What does luxury mean to Ralf Ohletz?

The definition of luxury is very difficult. You need to first understand who your customer is. The Asian customer is here to stay, and it’s the fastest-growing customer, certainly in the luxury business. If you compare the Western customer at a beach resort versus an Asian customer, Asians are much more activity driven. This means that once they’re finished — because by 10 a.m., they’re not at the pool anymore, whereas Westerners can sit by the pool all day long — they want to do something else. In Bali, we have conceptualized the rooms with this in mind. Our smallest room is 90 square meters [about 969 square feet] and 25 square meters [about 269 square feet] of that is an outdoor balcony that’s covered and has a screen in front. That was very consciously done because Bali is all about outdoor living — not necessarily living out in the open, but outdoor living.

Sometimes when couples travel, they’ll want to be in the same space but not in the same space. We therefore have two TVs in our normal rooms — one on the balcony because the husband wants to watch football and one in the bedroom because she wants to watch a movie. These are all things that are very usual and have to do with understanding who your customers are.

For someone who pays a lot of money, it’s important that we have this bespoke element, which is to create this magic into a common sense for everybody. Whether you’re Chinese, American or German, quality is quality, and that has to be seen in the product. You don’t see it as “it’s because we want to be different”; you see it very clearly as a product and as a competitive advantage as we reemerge.

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