Since 2002, the Ovolo Hotel Group has established itself as one of the leading independent operators of hotels and serviced apartments in Hong Kong. The company has been known to be innovative when it comes to the overall design and services it offers to customers. Ovolo is a Hong Kong-based, family-owned and privately operated business but is now expanding its reach to an international audience. The company now owns and operates eight hotels and two serviced apartments, spread across Hong Kong, Melbourne and Sydney.
The inspiration for innovation is usually something unique, bold or at least seen from a new perspective. But that’s what makes Ovolo Hotel Group so different. This year, the company is awarded in the “Innovative Designer Hotels” category at the Hong Kong Business High Flyers Awards, and it is an accolade that is very well-deserved.
One of its innovative developments is the Ovolo Southside, Hong Kong’s first New York-style warehouse-turned-hotel. Located within a former industrial building, the hotel is an interactive design stage showcasing contemporary art against a backdrop of industrial-inspired interior design.
Alongside regularly changing displays of experimental art and high-impact LED wall art, Ovolo has enlisted talented artists from around the world to contribute to this revolutionary art hub. The ultimate destination for a choice cut from the creative industries, the 162-room hotel is located in Wong Chuk Hang, once a centre for heavy industry and now a revitalised artists’ quarter, home to studios, galleries, bars and boutiques.
Ovolo is keeping its attention firmly on the pulse of the city and this keeps them abreast of the next big trend. The group bought the building of the Ovolo Southside over six years ago. At that time, nobody was talking about Wong Chuk Hang in any other context outside of Ocean Park and warehouses. But then, a lot of art galleries began to open or move there and people started converting the warehouse space into lofts and private kitchens, and by then Ovolo had in store a bit of nostalgic innovation – exactly what the community of Hong Kong needed.
Another exciting endeavour is the Mojo Nomad Project – a live-in co-working space program – which targets young entrepreneurs, startups and freelancers. The management at Ovolo discovered that young professionals work in a very different way. They don’t want to be beholden to any contracts because they might work in New York and Sydney or another city. It’s a community and an active work place. So far, it’s been quite well-received in Hong Kong and Australia. But the firm has ever-greater ambitious plans, and they’re already looking for more destinations to go, step-by-step.
Creativity at Ovolo didn’t stem from a new approach, rather, it’s an age-old mantra of which the hospitality industry stemmed from – good old customer service.
Good customer service
As Chief Operating Officer Dirk Dalichau commented, “I think the key is we always start with looking from the customers’ perspective. We don’t look at how we serve them at first, but we look at what is important for our customers, how they experience the hotel, and what other elements are really important during their stay and travel. And then we look at how we can serve them in a creative, fun and innovative way. These are the different components and different elements of our hotel.”
Individuality isn’t restricted to the decor, the philosophy of maintaining personality to create what people want extends to the staff of Ovolo as well. “We don’t mind tattoos, earrings, piercings, and coloured hair,” Dalichau explains.
“We allow [our staff] to be themselves, to have their own kind of individuality. We don’t try to restrict them. We want personalities. We want them to make jokes. We want them to be themselves because what is does is it creates a completely different atmosphere, because people feel very comfortable staying with us.”
Judging by the popularity of the Ovolo hotels, this formula is working out very well. So much so that the group has recently opened two new establishments, Ovolo 1888 Darling Harbour and Ovolo Woolloomooloo, both in Sydney, Australia. Art is always an expression of individuality, so it’s no surprise that art is a major part of the Ovolo branding.
The Ovolo Woolloomooloo premises are vibrant and stacked with art. Though there were a lot of restrictions during reconstruction of the heritage building, many consultants made it work. The art is spectacular and has transformed a sleepy place into a vibrant and colourful environment. Apart from working with artists and designers, the group worked with the Australian government which has an initiative that commissions and archives the artworks of artists and the group has seized the opportunity to showcase the art in both establishments and is something Dalichau describes as something that “must be experienced by anyone who’s in the Sydney.”
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