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INTERVIEW - GABRIEL GN, SENIOR ASSISTANT VICE PRESIDENT AND GROUP HEAD OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT AT BANYAN TREE: "WE ASPIRE TO PLAY A LEADING ROLE IN THE SECTOR" (Singapore)

With a strong presence in the Asian market, where its adventure began in Thailand, Banyan Tree Group will open its first property in Europe in 2026, with the ultimate ambition of becoming one of the world's leading luxury hospitality brands.

INTERVIEW - GABRIEL GN, SENIOR ASSISTANT VICE PRESIDENT AND GROUP HEAD OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT AT BANYAN TREE: "WE ASPIRE TO PLAY A LEADING ROLE IN THE SECTOR" (Singapore)

With a strong presence in the Asian market, where its adventure began in Thailand, Banyan Tree Group will open its first property in Europe in 2026, with the ultimate ambition of becoming one of the world's leading luxury hospitality brands.

Category: Asia Pacific - Singapore - Industry economy - Hotel projects - Interviews
Interview made by Christopher Buet on 2023-07-14


The luxury hotel industry is a large playing field, big enough for everyone to be able to express their difference and seduce their clientele.

While giants, such as Marriott†and Accor,†have sprung up all over the place, some have preferred to grow in their own corners. There, on the edge of Asia, the Banyan Tree group has patiently built its empire from Thailand, where it all began in 1984. Under the spell of Pukhet, Ho Kwon Ping and Claire Chiang bought a plot of land. It took them 10 years to rehabilitate it and build their first hotel, laying the foundations for what would become the Banyan Tree identity: luxury, respect for nature and well-being. The Singaporean group accelerated its expansion in the 2010s. After establishing its presence in China, Indonesia and the Maldives, it set out to conquer other continents such as America and Europe. Today, Banyan Tree owns around seventy hotels grouped into 10 brands, as well as around sixty spas and other activities.

Gabriel Gn deserves some of the credit for this success. Since 2012, this former lawyer has supported the Group's growth and now manages its business development. This is a strategic position at the crossroads of the ambitions of a group that is still little known in Europe and that intends to make its mark there, as the Singaporean manager told to the Journal des Palaces.

What is the DNA of the Banyan Tree brand? What do customers look for in your hotels?

The DNA of the Banyan Tree brand revolves around creating exceptional and immersive experiences for our customers. Our hotels are known for their distinctive architecture, breathtaking locations, and a strong commitment to sustainability. Customers seek out Banyan Tree hotels for their unique sense of place, luxurious accommodations, world-class service, and the opportunity to reconnect with nature and local culture. We strive to create a harmonious blend of luxury, wellness, and sustainability that resonates with our discerning guests.

You have announced the opening of your second property in Europe and Greece for 2026. What will be the special features of this hotel?

The hotel in Greece will showcase the distinctive features that have become synonymous with the Banyan Tree brand. It will offer luxurious accommodations, including private villas and suites with stunning views of the Aegean Sea. The property will also incorporate our award-winning spa and wellness facilities, allowing guests to indulge in rejuvenating treatments inspired by local traditions. Additionally, the hotel will highlight sustainable practices and provide immersive experiences that showcase the rich cultural heritage of Greece.

More generally, how do you choose the destinations in which you set up your business?

When choosing destinations for Banyan Tree brand in particular, we carefully consider a range of factors. We look for locations that offer unique and awe-inspiring natural environments, cultural richness, and a strong demand for luxury travel experiences. Sustainability is also a key consideration, as we aim to operate in harmony with nature and contribute positively to local communities. By selecting destinations with high potential and aligning them with our brand values, we can create extraordinary experiences for our guests while ensuring the long-term success of our business.

You plan to open 50 new hotels by 2025. In which countries would you like to do this, and why?

We have always had global ambitions and to create unique experiences in every destination for our guests, creating a string of pearls across the world. As part of that expansion, we are always keen to enter new markets, and a big part of that is expanding into Europe, the Americas, and the Middle East.

We enter a new phase of growth in various strategic initiatives, partnerships, and expansions with a larger portfolio has been very exciting.

Are you thinking of investing in France?

France is undoubtedly a remarkable country with a rich history, cultural heritage, and a well-established luxury tourism market. A very key factor in entering a new market is finding the right partner Ė we are always on the lookout for opportunities and with the right partner we would certainly consider.

What is your view of the European luxury hotel market?

It is highly competitive, dynamic, and constantly evolving. It offers a wide range of opportunities for brands that can deliver exceptional experiences and meet the evolving demands of discerning travelers. Banyan Tree recognizes the potential of the European market and its attractiveness to luxury travelers. We believe our unique proposition, which combines luxury, sustainability, and wellness, positions us well to succeed in this market and provide a differentiated offering to our guests.

How do you plan to stand out from the competition?

We leverage our core strengths, which include our strong brand reputation, commitment to sustainability, and exceptional guest experiences. Banyan Tree hotels offer a unique sense of place, combining luxurious accommodations with immersive experiences that allow guests to connect with the local culture, nature, and community.

Our spas and wellness facilities are renowned for their innovative treatments, and our sustainable practices demonstrate our dedication to preserving the environment and supporting local communities.

By consistently delivering on these aspects, we aim to create a lasting impression on our guests and differentiate ourselves from other luxury hotel brands.

What is your long-term strategy in finally investing in Europe? Do you see this as an opportunity to attract new investors by demonstrating your expertise and further supporting your development?

Our investment in Europe represents an opportunity to expand our global footprint and showcase our expertise in a new market. It allows us to attract new investors who recognize the value of our brand and support our continued growth.

We are committed to leveraging our experience and success in other regions to establish a strong presence in Europe. By demonstrating our ability to deliver exceptional guest experiences, sustainable practices, and financial performance, we aim to build long-term partnerships and further accelerate our development in the region.

What role do you want Banyan Tree to play in the luxury hotel industry?

As a Group, we aspire to play a leading role in the hotel industry by setting new standards for sustainability and wellness. We aim to be recognized as a pioneer in responsible tourism, where our guests can enjoy world-class hospitality while making a positive impact on the environment and local communities.

We strive to create transformative experiences that go beyond conventional travel, allowing guests to reconnect with nature, themselves, and destinations they visit. Through innovation, collaboration, and a deep commitment to our core values, we aim to shape the future of hospitality.

What is your definition of luxury?

Luxury, to us, extends beyond material opulence. It encompasses a holistic experience that engages all the senses, nurtures well-being, and creates lasting memories. Luxury is about personalized and intuitive service, attention to detail, and the ability to anticipate and exceed the expectations of our guests. It is also about providing unique and authentic experiences that resonate emotionally and intellectually.

At Banyan Tree, luxury is inseparable from sustainability, as we believe true luxury should be responsible, respectful of the environment, and supportive of local communities. Our definition of luxury encompasses a deep connection to nature, a sense of place, and a commitment to enhancing the well-being of our guests and the world around us.

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About the author

A journalist with many skills and an ever curious traveller, Christopher has a great attraction for carefully refined hotels, where characterful gastronomy, impeccable service and sincere elegance go hand in hand. A discreet and gourmet pen at the service of a certain idea of luxury.


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