Original founder of Regent Hotels and Resorts returns to Asia


TAIPEI, Taiwan – Following the acquisition of Regent Hotels & Resorts from privately-held Carlson Hospitality Group and Brussels-based Rezidor Hotel Group, Formosa International Hotels Corporation (FIHC) ( http://www.grandformosa.com.tw/ ), the largest and most profitable hotel company listed on the Taiwan Stock Exchange (2707.TW), announced a new global leadership team for Regent Hotels & Resorts.

FIHC succeeded over 20 other bidders for the brand including some of the world’s leading luxury hotel groups and developers during six months of intensive competition. FIHC prevailed because it has a long history with the Regent brand as the original owner of the Regent Taipei. The hotel was conceptualized by Regent founder Robert Burns and stylized after the iconic Regent Hong Kong. FIHC has grown to become a leading luxury hotel group in greater China, with its flagship Regent Taipei consistently the most profitable Regent hotel in the world.

“Regent was born in Asia, has strong brand recognition here, and is now coming home to Asia,” said Steven Pan, chairman of Regent and FIHC.

The new Regent chairman Steven Pan sets out to restore the brand to its former glory with the same global mix of leadership directly linked to the original Regent DNA. He announces the appointment of founder Robert Burns as honorary chairman to serve as the brand’s visionary. Ralf Ohletz will serve as President. Ohletz previously worked with Regent co-founder Adrian Zecha for 25 years creating some of the world’s most groundbreaking hotels such as the Sukhothai Bangkok and the Setai in Miami.

Regent was founded in the 1970s by American Robert H. Burns, with Adrian Zecha, an Asian, (who later founded Aman Resorts) and Georg Rafael, an European, who made it the world’s most admired luxury hotel brand; the team was the first to introduce the five-fixture bathroom and the villa resort concept, which have since become luxury hotel standards. It was also the first truly Asian-based global hospitality group in an industry that had previously been dominated by European and American brands.

Burns is a native of New York and has spent six decades in the hotel industry. He began his career in the late 1940s at the Waldorf-Astoria while attending New York University. In the 1970s, he founded Regent International Hotels in Hong Kong along with Adrian Zecha and Georg Rafael. Over 22 years, the group opened 17 luxury hotels in key locations around the world.

Ohletz is a native of Germany where he attended the School of Hotel Administration in Heidelberg. He later attended the Cornell School of Hotel Administration before launching his career at the London Hilton. He subsequently worked at some of the world’s leading hotels including: The Oriental Singapore, The Mandarin Hong Kong, and The Pierre in New York. He began a long collaboration with Zecha as part of the development team for Beaufort Hotels. In 1992, Ohletz once again joined Zecha at GHM Hotels where he was responsible for such admired luxury hotels as The Datai, Langkawi; The Chedi, Muscat; The Legian, Bali; and The Setai, Miami.

In the company’s golden years of the 1980s and 1990s, Regent properties were among some of the world’s most acclaimed hotels, such as the iconic Regent Hong Kong and Regent Beverly Wilshire. Properties under development in New York, Bali, Milan, and Istanbul were later opened as Four Seasons when the brand was sold to Four Seasons and then Carlson.

The new Regent development focus will be partnering only with the very top developers and owners, creating bespoke mixed use properties and ensuring the pride of ownership. “As we bring Regent back home to Asia,” said Pan, “expansion in Asia is a natural for us, and China will play a critical role as a rapidly growing economic superpower.”

Regent also looks to return to gateway cities in Regent history such as Hong Kong, New York, Los Angeles, London, and Shanghai in addition to the pipeline projects in Abu Dhabi, Bali, Bangkok, Doha, Dubrovnik, Gurgaon, Kuala Lumpur, Maldives, Phuket, and Puerto Rico. The existing Regents are located in Beijing, Berlin, Bordeaux, Taipei, Turks & Caicos, Singapore, and Zagreb.