Luxury is simplicity with elegance
Since November 2020, Savino Leone is General Manager of Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort. During his 30+ year career, he has gained in-depth insight into establishing cultures of Guest Service Excellence – including leading the pre-opening, launch and performance growth of hotels in Asia, Europe, Middle East and Africa.
Facing the Persian Gulf, bordered by a long wild white sand beach, Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort is a five-star, the first sustainable luxury establishment of the Emirati Jumeirah group. The 296 rooms, suites and duplex villas face the sea or the gardens and all offer views of the pool, dunes, beach and ocean from a private balcony or access to the garden.
Bureau d’Image: How would you define luxury?
Savino Leone: Luxury is something to behold; quality at a glance; simplicity with elegance – especially when involving great experience.
BI: Does French luxury exist and what would be its characteristics?
SL: French Luxury exists by having a simplified experience, explicit quality, and elegance.
BI: Which personality best embodies luxury today?
SL: George Clooney.
BI: What have been the major developments in luxury over the past few decades? What will the luxury hotel industry of tomorrow look like?
SL: Over the last few decades, luxury has evolved using simplified technology to ensure convenience for everyone. Tomorrow's luxury hotel will look like a high-end accommodation resort, powered by chatbots, smart controls, and solar power.
BI: How do luxury hotels stand out?
SL: Aside from providing high-end facilities and quality services, luxury hotels stand out when they have unique consumer experiences to offer. Consumers then feel valued, and this creates exposure for the hotel brand, and a voice for everyone to be heard.
BI: How would you describe a successful customer experience in a store, in a hotel or while traveling? What are the key factors to delight and retain customers?
SL: A successful experience is when customers are pleased with the services you have provided – returning customers are evidence of quality service. A key factor is word of mouth – when people recommend services from one person to another.
BI: Are you noticing a sociological change in the luxury clientele?
SL: Clients are increasingly looking for something unique, simple, and elegant, as well as the ability to spend a lot of money, and the satisfaction of obtaining exclusive, rare, unique and high-quality products.
BI: Does the appetite for luxury and refinement prevent us from appreciating simpler things?
SL: Simple things are luxurious and refined nowadays. Everyone has a strong desire for life, and the value of a luxury experience or item does not define it.
BI: What do you remember about your first stay in a luxury hotel?
SL: I remember the people who made my experience extraordinary.
BI: What is your greatest memory in a luxury hotel?
SL: Spending it with my family.
BI: What is your biggest regret, your worst experience?
SL: Staff attitude – saying things such as ’not possible’ even though it could be possible, and not looking for creative ways.
BI: What is your favorite hotel?
SL: Jumeirah Al Naseem, for being elegant and refined.
BI: What is the most luxurious gift you have ever given?
SL: A family trip.
BI: What is the most luxurious gift you have ever received?
SL: My two beautiful daughters are the more valuable and priceless gifts I have ever gotten.
BI: What is considered a luxury, but you couldn't live without?
SL: Friendship, freedom and happiness.
BI: What kind of leader are you? What principles guide your professional life and what demands does running a luxury establishment require?
SL: I am fair. My guiding principle is to remain focused, pay attention to detail, and embrace simplicity while creating refine experiences.
BI: What is the most important quality you demand from your teams?
SL: To maintain a focused attitude with passion.
BI: What mistake inspires you the most indulgence?
SL: A negative guest feedback that challenges me to earn back the guest’s confidence and ensure they return, making them our valued ambassadors.
BI: Why is it important to train your teams in customer service excellence?
SL: This is how we differentiate ourselves – all hotels can be luxurious, but what differentiates each hotel is the people within.
BI: What importance do you place on the posture and interpersonal skills of employees in the luxury industry?
SL: In my opinion, body language, personal appearance, and a smile are key characteristics of professionals in the luxury industry.
BI: Even as a manager, do you continue to learn more about luxury, its codes and the many ways in which it is embodied?
SL: Yes – learning is a lifelong lesson for leadership development. I believe as experts in the luxury industry, we need to adapt to new technology to help us meet guest needs and customer standards.
BI: What advice would you give to young professionals?
SL: Hospitality is a very exciting and vibrant industry. if you are interested in this sector, just be passionate about it and remain focused.
BI: What do you recommend for men: a neat beard or a close shave?
SL: Close shave.
BI: For women: for or against red nail polish?
SL: I am not against it, however this depends on the standard of the hotel.
BI: For or against tattoos? Piercings?
SL: Piercings might not be appropriate, but tattoos could be acceptable, if they are subtle and not very visible.
BI: If luxury was a color, what would it be?
SL: All colors.
BI: A motto?
SL: To provide service excellence and lead the brand.