Hospitality veterans are some of the most discerning travellers themselves. At the recent launch of Hyatt Centric Janakpuri New Delhi, we caught up with Peter Fulton, Group President, EAME/Southwest Asia, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, to gain insights into his travels and the evolving landscape of global hospitality. By Sumeet Keswani
T+L India: Your long career in hospitality has made you travel around the planet. Which places have made the biggest impression on you?
Peter Fulton: I’m going to restrict this to India, as the country is so vast and the experiences and destinations are so diverse that I can keep speaking of them. We spent three days at the Maha Kumbh Mela in 2013, and it is an experience unlike any other. The spirituality in the air, the people, the arrangements for over 100 million people attending—it was awe-inspiring. Assam is another experience that has stayed with me. I remember sitting in a hut, chatting with locals, while drinking millet beer that was still brewing in a bamboo shoot. Then, catching Mahseer fish in Rishikesh and cooking it ourselves. And one can’t not mention visiting some of India’s stunning palace hotels like Samode Palace.
T+L India: Which are your favourite Hyatt hotels around the world?
Peter Fulton: My picks—and it’s difficult to make a selection because there are so many favourites—would be Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme, with its Michelin-starred culinary creations and understated elegance; Park Hyatt Tokyo, with its beautiful views of Mount Fuji; and Grand Hyatt Dubai, because of the many years associated with the hotel—I arrived in 1997 and [it] feels like I never left.
T+L India: Can you reflect on some hospitality trends we may see in the near future?
Peter Fulton: We listened to our hotel owners and managers, and we are innovating to help them find new ways to generate revenue in these challenging times, reimagining spaces and creating an environment for guests to relax and work in, all while preserving the guest experience Hyatt is known for. Since the pandemic began, consumer priorities have changed and so has their behaviour. We are seeing different behaviour when it comes to pure business travel. After talking to many of our customers, we learned that the number of trips will reduce but the length of stays might extend. Times of challenge have pushed the industry to innovate faster, think creatively, and find new ways to generate revenue based on evolving guest priorities. We have introduced ‘Together by Hyatt’, a new suite of event offerings that is expanding the reach of events across the globe through innovative hybrid solutions that focus on safety, well-being, and innovative technology.
T+L India: How do you marry sustainability with luxury in hospitality?
Peter Fulton: We support responsible travel and aim for us and our guests to form deeper connections with local communities and the environment. From setting up water-bottling plants at many of our hotels in India, such as Alila Diwa Goa, ensuring [that] we use less plastic, to upselling linen to make bags at Hyatt Centric Janakpuri New Delhi, to water harvesting across multiple hotels—there are many initiatives that we’ve introduced. Additionally, while delivering high-quality service is key, delivering high-quality care is essential. Bricks and mortar are easily copied, but human and team traits are not—and these personal, authentic connections have been more important than ever against the backdrop of the pandemic.
T+L India: You worked for four years in New Delhi in the late 1990s. What changes have you observed since then?
Peter Fulton: Today’s India is a totally different country. The people and their warmth have remained the same, but the F&B landscape has exploded; it’s far more international and experimental. There is a whole new spectrum of experiences and expectations that you deal with in today’s Delhi. Which makes it all the more interesting for us in hospitality, as it allows us to experiment and innovate and not stagnate.
T+L India: What are the most luxurious holidays you have ever taken?
Peter Fulton: I would definitely include my holiday in New Zealand when we went fly-fishing; it’s one of the most beautiful countries to visit. The absolutely luxurious stay on a rice boat in Kerala. Then there was Tiger Tops in Nepal, which marries sustainability perfectly with luxury. The Maldives as a destination is unmatched by most beaches. Finally, the Mandarin Oriental Marrakech—you’re surrounded by olive gardens, the villas are modelled on Moroccan riads, and you walk through gardens that are dotted with fig and apricot trees.
T+L India: Are there any places on your wish list?
Peter Fulton: The list is quite long. I would like to see and experience more of the Northeast (India); I think I’ve only had a glimmer of its pristine beauty in Assam. Kashmir is a must-visit [place]. Burma, Africa, Argentina, Alaska, and Mongolia are all on my wish list. Since we can travel without hesitation again, I’m hoping to see many of these destinations.