IHIF 2020 Patron Sponsor and Speaker Interview: Anthony Mallows, President and CEO, WATG

Spain remains a target (WATG Mallow)


  1. Congratulations to WATG on celebrating 75 years of business. What do you attribute success in this highly competitive area of the sector to? 

Thank you, on behalf of our entire firm.  There are three key factors that have contributed to our sustained success for 75 years.  Firstly, from a commercial standpoint, developing and broadly communicating a focused and achievable three-year strategic plan for the business. We all develop strategic plans but WATG has always been extremely collaborative in the development of our business plans and transparent in communicating that plan to everyone within our firm. Every individual contributes, each person understands their individual role and we achieve broad buy-in and engagement. 

Secondly, a well-defined Purpose (we call it our Ambition) and a set of behavioral principles that gives us our “why” - our North Star. Now more than ever in our history, our talent is younger, and they have a very different set of personal and professional values than previous generations. In fact, their professional values are fully aligned with their personal values. They want to be inspired and know that their contributions in the workplace are for something bigger than themselves or purely the bottom line.  WATG has maintained a core ethos and culture for 75 years, but we regularly refine and refresh it and importantly, communicate it vigorously across the firm.   

Finally, in a creative environment, it’s imperative that we encourage a sense of curiosity and fearless risk-taking within our organisation. Creative people thrive on exploration, problem-solving and collaboration. It’s as important as the air they breathe.  Our senior leadership team are acutely aware of this and give their teams space to learn, explore and flex their creative muscles.

  1. What are some of the key trends in design we can expect to see in hospitality buildings? 

From an experiential standpoint, we are seeing a clear trend for the incorporation of a hospitality design ethos into public realm and mixed-use developments. One of our recent projects, intu Costa del Sol, near Torremolinos in Spain, is a superb example of how visionary clients are transforming mixed-use developments.  This 235,000 sqm project combines hospitality, leisure and retail and includes more than 20 leisure activities, a beach club, concert venue and an incredible array of F&B options – all master-planned into eight vibrant neighborhoods.  The broad vision was to transform the luxury, family and entertainment-led travel experience. Our clients at intu were passionately focused on the guest experience, something that has been at the core of our own DNA for 75 years. It was a stellar partnership and this development will be a case study for years to come.  

In addition, we continue to see a strong desire for more resilient design. Locally available, renewable and reclaimed materials, as well as sustainable operations. But also, consideration for how design, particularly in public realm and mixed-use, can facilitate and strengthen the fabric of the community for years to come. Again, referencing intu Costa del Sol, this project will also incorporate the latest technology in energy efficiency, water use and sustainable construction.  And will create a vibrant economic driver for the country and the municipality.  For WATG more broadly, we continue to work within emerging markets and undeveloped destinations and our clients are very savvy and understand the role of design resilience in driving long-term value by enhancing the communities in which they will operate.  

  1. Are there any specific countries or markets that you are interested in working in? 

We have projects in more than 20 countries right now. We are doing significant work in Spain, Greece, Vietnam, Indonesia, China, Mexico, California and in Saudi Arabia under their Vision 2030 growth strategy.  

  1. Why do events like IHIF 2020 and Adjacent Spaces 2020 that bring people together face to face remain of value in a world where we are all constantly connected digitally? 

People continue to use social, face-to-face experiences to build relationships. That will never change. Digital connection can fill the gaps and certainly ensures that we stay connected and help facilitate workflow and communications.  Particularly new technologies like Virtual Reality, which we’re now using in our design processes. But in our business, our clients choose us because of our people and their design talent.  They find us because of our brand reputation and our portfolio, but ultimately, they choose to work with individuals.  There is a deep professional connection that is required to understand and deliver on a client’s vision. That kind of intellectual and creative connection is only possible through time spent together face to face.   


Anthony joins the line-up of speakers participating in “2020 Vision: Hospitality Investment Outlook on 2030” on the afternoon of the opening day of IHIF 2020, Monday 2 March. In this session, industry analysts highlight the major trends that will affect hospitality investment, profitability and performance in the future: hospitality concepts, deal structures, ESG (environmental, social and governance) issues and demographics, to name a few.  

For further information on this session and IHIF in general, please visit www.ihif.com