BHN talks to Hard Rock Hotels’ Josh Littman about the brand’s plans for Europe and converting the Cumberland.
• Can you give us a brief career history up until joining Hard Rock?
“Prior to joining Hard Rock, I worked in real estate economic advisory here in London for several years, covering a wide range of luxury hospitality projects across the globe. Before moving to London, I worked with Kerzner International and Mandarin Oriental.”
• What is your role at Hard Rock and what does your job involve?
“I am the vice president of development (EMEA) for hotels & casinos at Hard Rock International, based in London, and have been with the company for five years. I am responsible for expanding the firm’s portfolio of hotels and casinos in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, which involves the sourcing of opportunities, negotiation of transaction details and participation during the planning stage for any new projects through to pre-opening.”
• Tell us about the Hard Rock portfolio and pipeline in Europe.
“We’re looking forward to upcoming debuts in key international destinations, such as London and Berlin. As Hard Rock was founded in London with the opening of the first Hard Rock Cafe in 1971, we’re excited to open Hard Rock Hotel London just steps away from the original location that started it all.
Germany’s first Hard Rock Hotel is slated for Berlin – located at Checkpoint Charlie. Scheduled to open in 2020, the 372-room city hotel will reflect Berlin’s musical past and spirited present. The mixed-use project will include retail spaces, offices, residences and a curated exhibition space commemorating the history and symbolism of Checkpoint Charlie and the Berlin Wall. As a new-build hotel, the project gives Hard Rock the opportunity to influence design direction and since the hotel is set to rise in an area where the Berlin Wall once stood, this history will be evident in the design of memorabilia and other elements.”
• Does the company own and/ or operate properties? What is the preferred structure?
“We have a variety of structures in place and are willing to work with partners in many ways.”
• Do the casino hotels have a very different guest profile from the non-casino properties? Who are the typical guests in the non-casino hotels?
“Typically, we find that our guests are drawn in by our differentiator – music. As music is a universal language, we welcome guests from all walks of life and remain true to our ‘Love All – Serve All’ brand mantra. While we may have frequent players visiting our casinos, we also have their friends and family joining to enjoy all of the amenities, as our casinos are truly entertainment destinations.”
• Can you tell us about the rebranding of the Cumberland?
“The property is a conversion of the existing Cumberland Hotel, famous for hosting Jimi Hendrix. The upcoming Hard Rock Hotel will be ideally situated in one of the city’s most sought after locations – directly at Marble Arch on Hyde Park and at the crossroads of the iconic Oxford Street and Park Lane. Offering panoramic views over Hyde Park, the 900-room Hard Rock Hotel London is scheduled for completion in summer 2018.”
Josh Littman is speaking at the Boutique and Lifestyle Hotel Summit in London on May 23rd.