Travel agents may soon have more Fairmont inventory to sell, thanks to Matthew
Sparks. Fairmont Raffles Hotels International recently tapped Sparks
to head up development in the Americas,
and his primary focus will be growing the brand's portfolio. "Growth is a
key priority for Fairmont in 2007 and
says, only days after assuming his new post. "With significant development
resources in place and owners that support our growth strategy, we have an
aggressive goal to expand." Expansion will be attained through new
management contracts, new property openings, joint ventures and residential
projects, says Sparks.
Roughly a year has passed since Colony Capital, a group that
manages the Raffles and Swissotel brands, and Kingdom Hotels International
acquired Toronto-based Fairmont Hotels & Resorts at an approximate all-in
deal worth $5.5 billion. At the time, the plan was to combine the Fairmont and Raffles
brands into a unified global luxury hotel entity. A year later, and with a new
senior vice president of development on board, the unified Fairmont Raffles
Hotels International is bent on expansion and increased penetration of both its
The unification of Fairmont
and Raffles gives the company a sizeable global footprint, which Sparks promises to
leverage as a means toward global expansion. "We are looking to expand in
many parts of the world," he anticipates. "Markets like the United States, Europe and Asia
hold vast potential."
Sparks' focus, meanwhile, is
on the Americas.
"First and foremost on my agenda will be diversifying the portfolio
through new growth opportunities in markets where we currently have limited or
no presence," Sparks says, adding that the
Raffles brand (a historically European brand) would be grown in select urban
and resort markets in the Americas.
Though expansion through ownership remains a play for Fairmont, it largely has
eschewed ownership in favor of management. "While ownership will always be
an option to stimulate expansion, our key focus is on growing the company
through hotel management," Sparks shares. Last year the company sold a
number of assets while continuing to hold onto long-term management contracts.
That doesn't mean the company won't be spending money.
"We have made a significant investment to update our portfolio over the
last decade," says Sparks.
Fairmont will continue to reinvest and update
its existing properties, particularly its portfolio of iconic hotels such as
The Savoy in London and Manhattan's famed Plaza Hotel, the latter
which closed in 2005 and underwent $350 million in renovations. That property
will now be mixed-use once it reopens midway through this year; agents can now
book its 282 luxury suites.
planned expansion behooves more agents to enroll in Fairmont Famous, its travel
agent program, which educates and rewards agents. Growing the Fairmont brand could boost commissions for agents
with enough knowledge to sell the product. Visit www.fairmont.com.