Mansi Vagt, Global Brand Leader & Vice President, Fairmont was in London recently to launch a new book, Fairmont, Grand by Nature.
Sarah Turner: We’ve been through this period of huge change, which has brought both opportunities and challenges. What would you say have been the challenges?
Mansi Vagt: After an event that was as traumatic as this pandemic, we need to be much more empathetic to the way people are looking for balance in their lives, so that we can retain talent but also attract new talent. That’s both a challenge and an opportunity for us.
And opportunities? Before people would fly across continents for a one hour meeting; that’s not going to happen again. However, the connection we all need as human beings will continue. We see a shift happening towards longer length business meetings, where people really want to invigorate their teams with workshops and conferences.
How would you see the evolution here at the Savoy? Because of the book, I’ve recently been thinking about what the modern traveler – especially in the luxury market – is looking for today. It’s very different from the experiences people were looking for 10 years ago, and also pre-pandemic. However, being able to touch the past, walk into a piece of history; that’s never going to change and it’s such an important part of the Fairmont brand.
The book, Fairmont, Grand By Nature is a celebration of Fairmont’s most historic brands? Why did you decide to create it?
As Cornelius Van Horn said when the Canadian Pacific Railway was being built; you can’t export the scenery, so we’re going to import the tourists and he did so with properties like the Banff Springs in 1888 and Chateau Frontenac. We wanted to create a book to celebrate the incredible properties we have.
Chateau Montebello, which opened in 1930 in Quebec is one of the largest log cabins in the world and is surrounded by extraordinary nature. It’s a brand with an extraordinary heritage. With our American origins as well, we’re one of the two luxury brands that had female founders. Sisters Virginia and Theresa built the first Fairmont Hotel at Nob Hill in San Francisco in 1907.
It was also a chance to document all these incredible, historic and cultural moments that have happened at Fairmont Hotels, from the UN Charter of Rights being drafted and signed at Fairmont San Francisco to John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s bed-in for peace at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal and Truman Capote’s Black and White ball at the Plaza in New York.
How do you think Fairmont’s Canadian heritage still informs the brand?
If you go to Fairmont in Asia Pacific, you don’t want to feel like you’re in Texas; we’re a brand that truly believes in being authentic so guests can feel the culture of their destination but we also want to have a warmth, a sense of community that feels to me to be quite Canadian.
Fairmont has made significant investment into branded residencies in recent years.
Our trajectory and growth plan for residences is skyrocketing, from the Red Sea project in Saudi Arabia to residences to Phoenix and Vietnam. The growth in residences are both about getting away from the cities and feeling part of these beautiful destinations but also wanting that Fairmont level of luxury and service. A luxury hotel experience that feels more like home is something people are really gravitating towards.