A hotel in a former regional tax office, in this case Hamburg’s Oberfinanzdirektion, did not sound sexy initially. However, that changed as soon as the Singapore-based Fraser Hospitality Group turned a historic neo-baroque building into its new flagship in Europe and invested accordingly. The group operates nine luxury hotels in London, two in Paris and one “Capri by Fraser” hotel in Berlin and Frankfurt not to mention branches in China, Australia and in nearly all corners of the globe. As Hamburg is an international “Gate to the World”, the city is clearly “the place to be”, said Olivier Briand, 46, Hotel Director. Ultimately, a prime property on the Alsterfleet, a direct link to the Rödingsmarkt underground railway station within walking distance of Lake Alster, the port, as well as exclusive shopping malls and retailers proved the deciding factor.
Modern twist and historical atmosphere
The 154 suites and rooms, many of which boast state-of-the-art technology and fully equipped kitchens, means Fraser Suites is eyeing not only tourists and business travellers, but also guests who wish to spend longer periods in Hamburg. Perhaps they are working on weeks-long projects or their careers have taken them to the city. Fraser Suites Hamburg now offers them a base from which they can plan their next move in comfort and at their ease. “We would like to create a small piece of home for such guests with their own apartment and thus a very special home. We have accentuated the great historical ambience and given it a modern twist,” Briand stressed.
Historical monument protection
Creating a temporary home i.e. a five-star hotel offering deluxe rooms proved quite a challenge, said the French national, who has spent 14 years working across Frasers Hospitality in various places. Tough historic building protection requirements had to be met during the conversion. “That’s exactly how we turned the Fraser Suite Hamburg into such a unique building,” Briand noted. This attention to detail has resulted in a real “Gatsby” feeling noticeable in the recurring, strong colours and art deco elements of the interior design done by Hamburg’s JOI Design – and on the menus.
Reinterpreting 1920 -2020 recipes
“The Dining Room” restaurant is run by the Briton Daniel Thompson, who was previously chef at Buckingham Palace and at the U.S. president’s summer residence, as well as head chef at Louis C. Jacob and in the Four Seasons where he met his wife. Carolin Thompson, barkeeper and Hamburg’s first female bar manager, is responsible for the bar. Food is cooked and drinks are mixed along the lines of “1920 -2020 – classical recipes”.
Hanseatic pride among applicants
The Thompsons manage the restaurant and bar alone and have rented the 350-square metre area from the hotel. Recruiting the 80 Fraser employees proved a real challenge, said Briand. “We were looking for personalities who would fit in with the Fraser team. The Hanseatic pride of many applicants, who wished to present their city to guests from all over the world by opening an international hotel, proved surprising. The popularity of the business area was also unexpected. “This area has been extremely well received. That was by no means a matter of course in view of laptops and tablets,” he added. Yet a soft opening allows for experiments and adjustments. That’s exactly what has happened and is yielding rewards.
During the soft opening, the hotel was almost fully booked twice, said Briand. Various travel groups from Asia had sent the figures rising and may continue to soar. Hamburg is well known in Asia, but mainly from radio and television rather than through personal travel. However, the city is likely to become even more attractive there as the Fraser Hospitality Group is well established in Asia.
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