There's a new kid on the international hotel block.
Launched this past May, Cachet Hotel Group is a management company with big plans that include hotel and residential management; restaurants and bars; and an online travel and hospitality platform, called Cachet World, that aims to bring more integration to the tourism experience in Asia, according to CEO and co-founder Alexander Mirza.
"We believe the travel experience, especially in Asia, is still very fragmented and disjointed," says Mirza, who has worked in hospitality for a decade, including in senior positions with Hilton and Starwood.
"[Other] hotel companies address transportation, restaurants and tourism the old-school way, through concierge services, and we believe the huge growth in tourism in Asia creates an opportunity to provide a more integrated and personalized experience."
We believe the huge growth in tourism in Asia creates an opportunity to provide a more integrated and personalized experience
Its first hotel property is Shanghai's URBN, a brand the company intends to expand, while rolling out two new innovative luxury hotel groups - r. and Cachet - both of which promise to offer travellers in Asia a high-end boutique alternative. CHG also plans eventual expansion to other parts of the world, including North America.
Each of the hotel brands will have its own unique offering. Eco-chic URBN prides itself on being green; the forthcoming r. will be cutting-edge, for "young-at-heart explorers who are early adopters of new technologies," while the eponymous Cachet line will focus on all-inclusive luxury.
Cachet's next project is to redesign Shanghai's URBN. The process, planned for this month, will be spearheaded by celebrity designer Jay Godfrey, son of Postmedia president and CEO Paul Godfrey, who will act as head designer for all three of Cachet's hotel brands.
"We are positioning URBN as China's green brand," says New York-based Godfrey. "It's a very loft-like experience. Very clean lines. We're doing a great emphasis on modern art in terms of photography." The redesign will feature reclaimed wood and brick from local areas.
Opened in 2008, the 26-room Shanghai URBN, China's first carbon-neutral hotel, has environmental features such as passive solar heating and energy-efficient water-based air conditioning, but doesn't scrimp on comfort, with its king-sized beds and flat-screen televisions.
Godfrey is best known for his clothing line, carried by high-end retailers, and worn by celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez, Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift.
In thinking through URBN, Godfrey had to resist some of his design instincts, but welcomed the challenge: "As a fashion designer doing an interior property, I love the idea of doing things like cowhide and Mongolian lamb pillows. But that's not really something you can use in a green hotel. When you source materials like hardwood floors or paint or lighting fixtures, you do so in a way that is friendly to the environment, pleasing but also fashion-forward."
The next big development for Cachet will be its flagship project in Bangkok. The Cachet Hotel & Residences brand plans to launch in 2016 with a 27-storey mixed-use property with 224 serviced apartments and 70 luxury hotel rooms, concert venue and more.