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Grand Hyatt Shanghai is one of the most prominent hotels in Shanghai. Providing everything you may ever need to get a comfortable stay at the city, the hotel also was included in the 2000 Millennium Edition of the Guinness Book of World Records as the “Highest Hotel in the World”. What’s the secret of such success? To find out, we took an interview from the Grand Hyatt Shanghai representative, General Manager and Area Vice President Mr. Richard Greaves.

How do you manage a hotel in one of the tallest buildings in the city?

Opened in 1999, Grand Hyatt Shanghai is located on the 53rd through 87th floors of the Jin Mao Tower. Working at this high-rise hotel always provides a wonderful mood, simply by looking out of the windows at the fascinating views of the Bund. However, this special structure also alerts us on a regular basis to potential maintenance and the enhancement of security systems, to ensure the safety of associates and guests alike. We also practice energy saving by switching off unnecessary power and using environmentally friendly products. Recently, the hotel was awarded a certificate for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for existing buildings, making it a landmark of energy conservation and environmental sustainability. It also makes Grand Hyatt Shanghai, an important part of the Jin Mao Tower, the first international five-star hotel to receive this award in Shanghai.

How much effort is required to manage a luxury hotel in Shanghai?

The most important part of managing a luxury hotel is finding the appropriate associates and providing professional training. People are the key element in the hospitality industry, and finding the right ones can take time and effort. Luxury hotels are not just about high-tech hardware, they are also about great service provided by great people.

As a landmark hotel in Shanghai, what is the thing that you like most, or the thing that you are most proud of about Grand Hyatt Shanghai?

As a landmark hotel in Shanghai, we have built a name and earned a reputation. We are a destination that many people want to visit, partially to see our great atrium and the wonderful views from our higher floors. Our ten restaurants and bars offer food lovers a wide selection of international cuisine, and our event spaces have hosted numerous events for large international companies.

Obviously, these things cannot be achieved without a great team. At Grand Hyatt Shanghai, we have a proud heritage of making guests feel more than welcome, and we strive to make a difference in the lives of the guests we encounter every day by providing authentic hospitality. We believe in providing small, meaningful gestures that extend care to our guests, making them emotionally connected to the brand.

Grand Hyatt is so caring about its clients that your staff also includes a wedding specialist to assist people with weddings at Grand Hyatt. Are there any plans to further expand the number of services that you offer to your clients?

Certainly. We want to provide good service and take care of the needs of our customers. We focus on local market trends, especially in the way that consumer behavior changes. For instance, we recently completed a renovation of our guestrooms, adding the ‘Pure’ and ‘Women’s Experience’ rooms, which enhance stay experiences. We also introduced the Press Reader app to all of our guests, which allows them to enjoy over 2,000 full-content, current-day newspapers on their mobile devices during their stay.

Managing a top brand hotel, how do you assess the future of the market and how do you adjust to it? How do you keep a business at the top while improving services that are already of the highest quality?

The world is changing, and the face of hospitality is changing. There are many new competitors and new hotel openings, and also new services such as Airbnb that are transforming the way in which we think about the hospitality industry.

From this new competition, we have discovered that our guests want unique and authentic experiences. They rely on social media to make choices based on what has been tried and recommended. To stay ahead, we must remain relevant to remain competitive. We have created official accounts for WeChat, Weibo, Instagram, Facebook and other digital channels, which enable our guests to discover the latest hotel information and activities instantly. An online payment and reservation system has also been implemented to create more efficient experiences. In the future, we will develop more functions through these channels in order to enhance our guest experience and create special moments.

On the other hand, we still need to maintain the standards that are expected by sophisticated travelers, and need to continue to provide extraordinary experiences in our restaurants, bars and event facilities.

What do you think is the main secret of a successful luxury hotel? Why do hotels often not know this secret?

In order to become successful, we identify unique selling points: we get close to the market and the community and put ourselves in the right position. Knowing the market can lead to success, inviting competition with larger, better-known brands. Sometimes, we only focus on what we want to offer, but we forget what guests prefer, which leads to failed projects. Conducting market research is crucial. Collecting and analyzing information about the market, including customers and competitors, helps to avoid wasted time and increases our competitive edge.

Grand Hyatt Shanghai has received a few awards and even a Guinness World Record. How important it is for luxury hotels to verify their quality of service with awards?

Grand Hyatt Shanghai used to be the highest hotel in the world, which definitely created public awareness and added to our reputation. We have also received numerous awards from related industry organizations, including ‘Best MICE Hotel’, ‘Best Business Hotel’ and ‘Best Wedding Venue’. These achievements are very important, as they not only represent our place in the industry, but also reflect recognition and encouragement from the public. Despite these recognitions, we strive continuously to make improvements.

Are there enough organizations in the luxury segment that evaluate businesses and provide valuable and respectable awards? From this point of view, can attending the Luxury Lifestyle Awards Asia 2015 help to show off the emerging hotel brands?

There are few professional organizations in the luxury segment that conduct hotel awards. The Luxury Lifestyle Awards Asia is a great platform to introduce the Hyatt brand, and especially Grand Hyatt Shanghai, to hotels around the world. I would not say “show off”. It is mostly an opportunity to share with and learn from others.

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