SPACE EDITOR CAN FAIK MEETS Robert De Niro, CO-OWNER, NOBU Hotels
Born from the shared vision of an acclaimed American actor, celebrated movie producer and globally esteemed professional chef, Can Faik met with the Nobu owners last month at Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay, one of their latest openings, to discuss the brand’s direction…
Actor Robert De Niro’s Nobu Hotels is nearly doubling its portfolio this year. From the brand’s conception in 2009, and the first Nobu opening in 2013 as a boutique hotel in Caesar’s Palace Las Vegas, the company now has eight hotels in its portfolio globally. Next year, it plans on introducing five more. At the helm of the high-end group, De Niro, celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa, and Hollywood producer Meir Teper are its co-owners.
What does Nobu Hotels have to do to stay one step ahead of the competition?
Well, it always starts with the location. We choose a place that feels right for our restaurant first, then we think about what we can create there. We believe that design is really important as a way to communicate a feeling. That’s why we invest when we need to.
Have you noticed any design trends when opening a hotel in a certain country or do you look at the location as a starting point?
One of the key things when opening a hotel is location, location, location, with food and beverage being the focal point of each property. Every Nobu hotel has to have a Nobu restaurant, which will supply room service and special events, and as we have restaurants across five continents, we are aiming to do the same with Nobu Hotels.
How important is hotel design when launching a new Nobu hotel?
Regarding our projects in Ibiza and Marbella, we have really tried to respect the ethos of the Nobu brand while trying to fit into the local market and embrace the local colours and materials. We have very much tried to make it that when you wake up in the hotel you know exactly where you are; so you can be in New York where everything is kind of geared to feel your surroundings and blends in with the scenery, and with the natural habitat of the hotel – especially here in Ibiza where there is a very strong earthy vibe with an important emphasis on local products.
Do you look at the location first before deciding on which hotel designer to work with?
Yes we do. We work a lot with David Rockwell out of New York, who designed our first restaurant. Nobu has always said good design is very important when you dine in our restaurants, so we try to do the same with our hotels.
Let’s talk about your award-winning Malibu property, part of your Ryokan collection, can you explain how this is different to your other properties?
In some of our hotels in the world, where we can do a very high-level product, we will try to brand them a Ryokan collection, which will be a five-star property where on some floors there will be an even higher luxury service and will have an even better design and quality compared to the rest of the hotel. We would say Malibu is our flagship property with only 16 rooms.
Has your Ibiza property been well received by its guests?
We wanted our Ibiza property to compete with other resorts in Europe rather than other resorts in Ibiza, so we set ourselves a mission that it will be a destination rather than just another hotel. You can spend the whole day here without having to leave the property, as every area seamlessly flows into each other.
Is the Middle East an area you’re considering for a Nobu Hotel opening?
Yes for sure, at this time we are looking at a property in downtown Dubai, and we are almost ready to open Riyadh and Tel-Aviv to follow.
How do you juggle your time with two very different careers?
Well I’m not there on a day-to-day basis, and I’m for sure not in the kitchen with Nobu, as I’m working on a movie right now, which I need to fly out for at the weekend. We have our CEO Trevor Horwell and COO Struan Mckenzie who take care of Nobu Hotels, as they are two great hoteliers.
What’s next for Nobu?
We have a new property in Barbuda to come, it’s early stages, and if all goes to plan we will open in 2020 and incorporate our first Nobu Beach Club.