Headlined as the newest “ultra-luxury hospitality brand in Asia”, Niccolo has said it plans to have five hotels in China and Hong Kong by 2018, with more to come outside the country too.
The first hotel under the brand, which is a sister to Marco Polo Hotels, is in Chengdu and opened last year, with three more in mainland China to follow.
Speaking at ILTM in Cannes, Philip Schaetz, vice president, sales and marketing, Marco Polo Hotels, said: “The brand is designed for captains of industry and leaders in style and the hotels are modern but not loud lifestyle statements.”
Next up will be the flagship for the brand, The Murray, a Niccolo Hotel, which will open in Hong Kong in autumn 2017 in one of the city’s most iconic buildings.
The Murray is a standalone building originally created as an office block, but now being converted to offer 336 guestrooms, 12% of which will be suites.
The building is 50 years old and was revolutionary architecturally when it opened in Hong Kong. Original British Architect Ron Phillips – now 89 years old – has been consulted with about its development, with work now carried out by Foster + Partners out of London and New York.
The Murray will have Duncan Palmer as its managing director, who spent many years running The Langham in London. He said: “It is a great privilege to be a part of the journey of The Murray.”
Both the Marco Polo and Niccolo brands are owned by Wharf Holdings, a multi-billion dollar, multi-national based in Hong Kong, which also includes department store Lane Crawford.
It is investing significant resources into developing the brand – Niccolo is the name of the father of Marco Polo, the 13th century explorer said to have opened China to the world.
“The hotels will be in Asia principally but the backing is there for us to develop further as we firmly believe in this brand and what it will do in the luxury space,” said Palmer, who added that The Murray would offer among the best salaries in hospitality in Hong Kong in order to attract the highest caliber of staff. “We have focused on creating as great a back-of-house working environment as possible for them too.”