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COO , 137 Pillars Hotels & Resorts

Christopher E. Stafford, has more than 34 years’ experience in hospitality, travel and event management, Swedish national / world traveller Chris Stafford is what you call ‘a seasoned industry professional ‘. He headed the Anantara Resort Group in Thailand and the Maldives, opening 6 properties for the group. He is an avid polo player (both horse and elephant) and was instrumental in the creation of the famous Anantara Elephant Polo event. He has also worked for Regent International Hotels, Westin Hotels and Bali Hai Hotels Tahiti. Now Stafford is COO of the newly launched 137 Pillars Hotels & Resorts. A brand which builds on the success of the stunning 30-suite 137 Pillars House Chiang Mai. The brand has been created by the Wongphanlert family and with Stafford at its helm it looks set to deliver an exceptional boutique brand. 

Next up 137 Pillars Suites & Residences Bangkok , scheduled to open in early 2017.   We caught up with the energetic and charming Christopher Stafford at ILTM Asia in Shanghai.

What is the single most defining thing about 187 Pillars as a new brand?
Trust. And if I’m allowed a second characteristic, vision. Our clients trust us to supply the best and each new hotel will fit the spirit of place whether modern or historic. 137 Pillars Hotels & Resorts has sprung from 137 Pillars House Chiang Mai.  The original teak homestead dates back to the late 1800s and was the former headquarters of the East Borneo Company.  The Leonowens and Bain family lived there, as well as their famous partner Rajah Brooke. So although they a will all be different each new hotel will feature a Jack Bain's Bar and Cigar Divan and the elite Louis Leonowens Club for our invited members. This is the connection that 137 Pillars Hotels and Resorts will take into each new hotel.

 137 Pillars Bangkok

Next is 137 Pillars Bangkok (opening on Sukhumvit Soi 39, early 2017. Ed), what other projects are in the pipeline?
A third property, 137 Pillars Estate Phuket, is scheduled to open early 2019 on the North Peninsula of Kata Beach, with 16 sunset facing Pool villas and 51 Pool Suites. We are looking at opportunities Southeast Asia, I’ve my eye on Myanmar, perhaps Sri Lanka and the Maldives too.  We are also open to management deals for luxury boutique properties. 

What part of the process of creating a new hotel do you enjoy most?
I love all of it or I would have retired by now (I really meant to) but 137 Pillars is too exciting  a brand. We are doing something really special.

What is the “little thing” that all good hotels should pay attention to?

Attending to guests needs from the smallest to the largest request. We will have a butler service, a great concierge and a long list of  bespoke services available to our guests.

137 Pillars House Hotel Chiang Mai Thailand

What is the next big luxury travel trend?
Individuality. Curating things to suit each guest.

Apart from your own, what are your favourite hotels/resorts? (and why)

The upper house in Hong Kong does everything well. It has style and service. The Tea Trails in Sri Lanka  (run by the Dilmah tea family. Ed) where you travel between lodges is absolutely amazing.

What is your favourite city to visit?

There are so many beautiful cities. Vienna is special to me –it feels like the crossroads of the world with so much history and such a mix of people.  I also love Lisbon.  Angola is beautiful when the trees blossom…

What is your best overseas restaurant experience?

Nahm Restaurant (at Hotel Metropolitan by COMO) Bangkok. It serves the best Thai food I have ever eaten.

  137 Pillars House Hotel Chiang Mai Thailand

What is your favourite airline for business or first class? Why?                                                           Any airline that lands at a small airport. I think given strides in luxury elsewhere the airport experience is so out of date.

What is the one luxury travel experience you will never forget?

I was brought up in Africa and on one occasion my grandmother flew me home to Sweden. I was about 8 or 9. Years old. We went from Addis Ababa to Cairo to Zurich to Sweden and at each stop there were sublime luxury experiences.  We were taken on a private tour of the pyramids, flew over Addis at 9,000 feet, had hot chocolate with whipped cream waiting for us Zurich…. It turned my head and made me want to experience such things forever.

What is the most important thing (travelwise) that money CAN buy?

What is the most important thing it can’t?
Also freedom as it happens

Luxury Link: www.137pillarshotels.com
Nahm: www.comohotels.com/metropolitanbangkok
Upper House:  www.upperhouse.com
Ceylon Tea Trails: www.resplendentceylon.com
Vienna: www.wien.gv.at

Posted 7/6/16

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