80% of the materials for reuse and recycling, minimising the volume of landfill waste and the need to grow, harvest, produce and transport new material on-island.

What’s next for you and the brand?

It’s an exciting time of growth for the brand and I am excited for the opportunity for guests to travel to new destinations and discover new cultures in a way that only Rosewood can provide.

Rosewood is evolving beyond the hotels and resorts, expanding the business and delving into new areas, including: Carlyle & Co, a new breed of landmark private members’ clubs that launched last year in Hong Kong; Asaya, Rosewood’s integrative and standalone wellness concept;

Rosewood Lifestyle – the brand recently launched a branded lifestyle line in mainland China that includes pop-up fragrance collaborations, along with candles, diffusers and other wellness items, and there are future plans to expand into the rest of the world; and Rosewood Residences – some of the residences exist in tandem with a Rosewood hotel or resort property, with 50% of the pipeline hotels including residences, yet we are also expanding our collection of standalone branded Residences.

Finally, our new signing announcements really showcase our resilient growth strategy, including several iconic properties that will transform and join our portfolio, like The Raleigh (Miami Beach) and Hotel Bauer (Venice, Italy). Other properties include Rosewood Residences Beverly Hills, Rosewood Xi’An and Rosewood Milan.

What would be your dream hotel project?

Being a South African, I would love to be able to work on a project or two in South Africa, Cape Town for sure, and also a safari camp.

Where are the three best places you’ve stayed?

Rosewood Hong Kong is one of a kind and a very personal project, as I worked on it for many years. Plus Park Hyatt Tokyo, a real classic that is the ultimate timeless property for design, and Oberoi Gurgaon, purely from the service perspective, that was impeccable and memorable.

Tell us something that people might not know about you …

My outlook in life has been shaped by living in many countries and being inspired by many cultures and people I have met along the way. The countries I have lived in are South Africa, Israel, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Switzerland, Poland, Russia, USA, Hong Kong and the Netherlands.