8 minutes with a globetrotting hotelier

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Vikram Chatwal, founder and creative force behind the Dream, Night and Time hotel brands, talks about his Asian ventures and more

Vikram Chatwal

He started with two budget hotels; now he owns 14 contemporary and luxury hotels around the world.

Ethiopian-born entrepreneur Vikram Chatwal grew up in Montreal and then moved to New York. He has worked in hit Hollywood productions such as “Zoolander,” “Spring Breakers” and “London Fields” as an actor or movie producer, and as a model for high-profile fashion titles such as Vogue. But a lot of people probably don’t know that he’s also a successful hotelier with 14 properties operating under his Manhattan-based Debut Hotel group and lifestyle hotel brands, Dream, Night and Time.

Just recently, Chatwal opened his third property in Asia, the five-star Dream Hotel Phuket, a partnership with Singaporean firm Castelwood Group. The project features two Michelin Star chefs and is expected to become a culinary destination on Phuket for the affluent crowd.

Property Report caught up with Chatwal, who discussed his background and expansion in Asian markets.

Given your finance background, how did you get involved in real estate?
My father started a restaurant business that eventually got into budget hotels. We had two. I then ventured into boutique properties, and eventually into contemporary and luxury hotels. Now I have 14 properties worldwide.

Why did you want to develop upscale hotels?
The comfort and service levels are a rewarding challenge. One can find luxury hotels very posh and unique. They also have sound financial returns, even during a recession.

What convinced you to open hotel properties in Asia?
The whole world is becoming exciting. We also wanted exotic resorts as part of our portfolio. India and Thailand are important markets as well as authentic destinations.

What is your outlook for the resort/holiday property market in Phuket and in Southeast Asia?
Looks promising especially with both international and local Asian tourists.

Are you concerned that Chinese tourists might not want to travel at this time due to their economic slowdown?
Maybe temporarily, but I believe China’s global economic force will eventually rise.

Can you share any of your upcoming projects in Asia after ‘Dream Phuket’?
We are looking to develop a hotel in Chang Mai. Hopefully we can start on a project in China, too.

How do you choose the locations of your hotel projects?
I travel frequently for business and holidays. Our group chooses our locations based on primary markets, unique destinations, and a good investment.

You’ve found success in every venture. Is there anything else you want to do?
For now I want to enjoy these professions – acting, modelling, film producing and hotel development – as much as I can.

Read next: Phuket’s latest luxury hotel will push culinary boundaries

is the deputy editor of Property Report