Sep. 11, 2015


Gordon Campbell Gray

Lebanon

Gordon Campbell Gray

Founder & Chairman, Campbell Gray Hotels

TBY talks to Gordon Campbell Gray, Founder & Chairman of Campbell Gray Hotels, on Lebanon's strategic location, how to recruit talent, and how the hotel's brand was developed.

BIO

Gordon Campbell Gray is the Chairman of Campbell Gray Hotels and was the creative force behind One Aldwych in London and Carlisle Bay in Antigua in the West Indies. He is currently involved in the development of several hotels worldwide and is an advisor to various companies. He is a trained hotelier and gained his initial experience working in large hotel companies. He spent several years running Save the Children projects in Bangladesh, Morocco and Nicaragua and is currently Vice-President of Save the. He sits on the boards of various charities, and is an ardent fundraiser on their behalf. He is a columnist, writing for various publications. He was recently named Hotelier of the Year in the United Kingdom, was given the Leading Legend award by Leading Hotels of the World at their annual convention in Tokyo, and was also recently given the Outstanding Contribution to the Hotel Industry award at the Hotel Cateys in London.

What impact does Le Gray's strategic location in downtown Beirut have on the guests' experience?

When people say that location is of utmost importance, in most cases this really is absolutely true. Situated where were are, on Martyrs' Square at the main entrance of downtown Beirut, which used to be one of the historical gates—Bab El Serail—we are ideally located for access to the business district, shopping, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, which makes it ideal for both business and leisure. The very fact that guests can just walk out and are within minutes of what they want to see and do without having to take a taxi is a huge advantage. It is, of course, equally important for the local clientele to be able to access us so easily.

What is the concept and philosophy behind Le Gray's design and how did it evolve?

The concept was very much about creating an original hotel that was designed for Beirut. As a high-energy and sexy city, we really wanted Le Gray to be part of this and become a hotel that truly belonged in such an environment with its pool, restaurants, and terraces; a real meeting spot and hub in Beirut. I never want our hotels to be trendy or super fashionable, but rather they are created to be modern classics as our philosophy is very much based on being built to last. With its design and extensive art collection, we wanted it to have a sense of individuality and excitement, and it has been proven that whether it be relaxing in the Cigar Bar, having dinner on one of our terraces, or partying at Cherry on the Rooftop, the Lebanese were ready for it.

Efficient and well-trained human capital is one of the key success factors in the hospitality industry. What is Le Gray's approach to human resources?

This is my favorite area. I love the staff. For me, taking a team and training, inspiring, and leading them is one of my greatest passions. I love the Lebanese, their attitude to service, and their attitude to life. They have made creating Le Gray one of the greatest pleasures I have had experienced in creating a new hotel. It is a joy to see how they work as a professional, closely-knit team, and they are truly our secret weapon.

What trends in Lebanon's boutique hotel sector can you identify and what is your vision for the future of this segment over the medium term?

I don't think that boutique hotels in any way are a trend. It is absolutely a change of desire on behalf of the traveler to have a much greater sense of individuality and originality. It is now possible to travel to almost anywhere in the world and be able to source individual, unusual, creative, and often privately owned and much loved hotels. There is something special about private ownership, which not surprisingly is where so many of the great hotels of the world began and where the pride in personal and special service is the prime focus. At Campbell Gray Hotels, we are aware that we must be ready for the arrival of the intelligent guest. We focus on issues relating to the environment and believe that the future of hotels is about providing great comfort without excess; I never believe that excess is luxurious and neither does the intelligent guest.

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