Yoo Hotels’ CEO Marco Nijhof

IHIF events, attended by the industry’s most senior leaders and leading organizations, provide the ideal backdrop to learn about critical investment trends in every region of the world. Sharing his professional insights this month is Yoo Hotels & Resort’s CEO, Marco Nijhof, who participated in IHIF’s Brasil Hospitality Investment Conference (BHIC) earlier this year in Sao Paulo as a guest speaker.

Yoo (stylized as YOO or yoo), the global design brand synonymous with creating extraordinary living spaces, conceived Yoo Hotels & Resorts to deliver one-of-a-kind guest experiences through seamless design and impeccable service in spectacular locales, including Bali and Jakarta, Indonesia; Botafogo, Brazil; Hong Kong; Costa Rica; Boracay, Philippines; Cotswolds, United Kingdom; Istanbul; Thailand; Tuscany, Italy; and St. Vincent in the Caribbean. Yoo was founded in 1999 by French designer Philippe Starck and international property entrepreneur John Hitchcox.

As a founding member of Yoo Hotels, Nijhof brings to the company more than 30 years of experience in hotel development, management and ownership. He began his career as a bellboy at the age of 16, but it wasn’t long before he climbed the ranks to become one of the world’s youngest GMs of a Grand Hyatt hotel, specifically a property in Japan. He also held senior leadership positions at Boscolo Hotels, Serena Hotels, Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts, Corinthia Group, Al-Hassawi group of companies and the Lucaya Beach & Golf Resort in the Bahamas. A truly global management executive, Nijhof has an innate cultural understanding and acumen for marketing and developing hotels across continents. It also doesn’t hurt that he speaks seven languages.

HM: What regions of the world are you excited about in terms of hotel development for Yoo Hotels & Resorts moving forward and why?

Nijhof: The destinations we are most excited about in terms of hotel development are Bali, Thailand, Botafogo in Brazil and Nanjing, China. Our collection includes hotels in extraordinary, unique locations, so choosing the right environment that will meet our guests’ expectations is essential.

HM: What travel industry trends are having a big impact on hotel deals and even operations these days?

Yoo’s J Plus Hotel in Hong Kong.

Yoo’s J Plus Hotel in Hong Kong.

Nijhof: Branding is becoming increasingly important as are creative initiatives and partnerships with lifestyle or design and fashion brands. Hotels need to differentiate themselves, and Yoo Hotels is able to do this through design, product and service. Yoo Hotels & Resorts is relatively small and new, but the key to our success is that we have the world-renowned Yoo branding that has existed for over 15 years.

HM: How often do you travel in a given month?

Nijhof: It varies. Due to business development activities, I can be away for up to three weeks at a time. At the moment, I am in Asia, covering four locations over two and a half weeks. I would say I travel an average of 15-20 days per month.

HM: If you could have any job at any Yoo Hotels & Resorts property, what would it be?

Nijhof: I have it!

HM: If you could offer hoteliers one piece of advice, what would it be?

Nijhof: Nothing is impossible, and you can do more than you think you can.

HM: What is your advice for students considering the hospitality industry?

Nijhof: Make sure you love dealing with people, people and people: your guests, your employees and your owners! You have to be passionate about the people element of hotel business.

HM: What makes an industry event good?

Nijhof: A good mix of people that will inspire each other and have fun.