Luxury Hospitality Daily News

< Previous news Next news >


Vertu Hotels & Resorts is attracting an increasing number of independent hoteliers looking for a lighter, more flexible structure that places hospitality at the heart of its strategies


Vertu Hotels & Resorts is attracting an increasing number of independent hoteliers looking for a lighter, more flexible structure that places hospitality at the heart of its strategies

Category: Worldwide - Interviews and portraits - Interviews - Industry leaders
Interview made by Vanessa Guerrier-Buisine on 2023-09-15

Gerald Lampaert has had a unique career, combining responsibilities in major companies in the travel and hospitality industries, such as the Walt Disney Company and Dolce Hotels & Resorts, with positions in properties on a human scale. Just like at the Imperial Palace in Annecy, for three years he managed the technological development of the hotel, casino, and conference centre. From all this experience, he drew an extraordinary agility, which he wanted to put to good use in mostly independent hotels. This ambition led him to create a service company, and then his own hotel group. This is how Vertu Hotels & Resorts was born just before the Covid-19 crisis, in 2018.

Gerald Lampaert, founder and CEO, was quickly joined in this project, which combined entrepreneurial objectives with his passion for hospitality and meeting people, by a man whose vision and values he shared, Philippe Attia, who then became president and co-founder, responsible for the hotels managed by the group.

The two men wanted to put their seasoned experience at the service of their customers, whether owners or travellers, to return to flexible management of the business, putting the human experience back at the heart of the process. Vertu Hotels & Resorts covers the “360 degrees of the hotel industry”. Far from the 500-page manuals of standards, Gerald Lampaert wants to spread a model of excellence on a human scale.

A collection of 41 hotels bears the Vertu Hotels & Resorts hallmark, including the A22 hotel in Latvia, the Villa Calvi and the Château Hôtel Grand Barrail Saint-Émilion in France. These are hotels with 'character', where charm, intimacy and the service experience offered are the only things they have in common.

In an interview with the Journal des Palaces, Gerald Lampaert agreed to reveal the very essence of Vertu Hotels & Resorts. It's an opportunity to look back at the nuances of this fast-growing group.

Journal des Palaces: What was the genesis of Vertu Hotels & Resorts? What are your values, your DNA?

Gerald Lampaert: During my entire career, I learned, and I was focused on service excellence. My conviction is that when we choose Hospitality as a career path, our devotion is to please the customer at the best. Offering guests a memorable experience and seeing the stars in their eyes has always thrilled me. Creating a hotel chain is a real challenge and my ambition was to create a hotel group that would focus on the customer experience.

The origin and especially the latin origin of Vertu encapsulate the notion of excellence and quality of product and service. This is normally the base of our philosophy and focus in really committed hospitality companies, and thus it was easy to make Vertu Hotels and Resorts the flag of our DNA, combining beautiful venues with an excellent service.

Vertu is built on four core values: adaptability, flexibility, agility, and guest experience. We are not a very heavy structure, we could almost be compared to a family style company - therefore, all of us have the sense of what it takes to please clients. For this reason, we tend to be available almost at all times and reply almost immediately to all requests. We have that agility and creativity that hoteliers appreciate.

Our team is made up of a wide range of cultures and skills. So, there's a solution for every need. Finally, we offer flexibility to meet the needs of investors, owners, and hoteliers. What symbolizes this flexibility is that we do not impose our own technological tools or processes for affiliated hotels. This flexibility is also applicable at our Vertu Hospitality Service division, when our team is working on third-party hotels projects, including constructions, renovations, extensions, and asset management.

Last, creating a great customer experience is a combination of experience and devotion. In every business or customer case, we push the envelope as far as possible to provide a service beyond expectations, both internally for hotel owners to whom we provide hospitality services, and to B2C hotels guests the best attention.

Travelling can be overwhelming, security, jet lag, luggage, hotel arrival and so on. Our customer experience ensures consistency, with the philosophy of creating a fantastic and unforgettable experience, whatever the reason for the customer's visit, whether they're coming for a coffee or a stay in our hotels. In our hotels, which are not big hotels, it's not about technology, it's about people.

Do you see Vertu Hotels & Resorts as a collection of luxury hotels? If so, how would you define luxury hotels?

The term luxury is often misused or misleading. For me, luxury comes down to our value: quality of service. Whatever the classification of a hotel, it's the quality of service that makes the difference and qualifies a property as luxurious. What I consider to be true luxury is the ability to transport guests and visitors into another world, far away from their day to day, have them relaxing and free of any worry, and make them feel more at home in our hotels than in their own homes. It's obviously a big challenge, of course, but with the appropriate willingness, care, and empathy, you can make many dreams come true.

In this sense, Vertu Hotels & Resorts can be described as a collection of luxury hotels, since our portfolio consists primarily of 4* and 5* hotels, exceptional products, with attention to details, and where the trend is towards very good service.

What is Vertu's commitment to its independent affiliated hotels? How do you ensure that the teams at both Vertu-managed and affiliated hotels carry the Vertu DNA?

