Five, a word that particularly excites those under 35. From Dubai where the first title appeared, the hotel group co-founded by Indian entrepreneur duo Aloki Batra and Kabir Mulchandani, has surprised the ecosystem by fuming the way vacations are spent. The brand has gone so far as to create its own music label to produce artists and welcome superstar DJs. On the occasion of its first European establishment in Zurich, Forbes spoke with CEO of FIVE Hotels, Aloki Batra. A man of vision deals with both cold and work.
What were the steps that led you to launch the FIVE Hotels concept?
Alokai Patra : I started in the luxury real estate business by overseeing the sale of properties in Palm Jumeirah in Dubai for approximately $400 million. If I join the hospitality world, it is thanks to my childhood friend Kabir Moulchandani, President and Founder of FIVE, a very dear person to me. My companion asked me to come together to imagine a disruptive group resolutely driven by a distinctive vision and experiences. I like to vow to think “outside the box”, because I want to “disrupt” the ecosystems in which I develop. Thus, I launched FIVE Music, a true music label to offer different lifestyle experiences that would become an icon for our institutions all over the world. So my philosophy was to combine entertainment, gastronomy and art of living to create places and concepts capable of becoming a ‘destination within a destination’. The penthouse takes the pulse of Dubai at night from the hotel’s rooftop. The Maiden Shanghai Table is an amazing award winning experience; Soul Street at FIVE Jumeirah Village and FIVE Zurich is a world tour into the world of delicious cuisine.
In our speeches, I also wanted to emphasize musical programming in order to enhance this truly unique aspect. By establishing our own brand, we were responding to my vision of bringing together a global audience of music lovers on our stages, whether it was on the beach by FIVE or on the rooftop at The Penthouse. We also do this with digital leverage over our FIVE Music Spotify playback tracks. Today, we welcome the world’s most popular DJs like Lost Frequencies, Dimitri Vegas, Like Mike, Disciples, Klingande and Craig David, to name a few. At FIVE, music is at the heart of our demos: more than 20 venues a week come alive to the beats of our world-famous or emerging artists. Finally, we’re also funneling that festive air into our Fly FIVE private jet!
What convinced you to launch your concept in Dubai, a city full of lifestyle experiences?
Five is a unique destination! An unparalleled experience combining the best of food, music and entertainment, from sunrise by the pool to sunset on the rooftop. The festive spirit permeates the place. This is exactly why FIVE stands out in Dubai’s hotel scene thanks to its community of worshippers, dubbed ‘FIVER’. At every getaway, these Epicureans are systematically staying at FIVE in Dubai. Now, with FIVE Zurich in Europe, we plan to export our inimitable energy internationally. We are intent on cultivating our unique DNA.
Aloki Patra: We are simply the place to be seen and seen!”
What are the biggest challenges you faced in publishing on the site?
In Dubai, FIVE operates in a very diverse competitive ecosystem, the destination is full of gastronomical experiences, independent hotels and big brands, and the nightlife is very lively. There are concepts that are the best in their segments, and FIVE ultimately competes with all of these places. Our signature is to provide an exceptional atmosphere unmatched anywhere else. From conception to operation through customer services, we are breaking records! why ? Because we are both pioneers and pioneers. Some numbers to enlighten you: In 2021, the average occupancy rate peaked at 95%, compared to an average occupancy rate of around 78% for the rest of the city’s hotel portfolio. Since the beginning of the year, the two addresses in the wallet (which will soon have a third in the vicinity) have maintained this unparalleled number by attracting over 192 different nationalities!
You love insisting on the “unique” aspect of FIVE Hotels. Why exactly?
Fife is without a doubt a one-of-a-kind destination… an immersive 360-degree sensory experience that ignites all of your senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. Our addresses are set up in emblematic locations that offer stunning views, we welcome world-renowned DJs, take great care of our interiors which are gems of design, and offer a wide range of award-winning delicacies (Italian cuisine, Asian cuisine…). Five is an experimental entertainment platform that you must live according to the codes of luxury. This lifestyle is able to respond to the tastes, moods and desires of a very demanding global audience. This is what makes us special.
Why did you head to Zurich for your first European opening? We would have preferred to expect you in Cannes or Ibiza specifically.
Why Switzerland? Looking at fiscal 2021, Swiss nationals were among our top five markets. Indeed, we are excited to open in Zurich! For others, Cannes and Ibiza may be the obvious choice, but at Fife we believe Zurich is a destination untouched by these kinds of addresses and experiences. The Swiss are known to be demanding, informed and often on-the-go customers, after all they are the ideal customers to discover FIVE’s innovative offerings. Thus, we will move our successful locations such as The Penthouse, Maiden Shanghai and Soul St. to Zurich. Other innovative concepts such as The Vault and Tune In will modernize the local market as well as the luxury travel sector on a global scale. We will also benefit from our other key markets such as the UK, Germany and France.
However, we are down to earth and aware of the high demand for what we do. No matter where people are in the world, they’ve heard of FIVE. We know 75% of our customers are under the age of 35 and visit us to experience the FIVE Vibe they see on Instagram. This means that if they are in Dubai, they will come to us, and if they are in Zurich, they will come to FIVE Zurich.
We are simply the place to be seen and seen!
While waiting for the opening in France, what does FIVE Zurich look like?
Home to 87 luxurious suites and rooms with views of the city or lush forests, FIVE aims to bring the natural side of Zurich to life. The hotel also features seven world-class restaurants, a rooftop nightclub and a buzzing outdoor pool that will be a social spot. There is also a luxury spa with an indoor pool. We have combined the best of Swiss hospitality and FIVE’s DNA to provide a great experience for Zurich residents and international visitors. We want to create a sense of belonging in the title.
Our presence on social networks undoubtedly contributes to the development of this feeling, some of our videos have reached 60 million views via hashtags! Our digital marketing strategy is boosting direct bookings from the website, which increased from 25% in 2019 to 60% in 2021. We are also proud to have “Great Places to Work,” a true benchmark rating. FIVE has been recognized as the best hotel company operating in the United Arab Emirates.
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