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REGENT HOTELS & RESORTS - Past, Present and Future
Regent is an iconic name in the global hospitality industry. Born in Asia in the 1970s, it became the world’s most admired hotel brand and for many years set the benchmark for luxury hotels worldwide.
The brand was started by legendary hotelier Robert H Burns as a joint venture with Japan’s Tokyu Group in 1970. Mr. Burns became chairman and CEO of the group and was joined in the early years by industry leaders George Rafael and Adrian Zecha (who later founded Amanresorts).
Together with Zecha and Rafael, Burns developed and expanded the Regent brand to become the first truly Asia-based global hospitality group in an industry previously dominated by European and American brands. Regent injected high-quality Asian hospitality standards into all their hotels worldwide.
From 1970 to 1979, the company managed a number of prominent hotels globally, but it was with the opening of the flagship Regent Hong Kong in 1981 that it became a pre-eminent brand worldwide.
With a prime location on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront and a spectacular grandstand view of Hong Kong Island, Regent Hong Kong quickly became the world’s most admired hotel. Synonymous with impeccable service, the hotel was consistently honoured with prestigious awards and spawned a series of similarly elegant and luxurious Regent hotels in iconic destinations around the world.
The Regent Hong Kong was also the first hotel to introduce the five-fixture
bathroom. Burns, together with Zecha and George Rafael, realised that when business travellers stay at a hotel, the place they spend most of their time apart from the bed is the bathroom. So they decided to enlarge the bathroom and divide it into wet and dry sections, and separate the shower from the bathtub. This seemingly simple idea was new at the time and has since become standard for five star hotels.
Besides practical innovation, Regent Hotels became synonymous with glamour and style, and became playgrounds for celebrities and international sophisticates.
In the golden years of the 1980s and 1990s, the Regent Hotels & Resorts group opened 17 hotels over 22 years, including the celebrated Regent Beverly Wilshire. Originally built in 1928, it was bought and magnificently restored in 1985 to its rightful place at the centre of Los Angeles’ vibrant social scene. The hotel was also selected as the setting for one of the most successful movies of all time: “Pretty Woman,” starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere.
Other Regent highlights included the magnificent Regent New York (now The Four Seasons New York) which was built in 1991 and became the new benchmark for luxury hotels in New York, and the Regent Bali (now the Four Seasons Bali), which was built in 1992 on a spectacular hilltop setting overlooking Jimbaran Bay. This Bali resort was the first where each “room” was its own separate villa with a private pool, which again set new standards that became in time the norm for the very top of the luxury resort market.
In 1992, the Regent brand was acquired by Four Seasons and merged under the Four Seasons Group. Many of the original Regent hotels, such as The Regent New York and The Regent Bali, then re-branded to Four Seasons.
In 1997, Regent again changed hands, and was acquired by the privately-owned Carlson Hospitality Group. During this period, Carlson also integrated its luxury cruise line under the Regent brand and launched Regent Seven Seas Cruises, bringing Regent’s elevated standards of service to the cruise industry.
In 2010, Regent returned to its Asian roots, with an acquisition by Formosa International
Hotels Corporation (FIH), the largest and most profitable hotel company listed on the Taiwan Stock Exchange.
FIH has historic connections with the Regent brand; FIH is the original owner of the Regent Taipei, which has consistently ranked the leading hotel in Taipei.
Steven Pan, Chairman of FIH, noted that his family’s long association with the brand provided him with a unique understanding of its origins, and a commitment to the exceptional service and understated elegance that Regent represents.
“We were here when Regent’s founders brought their concepts and values to life, and we have nurtured those traditions in our hotel,” he commented.
Pan has bold plans to return the brand to its iconic status. He invited the original founder Robert H Burns as Honorary Chairman to serve as the brand’s guiding light. He also appointed global luxury hotelier Ralf Ohletz President of the Regent brand. Ohletz’ visionary industry experience includes collaborating with another original Regent founder, Adrian Zecha, to develop some of the world’s most innovative hotel and resort concepts over the past 20 years.
“Regent was born in Asia, has strong brand recognition in Asia, and is now coming home to Asia,” added Mr Pan.
Expansion in Greater China, through both acquisition and management in partnership with leading developers, is a key to his ambitious plans – with the international cities of Shanghai and Hong Kong and the leading resort destination of Hainan among the top targets.
Also on the Regent radar are major global gateway cities such as New York, Paris and London.
“We will return to the gateway cities of the world,” said Mr. Pan. “We are well positioned to bring a great brand opportunity to the hotel investment community.
“We look forward to restoring the original Regent precepts of timeless design and intuitive service to the luxury end of the business. Our goal is simply to again be the most admired luxury hotel brand in the world.”
Pan’s concept is for Regent is to create grand hotels, bespoke, often with mixed-use developments including signature restaurants and spas, along with luxury residential developments and extensive retail spaces.
“The original Regent concept was based on perfecting the art of ‘the 3 B’s’ - bed, bath and breakfast. Now we are adding a fourth ‘B’ to the equation:
Six Regent hotels currently in operation are located in Beijing, Singapore, Berlin, Zagreb, Turks & Caicos and Taipei.
Pipeline hotel projects are under development in Abu Dhabi, Bali, Doha, Kuala Lumpur, Montenegro and Phuket.
Regent is a global luxury hospitality brand encompassing hotels, resorts, residences and cruises. In 2010, the Regent brand returned to its Asian roots with its acquisition by Taipei-based Formosa International Hotels Corporation (FIH). Regent Hotels & Resorts currently operates hotels in Beijing, Taipei, Singapore, Berlin, Zagreb and Turks and Caicos, with hotels and resorts under development in Bali, Phuket, Kuala Lumpur, Montenegro, Doha and Abu Dhabi. Florida-based Regent Seven Seas Cruises operates an award-winning fleet of medium-sized luxury cruise ships that visit over 300 ports worldwide.
In 2011, all Regent managed hotels were selected in Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers Choice awards for the best luxury hotels in the world, being the first international luxury hotel group to achieve this recognition. For more information, visit
For Information Contact:
MMGY Global (New York)
Elisa Fershtadt / Ryan McKeon
Tel: +1 646-442-6775/+1 646-442-6776
CatchOn (Hong Hong)
Paul Calder / Angela Wong
Tel: +852 2566 8988
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Regent Hotels & Resorts Global Portfolio Honored in Condé Nast Traveler’s World’s Best Awards >
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