Our website is the first thing that hoteliers see about Vertu, as it is our commercial showcase. It has been designed to be sober and uncluttered, we have tried to be as luxurious as possible without being ostentatious, to be modern.

Most of the hotels affiliated to Vertu are independent hotels that wanted to join a new collection, one that stands out from the crowd and is less demanding in terms of standards, selection criteria and costs. We have been approached by owners and investment funds who are interested in launching their properties with a young, dynamic, and less restrictive brand.

Most of these hotels use the same Vertu Hotels and Resorts booking engine, so our back office is already providing serious and very reliable data. In the upscale and luxury industry, a hotel that is performing well is most likely a hotel that provides great service. This is a first indicator. We also analyse all scoring on TripAdvisor and various analysis tools to comfort us in the quality of service.

From time to time, we push surveys to customers who booked through Vertu Hotels and Resorts so that we can cross-reference.

At last, we also carry out mystery visits to some hotels to see for ourselves that the service is in line with our agreements, for a night or for a cup of coffee in the lobby, the moment when you see everything going on in a hotel lobby.

Could you describe your “à la carte” operational and strategic approach, and tell us which topics are most popular with affiliated hotels? How do you support hotel management teams?

The à la carte service is mostly for the affiliated hotels who may have signed for this option. As part of our 360-degree approach to hospitality services, we offer the options to affiliated hotels to pick a pool of consulting and project management hours for specific needs.

These may include F&B concepts, operations, MICE, marketing, or digital services. Currently, around 70% of demand is on a variety of digital and technology services. This is quite normal, especially since the Covid-19 crisis, the speed of digitalization has increased tremendously.

What do guests expect when they choose Vertu Hotels & Resorts? Can you cite examples that distinguish Vertu from other brands in its category?

Guest expectations in our market segment are almost always the same for all brands offering similar products. Vertu Hotels, with capacities ranging from 20 to 200 rooms, offer a more human dimension. We speak to guests in a more personal way, less encapsulated in a hotel standard that you would find in any other group.

The difference resides in our core values, but if I had to pick one, I would say flexibility, to adapt to every scenario and to meet every request.

What criteria do you apply when selecting hotels to join the Vertu contingent? How many hotels are currently managed by Vertu and how many are in affiliation?

To date, we run a portfolio of 41 hotels, of which only one is longer managed, but there are four more management agreements to come in the pipeline.

Our ideal criteria of selection are the reputation, the uniqueness of the hotel, its commitment to sustainability and the use of regional products, anywhere between 20 and 200 rooms, to offer consistency in the quality of service and attention to the guest, and the same values as ours in terms of service excellence.

What are your development plans? In which destinations would you like to expand next?

In terms of hotel management, we are currently working on four projects, in Canada, France, Belgium, and Italy in the short and medium term.

In terms of affiliation and management development, we are currently focusing on North America, Europe, including the UK, and the Middle East. Asia will come later, with no specific date in the calendar.

Where do you stand with your plans for the Middle East? Can we also expect announcements in Las Vegas or Paris?

We're still in the process of building up our presence in the Middle East, where we're keeping a close eye on things. We now only manage all our operations from Switzerland.

Paris is in a serious pipeline, which could come to fruition around the Paris 2024 Olympics, while Las Vegas is a longer-term project if it happens.

What offers do you have, or do you still want to develop?

We are developing the opening of residences. We are working on two concepts of residences within hotels, but also outside the hotel. A private individual can buy a flat or a house that offers hotel services. We want to put Vertu's soul into this area too.

Finally, we have created Vertu Travels, which is the 'travel assistance' part of the business and is already delivering results. Many Americans in their fifties and sixties need guidance when they arrive in Europe. So, we've introduced this new formula, where customers who book at a Vertu hotel will receive assistance with organizing their excursions, transport, etc., to make their experience during their stay as smooth as possible.

What advice would you give to a young person wanting to make a career in the luxury hotel sector?

You shouldn't take anything for granted, especially not in the luxury hotel sector. Sometimes, when I stay in luxury hotels, I have to deal with staff who tend to be condescending towards customers, which I find inappropriate.

Above all, it's essential to work hard, starting at the bottom to learn the basics, and learning as much as you can. I'd also say keep a very respectful attitude with your peers and clients and focus on turning any dream into reality. They'll be amazed and you'll get great personal satisfaction.

Finally, I'd add that it's important to live your dreams, rather than dream your life. By doing this for yourself, you reach a level of work philosophy that makes you want to do everything possible to be of service and to please your customers.

More about...

About the author

As a journalist and luxury hotel expert inspired by the men and women who embody it, Vanessa aspires to enhance and sublimate the beauty and elegance of palaces through her writing. "In a palace, simplicity serves the quest for excellence" she admires.

Read articles by this author

You will also like to read...

< Previous news Next news >

Join us on Facebook Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Instragram Follow us on Youtube Rss news feed


Hello and welcome to Journal des Palaces

You are a communication or the PR manager?
Click here

You are an applicant?
Check out our questions and answers here!

You are a recruiter?
Check out our questions and answers here!