Meet our Member: James Wheatcroft, Senior VP of Marketing Northern Europe, Accor

What is luxury to you?

Luxury is the perfect balance of time, effortlessness and care.

Time is the currency of true luxury.

Luxury should be effortless – this is where the incredible and implacable service culture of luxury hospitality truly shines.

Care is a word I like to associate with luxury – for me it translates to craftsmanship, service, attention, detail, relevance, purpose – all of which are central to truly luxury products or experiences.

What is the biggest priority for ACCOR specifically for the Raffles OWO right now? What can people expect for the upcoming opening?

The restoration of The OWO and launch of Raffles London has been a carefully planned project which has involved many years of development involving hundreds of artisans and craftsmen. Raffles London at The OWO is truly unique. There is no other building like it in London and certainly no other hotel like it in London. It’s a truly spectacular and breath-taking property and will be one of the most significant openings in the UK for years to come.

Our priority now is to establish Raffles as the benchmark for ultra-luxury in London.

Gracious service is one of the key traits of the Raffles brand, and we will be placing a lot of emphasis on ensuring we have the right team, feeling and culture in place – bringing together avant-garde chefs, progressive wellness specialists and new generation hoteliers to create a vibrant and inclusive new destination.

Raffles London at The OWO is a once in a generation opportunity to create a unique destination, a flagship for the extraordinary and revered Raffles brand and a new cultural and culinary epicentre for London.

What trends are shaping the luxury experience industry?

Luxury has changed – we have come a long way from when formality, excess and physical product defined luxury. In hospitality our guests want to feel – they want to be at the centre of their experience. Our well-travelled guests expect a luxurious experience to have a meaningful impact on them as a person: they seek to be educated or even transformed into a state of comfortable wonderment. Luxury is about spending precious moments together with friends and family of all generations. Post pandemic, the attitude is to make every trip and experience count.

In terms of more tangible trends, sustainability and wellness continue to feed through all aspects of luxury. High luxury is evolving and today sustainability is a luxury value. Conscious business and ‘positive luxury’ is key and ethical luxury is rising in all sectors, not just travel & hospitality. We believe that the notion of hospitality is inseparable from the notion of responsibility: not only welcoming people, but also taking care of people, the communities and world around us.

We have seen a super acceleration of the adoption of the wellness and wellbeing practice over the past two years, within all demographics. For Accor we look at six big key pillars of wellness: movement, your body, spa, nutrition, mindfulness and meditation, space design and lastly, digital or ‘responsible digital’ – how we deliver wellness and wellbeing content and use technology to enhance wellness for our guests. Wellness is no longer a trend, it’s a fundamental part of the hospitality experience.

What brands do you most admire for their communications and marketing initiatives and why?

My most recent favourite is Gucci love parade campaign.

Gucci – Gucci Love Parade | Facebook

This effortlessly creates a sense of experience, exclusivity and desire. Incredible art-direction, music and 360 activation.