by M&C Asia | February 16, 2016
Wedgewood Afternoon Tea at Langham properties around the world is an enduring memory for many visitors of the luxury hotel chain. More than just a leisurely, scrumptious, daytime repast, the teatime tradition serves as a beautifully choreographed example of the deep history that underpins this Hong-Kong-based hotelier. And it is a reflection of the rich, polished service that is a hallmark of any Langham property.

With 16 hotels and resorts in major destinations around the world, Langham Hotels & Resorts, the luxury marque of the Langham Hospitality Group, has an established global presence. But the company doesn't simply focus on the traditional leisure components of plush rooms, fantastic service, unbeatable city locations, and amenities that include the award-winning Chuan Spa. The hotels under the Langham portfolio provide first-rate spaces and facilities for meeting and events in a number of key cities-with more on the way-a fact that might come as a surprise to seasoned planners. 

"Different hotels have different event spaces and design. At The Langham, Hong Kong, we can hold team-building classes learning to make dim sum at our three-star Michelin restaurant, T'ang Court." - Simon Manning, VP, Sales & Marketing.
We have major destinations such as London, New York, Sydney, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Chicago, with over 20 projects currently either confirmed or in a developed stage," explains Hong-Kong-based Simon Manning, vice-president, sales & marketing, Langham Hospitality Group. "Langham Hotels and Resorts is our group's luxury brand. It is one brand, two styles. Distinguished by their distinctive styles, The Langham is classic luxury, grand and timeless while Langham Place reflects modern luxury and understated sophistication."

Langham Hospitality also has the four-star Eaton hotels, and Cordis Hotels & Resorts, the new upscale global brand of curated hotels devoted to the guests' needs and well-being, focusing on the core pillars of intuitive service, connectivity, sophistication and a sense of community. Cordis will feature a combination of conversion and new-build projects.

The company appears to have struck a winning formula. A survey in late 2015 by Luxury Branding, a London-based luxury focused consultancy, ranked Langham Hotels & Resorts fourth among luxury hotel chains, ahead of competitors like Four Seasons. The accolade, however, doesn't mean that the hotelier is ready to rest on its laurels. "We'd like to see new hotels in Washington, D.C., Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco. The UAE is particularly important for our growth. We have recently signed Langham Place, Downtown Dubai and our first resort, The Langham, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai is scheduled to open in 2017. We are in talks to open in Abu Dhabi as part of a region-wide push that is also targeting Oman, Qatar, Doha, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain."

Whatever the location, MICE infrastructure is critical. Langham has a wide range of event spaces that cater to different group sizes and needs and, as Manning puts it, "a dynamic and experienced team that will ensure we come up with a memorable programme." While Langham provides leisure guests its 1865 loyalty programme, where benefits include frequent-flier points or upgrades, online planners can access the firm's dedicated online event platform, called takethelead, with two reward points for every US$1 spent, and a one-stop, personalised service that can manage planning, logistics, dining, and entertainment. "One of our most popular programmes is called Double the Extra Mile'. For qualified events with revenues of US$6,500 or more, meeting and event planners may enjoy double takethelead points or miles from any of the selected frequent flier or travel and lifestyle rewards programme partners," he continues.

Manning proudly points out that the company doesn't follow the cookie-cutter model for events. "Different hotels have different event spaces and design. At The Langham, Hong Kong, we can hold team-building classes learning to make dim sum at our three-star Michelin restaurant, T'ang Court. The Artesian bar also runs mixology classes for MICE groups, they've proven to be very popular." Elsewhere, Langham Place, New York, Fifth Avenue has recently completed 706 square metres of new meeting and event space known as The Gallery at Langham Place, with expansive function and pre-function space, ample space for breakouts and individual work spaces, the highest quality technology available, 95-inch LED screens, free wi-fi, wireless printers, Nespresso machines, and mini-fridges stocked with complimentary water, soft drinks and ice cream. Adding more lustre is the presence of iconic artworks by American modern master Alex Katz that make up Langham Place's permanent collection. Langham Place, Guangzhou boasts the largest ballroom in the city with a combined meeting and event space of nearly 5,000sqm, including the Great Hall, a 2,800sqm, pillar-free ballroom with an eight-metre ceiling and 560sqm reception area.

As important as the impressive spaces is the commitment to technology. "Guests will be able to access free wifi or internet access with a minimum of 4MB bandwidth on an unlimited number of mobile devices or laptops in all Langham guest rooms and social spaces," says Manning. "Efficient internet access is a basic, vital need today, and our guests should not have to pay for it. This will be rolled out to all our hotels from January 2016." He added that LED walls are used as backdrops for events instead of traditional backdrops, which add to the differentiating factor at Langham.

Langham has also set its sights on environmental responsibility. "Reinforcing the group's environmental commitments, the group has partnered with EarthCheck to ensure that the hotel's operations and environmental sustainability efforts are assessed and benchmarked against the best in the travel and tourism industry.

EarthCheck is the world's leading scientific benchmarking, certification, and advisory group for travel and tourism. Our energy intensity has decreased by 12 percent and water intensity by nine percent this year compared to last year's." The group has achieved the gold certification by EarthCheck in eight of its hotels, including those in Auckland, Melbourne, Boston, Pasadena (California), and London. "The Langham, Shanghai, Xintiandi recently completed a series of energy and water conservation projects which resulted in an estimated reduction of 30 percent in energy costs, and 20 percent in water consumption.

It is our aim to achieve an even more sustainable operation in the longer term and we will continue to deliver on our commitment to protect the environment and reduce our environmental footprint." In line with the company's growth and expansion plan, the group targets that all new hotels be EarthCheck certified within two years of opening. Commendable ideals indeed, and the types of far-reaching, ethically driven policies that will help Langham go from strength to strength.