Elegant People: Catt McLeod, Vice President Brand Development, Elegant Hotel Collection
To coincide with the launch of the Elegant Hotel Collection, we caught up with Catt to ask her about her new role, her vision for the brand, and why, despite a career involving global travel, there is nowhere she would prefer to be than the Isle of Mull.
Congratulations Catt, on the launch of the Elegant Hotel Collection. Tell us more about what guests can expect from the collection.
Thank you! To say I am delighted to launch and lead this hugely exciting development within luxury travel is an understatement. I genuinely feel privileged to be working with some of the most stunning properties in the world.
As those within the travel sector have seen, there have been notable shifts in consumer behaviours when it comes to luxury travel – demand has increased since the pandemic, and guests expect more than just luxury amenities – they are seeking luxury experiences. Fuelled by this, the Elegant Hotel Collection was created to meet this demand through the curation of a collection of unique and authentic luxury properties, all linked by their commitment to exemplary service and hospitality.
The collection is growing daily and includes everything from stylish Mediterranean boutique hotels such as The Townhouse Mykonos , to prestigious English country houses and iconic groups such as the Exclusive Collection. We are delighted to launch with 25 of the most fabulous and awarded hotels including such stunning properties as Home House in London, Paresa Resort Phuket in Thailand, and La Sultana Oualidia in Morocco
What drove the idea for the Elegant Hotel Collection?
We identified a need for a collection of high-end, high-experience properties that meet the evolving demands of today’s guests. With the luxury hotel sector’s recovery surpassing predictions post-pandemic, we are curating a collection of some of the world’s most stylish and elegant properties and match these with guests seeking luxury hotels committed to providing outstanding service.
For hoteliers, we identified a gap in the market for a provider of best-in-class technology and the highest operational standards to support some of these exquisite independent hotels that aren’t part of the large global chains. By providing a platform and full-service support to help these luxury independent hotels compete in the marketplace, they can reach new audiences, both inspiring guests and enabling them to book their chosen hotel through their preferred channel.
What epitomises an Elegant Hotel?
An Elegant Collection Hotel is epitomised by an ethos of hospitality at its core. Grace, genuine warmth, and authenticity are at the heart of each and every property we invite to be a member of the collection. We of course require hotels to meet defined standards of luxury in terms of the bedrooms and the general premises – but over and above this, hospitality is what truly defines an Elegant Collection property.
In addition, aligned with guest’s changing demands, each property we invite to be a member of the Elegant Hotel Collection is more than just a hotel. The welcome and the service delivery, combined with the hotel’s unique charm and personality, all create a story and will lay the foundation for a memorable experience that we hope will touch guests.
What are guests now looking for from their stay at a luxury hotel?
From our many conversations with hoteliers and recent McKinsey reports, guests are now looking for the three ‘S’s’ – Service, Space and ‘Special Experiences’ when they book luxury breaks.
With regards to service, despite much talk about the digitisation of the guest experience for many, a human and authentic connection is still key. We believe this is defined by graceful, attentive service that anticipates guests’ needs and is discreet, unobtrusive and respectful of guest’s space and time. Technology is a great enabler here, automating many administrative tasks such as check-in and payment. This relieves staff of routine processes, meaning they have more time to focus on delivering a superior level of guest service.
When I say space, I am not just talking about the physical size of the hotel or rooms – it’s about the thought behind the space, in the design, in the attention to detail, and the care and attention to the décor. Guests now look for luxury in every aspect of their stay. They seek thoughtfulness in both design and visual and sensory appeal- from the use of luxurious fabrics, the design of spectacular interiors, experimental menus and even the hotel’s unique fragrance all come together to craft a truly unique hotel experience.
And lastly, as I said earlier, guests seek ‘Special Experiences’ leaving them with unique memories of their stay. This may be stand-up paddle boarding at Taplow House, horse-riding along the beach at La Sultana Oualidia in Morocco, or waking up to a breathtaking Alpine view at the Cresta Palace Hotel in Switzerland.
What is your favourite holiday destination?
That’s an easy one! Without a shadow of a doubt, I would say the Isle of Mull off the west coast of Scotland. It is stunning! It’s the perfect destination to unwind and switch off. We enjoy sailing, swimming and stand-up paddle boarding in the lochs during the day and, season-dependent, some of the most amazing seafood and game in the evenings. And given that I travel a fair amount for work and the recent issues experienced with delays when flying, the fact we can holiday there as a family without having to fly is a real bonus!