When it comes to celebrated Les Roches alumni, there are few more storied examples than Radha Arora, President of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts.
So we were delighted to welcome Radha back to Crans-Montana campus to speak to students for the latest in our Leadership Series conferences.
Having been born into a diplomatic family, Radha spent his childhood in various different countries, with a fair proportion of this time living in hotels – an experience that planted the seeds of his lifelong passion for hospitality.
Radha graduated from Les Roches in 1982. Since then he has enjoyed a stellar 30-year career in hospitality, which has seen him work for some of the world’s most iconic hotels, including The Savoy, The Ritz, the Hôtel de Crillon Paris and the Beverly Wilshire (the latter of which he was general manager).
He joined Rosewood in 2011 and since then he has helped the brand relaunch and expand its footprint globally, while staying true to its core principles and customer promise. Notable openings Radha took the students through included Rosewood Hong Kong, a new landmark property for the brand that featured a number of Les Roches alumni among its launch team.
Managing growth without compromise is something that requires a meticulous approach to achieve successfully. “Everything about a Rosewood hotel speaks to its particular destination, because today’s luxury customer is not looking for a typical hotel experience; they want an authentic experience that the guest next door cannot have,” Radha told the packed audience of undergraduate and graduate students.
“That’s why we choose to work with local artisans in areas such as food, beverage and art, giving the local community first rights when we establish a new property. Ours is a story of slow, thoughtful growth – we only go where we feel we can deliver on our brand promise.”
Among the upcoming Rosewood properties Radha gave insights to were exciting new projects in London, Venice and Houston – the first of these on the site of the former US Embassy in Grosvenor Square, which Radha described as “one of the world’s most prestigious addresses”.
Radha also gave interesting insights into his own career path, including some of the life-changing turning points he has experienced. Perhaps most notable among these was a stint working in Hawaii.
“The Hawaiian culture is life-defining and it changed the way I led properties. I had previously had quite an autocratic management style, but the ‘Aloha Spirit’ softened my style enormously. It really does stay with you forever,” he explained.
Before a lively Q&A session, Radha challenged the student audience to think about their own ‘DNA’ and to try to define their particular hospitality calling. “You should think about this industry as a platform to make a difference. You have to master your craft and you must be in it for the long term if you want to be successful in hospitality,” he said.