For so long synonymous with glamour, sophistication and impeccable service, the world-renowned Regent hotels brand is steeped in heritage. The first Asia-based global hospitality group to successfully challenge the industry’s European and US dominance, the company’s unshakeable belief in simple elegance, peerless comfort and traditional Asian hospitality has been raising the benchmark for luxury hotels for more than 40 years.
Now returned to Asian ownership and engaged in an exciting new development phase, Regent is poised to recapture its position at the forefront of the five-star hotel business.
First launched in 1970 as a joint venture between the legendary hotelier Robert H Burns and the Japanese-owned Tokyu Group, the company’s skilled management of a collection of prominent global hotels quickly established a reputation for innovation and attention to detail.
Some 11 years later, it opened the flagship Regent Hong Kong; a design-led, waterfront property which became the world’s most admired hotel and which spawned other launches in some of the most glamorousparts of the world.
Together with Georg Rafael and Adrian Zecha – who went on to found Amanresorts – Bob Burns laid the foundations for the brand’s enduring success with a blueprint that put top-class cuisine, spacious accommodation and impeccable service at the vanguard of the guest experience.
Rapid expansion; acquisition
During the 1980’s and 1990’s, Regent opened no less than 17 hotels around the world. They included the Regent Beverly Wilshire; sympathetically restored to reflect its 1928 origins and subsequently chosen as the backdrop to the Julia Roberts/Richard Gere movie ‘Pretty Woman.’
Other highlights included the grand opening of the Regent New York in 1991; a beacon of sophistication in one of the chicest cities on earth, and the Regent Bali Resort, built overlooking the spectacular Jimbaran Bay. Once again, Regent’s breakthrough approach to comfort – which included creating a separate villa with private pool for each guest – significantly raised the bar.
In August 1992, the Regent brand was acquired by Four Seasons and many of its most celebrated hotels, including the Regent New York, Regent Sydney and Regent Bali went on to be re-branded as Four Seasons.
Five years later; in 1997, Regent was bought by the privately-owned Carlson Hospitality Group; which brought new standards of service to the cruise sector with the launch of Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
Coming home to Asia
Regent’s 2010 acquisition by FIH Regent Group – the largest and most profitable hotel company listed on the Taiwan Stock Exchange and the owner and operator of The Grand Formosa Regent Taipei -sees a return to Asian ownership and the opening of another ambitious chapter in the brand’s story.
Pipeline hotels are already under development in Abu Dhabi, Doha, Bali, Kuala Lumpur and Phuket and future expansion will focus firmly on Greater China and on key launches in major global gateways such as New York, Paris and London.
With signature restaurants and spas, sophisticated residential developments and state-of-the art retail spaces, FIHC’s new portfolio of unique bespoke properties will - as ever -stay true to the original Regent vision of creating the world’s best luxury hotel brand.
Robert H. Burns was the original founder of Regent International Hotels with Adrian Zeccha and Georg Rafael and is a legendary figure of the hotel industry famed worldwide for setting new benchmarks in luxury hospitality.
A native of New York, his six decades in hotels began in the kitchens and laundries of the Waldorf Astoria in the late 1940s, while attending New York University. In 1970, he founded Regent International Hotels in Hong Kong, building one of the industry’s most renowned luxury brands.
Over 22 years the group opened 17 luxury hotels around the world. The flagship of the group was The Regent Hong Kong, an icon of the industry, combining Asian service excellence with western efficiency and luxury. It was voted ‘best hotel in the world’ in several international awards. He sold his interest in Regent to Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts in 1992.
In 2001, after a five year restoration, he completed his latest project -- the exclusive 21-room Grand Hotel a Villa Feltrinelli on the shores of Lake Garda in Gargnano, one of the most admired luxury hotels in Europe, which he later sold.
Robert H Burns returns to Regent in 2010 as Honorary Chairman.