Horst Schulze announced the formation of his new Capella brand at a glamorous gathering in New York last week.
Capella will attempt to cater to the pinnacle of the market. It is founded on the belief that five-star hotels have allowed a niche to open up as they have tried to broaden their appeal. Capella’s facilities will be marketed not merely as hotels but as “resorts and spas”.
The two prestigious Capella resorts in Ireland will both be in County Cork. One will be in the small village of Castlemartyr, the other at Dunboy Castle, Castletownbere.
The Castlemartyr resort will be the slightly bigger of the two. Capella has pledged that it will restore a grand manor house that lies in close proximity to a one thousand-year-old castle.
The resort, which is due to open in December 2006, will boast a total of 106 suites. These will be comprised of 96 standard suites, 6 ‘manor’ suites, 3 one-bedroom VIP suites with a sitting room, and one two-bedroom ‘Presidential Suite’ with both a sitting room and a gallery.
The resort is also slated to include an 18-hole golf course, a spa, three restaurants, a billiards room and a Library Bar.
The Dunboy Castle facility is, if anything, even more dramatic, though it is slightly smaller. The Capella spa and resort here will total 78 suites, though only six will be inside the castle itself.
Dunboy Castle was built sometime around 1400 by the O’Sullivan Beare clan. Local historians claim that it was one of the centers of import and export to Ireland until 1602. Then, the British monarch of the time, Elizabeth I, sent a 2000-strong army to take the castle. The castle was defended by only 143 men who held fast for two weeks. Dunboy Castle was, however, eventually overrun.
Capella now promises to transform the castle, while also keeping true to its original spirit. The location will also boast a wine bar, two restaurants, a spa and a cigar terrace. Like the Capella resort in Castlemartyr, Dunboy Castle is also expected to open for business in December 2006.
The two other Capella resorts will be in Mexico, one in Cabo St Lucas and the other in Punta Nizic.
Announcing the launching of the brand in New York’s TimeWarner Center at Columbus Circle, Schulze contended that “the needs and desires of today’s top-tier consumer have changed. Capella will be focused on choice – and we will offer choices that no other hotel in the world can match.”
Expanding on that theme, Schulze added, “Luxury hotels today require their guests to choose in advance the type of experience they will enjoy. The hotel’s style and service determine that experience. It’s time for the customer to determine the experience.”
Apparently following on from that, one of the choices available to guests at the Dunboy Castle resort and spa will be the availability of helicopters to transport them to and from Waterville Golf Links.
Some industry insiders may question whether there really is sufficient room at the highest end of the market to sustain a brand like Capella. But Schulze’s experience suggests it would be foolish to bet against him.
He spent almost twenty years with the Ritz-Carlton Group beginning as VP of Operations in 1983. He became president and COO only five years later, and went on to become Vice-Chairman of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company between 2001 and 2002.
Schulze has spent his life in the hospitality industry – he began the climb up the corporate ladder from a position as general manager of a Hyatt Hotel
Schulze left the helm of the Ritz-Carlton operation to launch his own company in 2002. Several Ritz-Carlton executives went with him, and together they formed The West Paces Group. Earlier this year, West Paces announced its first brand, Solis Hotels And Resorts. The first Solis hotel is not expected to open until 2007.
At the launch of Capella, Schulze also made clear that the branding of the two ventures would remain entirely separate. Though the climate remains tough in the hotel industry, Schulze and his partners are betting big on their success.
Phil Keb, Executive VP of the West Paces Hotel Group, also revealed to the Echo that the group is looking at more investment in Ireland.
“We have looked at Waterford Castle, we are still trying to get a business deal done there, and we are trying to get another one also,” he said.