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Fresh Faces: Langham Hospitality COO Bob van den Oord

With more than two decades at Langham Hospitality under his belt, new chief operating officer BOB VAN DEN OORD is as passionate as ever about the group - and it's little wonder given how well Langham properties have handled the COVID-19 pandemic.


Why did you take up this role?    

I am honoured to lead as COO for Langham Hospitality Group.

The promotion represents a homecoming of some sorts for me. Prior to my tenure in London, I was managing director at The Langham, Hong Kong and concurrently took on the corporate role as vice president, brands at corporate level.

I first joined the group in 1999 as resident manager of Le Meridien, Boston (now The Langham, Boston.) 

I am one of those very fortunate people who gets to do what I love. I am passionate and enthusiastic about the brands we have: our ultra-luxury brand, The Langham Hotels & Resorts, and approachable luxury brand, Cordis Hotels & Resorts.

I also feel incredibly fortunate to work with outstanding colleagues who are dedicated and passionate in their service delivery, and care for our guests and each other. This is why the group has been an important part of my life for more than 20 years and will continue to be.


Tell us something people might not know about the Langham Hospitality Group?

The Langham Hospitality Group has luxury hotels located in major cities over four continents (Australia, Europe, North America, Asia).

The group currently has 23 hotels with more than 30 projects currently either confirmed or in a developed stage of negotiation from Asia, Europe and North America to the Middle East.


Tell us one thing that’s coming up at Langham that’s got you excited.

I am really excited about the opening of The Langham, Nymphenburg Residence, Munich. The Langham Nymphenburg Residence, Munich is located within the stately 490-acre imperial estate of Nymphenburg Palace, just a 15-minute drive from the Munich city centre. 

Scheduled to be opened in September 2020, The Langham Nymphenburg Residence, Munich is steeped in royal Bavarian history; guests will enjoy the privacy and exclusivity of this 18th century manor with a privileged location next to the Royal Nymphenburg Porcelain Manufactory which is renowned for exquisite avant-garde and tailor-made designs for four centuries. Offering an exceptional view of the Nymphenburg Palace and the immaculately landscaped gardens, The Langham Nymphenburg Residence, Munich will feature four bedrooms, three living rooms, two wine cellars, seven bathrooms, a home cinema, an elevator and a dining room that seats 12 people comfortably.  

This property is a great addition to our flagship hotel in London for our European portfolio. We are making headways into our expansion into Europe – we will be sharing more news soon but we have our pulse on Venice and Paris, amongst other key European cities.


What makes a successful hotel, and how has Langham handled the COVID-19 crisis?

Beyond the hardware, a successful hotel is about knowing our guests and creating unforgettable memories when they are with us, and constantly engaging with them and understanding their preferences.

For example, during this current pandemic, it is important to actively seek opportunities to care for our guests and members of the public who are self-isolating. Our talented chefs at The Langham, Chicago quickly shared cooking recipes and techniques via social media and the award winning bar Artesian at The Langham, London produced fun videos detailing easy step-by-step cocktail making videos to ease anxiety, and uplift spirits.  

We were not able to celebrate the 155th anniversary of The Langham with our guests physically but we did a 24 hour virtual afternoon tea party where we live streamed content to entertain our guests as they have been telling us via social media how much they miss having afternoon tea celebrations at our hotels. 

Despite the challenges in the travel and hospitality industry, we are doing little things to give back amid the pandemic. Hospitality is a people business, so taking care of people is what we love doing and do best. On the day we celebrated our brand’s 155th anniversary in May, our team at The Langham, London gave out 155 surprise luxury Afternoon Tea gift boxes to everyday heroes in the city, including medical workers, bus and taxi drivers, couriers, and street cleaners, who have been working tirelessly to keep the city moving.

In the rest of the regions, when the pandemic first hit, our hotels in China rapidly mobilized care packages of handwritten encouraging notes, and freshly made pastries and beverages to the medical staff at local hospitals. 

Earlier in May, our colleagues in U.S. also coordinated the distribution of 40,000 surgical masks to area hospitals in Boston, Chicago, New York City and Los Angeles, as a small way to thank our medical professionals for their work.  

We are committed to our communities in which we feel privileged to operate our hotels, and are very thankful to be able to do our part.


Where was the last place you travelled - and where would you like to go next?

The last place I visited was Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Chicago, New York and Boston to collect our Forbes 5 Star awards and see the US operations. It was great to see the teams and our upcoming renovations for The Langham, Boston.

The Langham is housed in the former Federal Reserve Bank, a national landmark in Boston. Whilst the pandemic has delayed that opening, we are now going full steam ahead with an April opening next year.  

I am very excited to return to Hong Kong, which is where I will be heading to next. I really miss this vibrant city and look forward to catching up with friends, and enjoy the great food Hong Kong has to offer. 


What’s one travel experience you’ve had that really stands out?

One travel experience that really stood out for me is Andalucia.

Last year, I also visited Seville, Cordoba, Granada and Malaga. Sun, beach, great food, wine, culture, dance, the arts and super friendly people - what else can one ask for?


What’s your top travel tip?

Don’t plan too much, do and go where the locals go!


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Written by: Bob van den Oord as told to Traveltalk
Published: 1 September 2020

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