Charlie Weaving Discusses the Challenges of High-End Hospitality
When it comes to creating exclusive nightlife destinations, Foxhole Holdings are industry leaders, owning and operating popular venues in some of the world’s most vibrant entertainment hot spots.
Among their existing portfolio are STK Ibiza, Ocean Beach Club Ibiza, Toy Room London and many other high profile venues in the UK, Dubai and Ibiza. Their latest offering will be a new 120 table super club in Dubai, which promises to take nightlife in the Emirati city to a whole new level.
We caught up with Charlie Weaving, Managing Partner of Foxhole Holdings in Dubai, to find out more about life at the zenith of luxury hospitality.
Superyachts: How does the Dubai market differ from others that you currently work in?
Charlie Weaving: The Dubai Market is amazing - I love having our head office there, I have lived in Dubai for 11 years now and the market has lots of opportunities and growth. When you get it right in Dubai it really goes right, like a dream land for business. However, with it being such a new country and still trying to set up their own business infrastructure it can take time and can be costly, which puts a lot of people off.
We're very used to the processes and systems so it's no problem for us. Our big thing is that we always take strategic partners in a new territory so we have someone onside who speaks the language and understands the market. But overall the world is becoming a very small place and it is just about regionalising your product and operations, but the main core formulas stay the same.
Are there any cultural challenges/obstacles operating in the Middle East?
There are cultural challenges in the Middle East, but this is where emotional intelligence comes into it. You must adapt, learn and respect the local culture. It's amazing how far respect and humility gets you.
You currently have businesses in the UK, Dubai and Ibiza – do you have plans to venture into other markets over the coming years? Perhaps China, given the growth of its luxury consumers?
We are actively pursuing opportunities in South East Asia - mainly Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. The growth there is no secret and it excites us. I am a big fan of that part of the world - I love the culture and vibe.
What about other sectors outside hospitality – do you have any plans to diversify?
We have lots of different companies aside from lifestyle/hospitality. We are putting a lot of focus on E-commerce within the Middle East and Europe. We actually have a new international ladies' online fast fashion business launching from bases in Dubai and London at the end of May. It is called www.isawitfirst.com
In what ways would you say that high-end hospitality has evolved over the years?
The high-end hospitality market is constantly evolving but I feel it goes in circles. Everything always comes back into fashion. If you look back to the 1960s it was all about clubs and restaurants with very smart waiters in tuxedos serving luxury food and champagne in coupe glasses listening to music while watching amazing entertainment. This is pretty much what is happening now, so it has gone a full circle and come back into fashion. Whatever was popular after that - in the 70s maybe - is what is going to be the next fad. I can actually imagine that 90s style warehouse raves will be very popular in the coming years also.
What would you say are some of the defining characteristics of your venues? Do they all have their own distinctive look and vibe, or are there some common features?
Our venues are all different actually. The only thing they have in common is that they are all great fun. We have venues that range from 3 star high volume to 7 star boutique luxury. This year we are excited for our second season at STK Ibiza in Marina Botafoch. It got such a great response last year and the buzz for this year is incredible. I’m sure we will be classed as Ibiza’s best Restaurant and Lounge this year.
What would you say are the essential ingredients that make a successful, exclusive and high-end nightlife/entertainment venue?
I think the most important aspect to make a luxury hospitality project successful is the people involved in the project, Brand Image, location, knowing your market and where you fit in the market.