When it comes to the hotel industry, there are few who can match the impeccable track record of Adrian Zecha. The 84-year-old has had a hand in some of the region’s leading hotel groups, from Regent International Hotels – one of Asia’s first luxury hotel chains – to the ultra-luxe Aman Resorts.
Not one to rest on his laurels, Indonesia-born Zecha has drawn on his extensive travel expertise to embark on a whole new adventure. In February this year, he opened the Azerai Luang Prabang in Laos – the first of many Azerai properties to come. With its focus on affordable luxury, the brand marks a slight shift in approach for Zecha, whose reputation was established through creating some of the most exclusive properties in Asia.
Located on the site of the former French Officers’ Quarters, the Azerai Luang Prabang offers 53 open-plan rooms housed in two low-rise buildings that take inspiration from the town’s traditional French and Laotian architecture. And with a wellness centre, a gym, a courtyard pool and a bistro serving up French and Laotian plates, it ticks all the boutique luxury boxes, too.
Today, Zecha’s focus is firmly on this new chapter in his story. Here, he tells us about his latest undertaking and the secret behind a successful hotel.
What’s the inspiration behind the new Azerai brand?
We are convinced that the notion of luxury – once the sole domain of high-net-worth individuals – has now permeated to the masses, and we feel that it is an opportune time to address this.
What’s your most memorable travel experience?
Travelling from west to east across Bhutan in 1987, on the country’s only road. Back then, it was like being where no one else had been.
Which destination is at the top of your travel bucket list?
The South Pole. It intrigues me as it’s the southernmost point of the earth.
In your opinion, what makes a great hotel?
What’s the best piece of travel advice that anyone has ever given you?
Someone told me to feel, and not just see, new places.
What are three of your favourite spots in South-East Asia, and why?
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This article originally appeared in the May 2017 issue of Silkwinds magazine