Christopher Cowdray is the CEO of The Dorchester Collection, a hotel operator based in London that currently has ten luxury hotels in Europe and the United States.
Over the past 30 years Cowdray has managed hotels all over the world. He was the managing director of Claridge’s in London. In 2004, he became the general manager of The Dorchester Hotel in London. Three years later, he gained his current post as CEO of the Dorchester Collection. Cowdray is also a Master Innholder, a Fellow of the Hotel Catering Institute Management Association, an honorary Professor at Thames Valley University and a former Chairman of the British Hospitality Association.
In 2013, Christopher Cowdray was given the Lifetime Achievement Award at the European Hospitality Awards for his accomplishments with the Dorchester Collection. Sometime after that, he gave an interview to Leaders Online in which he talked about his philosophy regarding hotels. In it, he emphasized personalized service and localization.
Cowdray told Leaders Online, “It’s about the personalized service; it’s also about recognition – guests like to be recognized. They also like efficiency of service. It also comes down to the feel and touch of the environment; it’s the style or decor, so it’s how everything is brought together.
Service plays a high component in this, but it needs to be excellent service coupled with the right environment.”
Localization is also important. According to Cowdray, hotel restaurants work best when they appeal to the community. That likely means that they need to serve food the locals would like which increases the potential business the restaurant is likely to get. Serving local dishes also make sense from a tourism standpoint; people who travel to Milan probably want Milanese food.
Cowdray also noted that tourists now want choices in their products, which means they don’t want just the same few brands or products. Spas, for instance, may be offered under a brand name like Dior or under the hotel’s name. It depends on what the guests of a given hotel prefer.
The Dorchester Collection was established in 2006 and began with five hotels: The Dorchester Hotel in London, The Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, Le Meurice in Paris, Hotel Plaza Athénée in Paris, and Hotel Principe di Savoia in Milan. Since then, the Collection has acquired five more hotels with the most recent being Rome’s Hotel Eden, which was bought in 2013.