The W Hotel group is a brand we just love, we have stayed in various W Hotels around the world and each one has ‘wowed’ us, which is exactly what the brand sets to achieve. With the launch of the new W Hotel Amsterdam, we wanted to find out more about the people behind the brand so who better to ask that the man that makes the hotel tick GM Igor Buercher.
1. Please tell us a little bit more about your career within the luxury hospitality sector.
I have been in the hotel business for nearly 20 years and mainly worked for Starwood Hotels & Resorts – and it has taken me across two continents, 7 countries and 10 hotels properties. I have worked in smaller hotels with less than 150 rooms to huge complex operations with 2,500 rooms. I also had the opportunity to gain experience in basically all hotel sub categories, such as city center, suburban, conference, airport and resort.
2. You’ve been part of the Starwood team for many, many years (we’re not counting!!) what is it about this brand that you love so much?
I love working for Starwood Hotels & Resorts. As one of the biggest international hotel operators, I appreciate having the opportunity to be able to work worldwide. We have over 1,700 hotels in over 100 countries. We have many exciting brands and generally have always been an innovator in our industry sector. W in particular is such an extraordinarily strong brand and with is passion points in fashion, music and design this brand feels closest to my personal lifestyle.
3. And how have you seen it evolve over the years?
When I started in the mid-90s there was a lot of focus on the uniformity and ubiquity of a hotel brand – ensuring that everything looks & feels the same. We even had it down to memorized welcome and departure scripts. Nowadays, while obviously still maintaining the coherence of a brand, it is more about recognizing and personalizing the guest experiences, essentially taping into a particular lifestyle. While this gives us more freedom & creativity in the approach, today it takes more effort to retain guest loyalty as expectations have sky rocketed. The consumer expects more than just a brand – he also expects to be recognized as an individual with his needs & wishes. Of course this was true in the past as well but the evolvement of technology has really helped us in this regard as we process data far more efficiently. We can find this approach really across all industries now. For example, I am big fan of customized sneakers – this would have not been possible 20 years ago – now I just go online and order a pair.
4. You’re most recent appointment takes you to Amsterdam – what do you love most about this W hotel and the city?
Amsterdam is the perfect choice for W Hotels. The city’s vibrancy and energy, combined with its strong cultural offering make it the ideal backdrop for our contemporary, design-led lifestyle brand. W Amsterdam brings a new style of contemporary luxury to the Dutch hotel scene that is already resonating with locals and visitors alike. The hotel is housed across two historic properties – the old Royal Dutch Post building close to Dam Square and the adjacent former KAS Bank building. It is a truly unique hotel that remixes iconic architecture with a distinctive W thread to create an exciting experience in the heart of Europe’s coolest city. As the project rolls out the various phases over the next months, I am particularly excited to see it all come together.
Amsterdam is a very beautiful city and I really enjoy living here. It is not too big to get lost and I love the fact I can get around with my bicycle everywhere. It feels very accessible not only in size but people are open minded, easy to talk to and it has very international make up.
5. You only have 12 hours in Amsterdam – what do you do and where do you go?
Insider tip: I would start the day with a visit at the FOAM photography museum. They have a great collection of a variety of young and known photographers and they always know how to wow me with their exhibitions. Afterwards I would go for a delicious lunch at HappyHappyJoyJoy. The atmosphere is crazy busy and loud, but it all adds to the atmosphere of the Asian street food culture. The food is great and the people are awesome. Later on, I would explore one of the nicest shopping street of Amsterdam, Utrechtsestraat. Have a look at Concerto for some nice new and vintage vinyl’s. Furthermore, go to some nice shops such as We Are Labels and Cowboys 2 Catwalk. I will end the day at Restaurant Breda, newly opened restaurant on the Singel. They will make my evening with a delicious surprise menu.
6. Tell us a little more about your travels. What are your highlights and why?
I love to travel and my perfect getaway is about traveling to a new spot and staying at a fabulous hotel. It seems I can never get away from a hotel! I grew up in the Swiss Alps and away from the Sea. I am happy as a pea if I can get to a destination with sunshine and a beach. This formula never fails for me. For my most recent holiday I traveled to Mauritius and I stayed at the luxury St Regis Mauritius Resort. The breath taking views over the Indian Ocean were absolutely stunning.
7. Where in the world have you not yet visited and would love to?
I have an affinity for SE Asia. In particular, I am fascinated with their cuisine and culture. While I have made several trips already I have not yet visited Vietnam, so it is high up on my bucket list. Also, even though I spent 15 years in the USA I have never made a proper road trip. It is something I regret. I would love to take off 1 -2 months and do an extensive cross country road trip – visiting not only the have-to-see places but also quirky and out of ordinary spots.
8. What are your predications for luxury travel trends over the next few years?
The clear trend in luxury is about each individual defining what luxury means for them. Luxury will continue to evolve in that direction and it will continue to be less formal in terms of extravagance and opulence. A luxurious moment will be defined by the time one can spend away from the frenzy of everyday life and the ability to seek out quiet places to recharge and strip away distractions. Technology will continue pay a key role by having the best available – making it completely accessible and easy to use for guests, and then make it all disappear when they need a time out. What will remain time tested is for a hotel to have the right location, the right facilities and coupled impeccable service you have the recipe for a perfect escape.