I spent some time with Jean-Luc Naret, the engrossing and captivating new Executive Director of The Set Collection, to discuss the exciting plans for The Set’s properties across the world. There are some new hotels that have recently been added to the portfolio, The House Collective, as well as opening plans for another new House, an ultra-luxury hotel in the heart of Shenzhen Bay, set to open in 2025.
Jean-Luc Naret is a hotelier by profession and a gourmet by passion. With over 30 years of experience in hospitality, Jean-Luc was also the Managing Director of the Michelin Guide. Traveling over one million miles throughout all continents, he quickly learned the small differences that add up to make a hotel or restaurant truly world class.
How did it all start?
It started with three hospitality professionals with decades of experience across the luxury hospitality sector. During Covid, it became apparent how limited and outdated some traditional hotel representation companies are. Hoteliers are looking for flexible models tailored to their individual needs and scaled up or down depending on market conditions. This then gave way to the launch of The Set Collection.
What makes The Set Collection different to other luxury hotel groups?
Our structure is a refreshing alternative to previous hotel one size fits all approach. The Set Collection is run by hoteliers for hoteliers. We offer our partners the services they may need with a performance-based competitive fee structure.
What future trends/patterns do you predict in the luxury hotel market across Europe in the next 10 years?
In past years guests were looking for comfort and security, turning to familiar brands such as Hilton, Four Seasons etc. to offer this comfort worldwide. In 2022, the pattern has changed with travellers looking for unique properties anchored to their location, where guests can experience and immerse themselves in the local culture.
Tell us about The House Collective and future plans for this group of properties?
The House Collective are currently four beautiful properties located in the best destinations in Asia (Beijing, Hong Kong, Chengdu and Shanghai). I cannot comment too much on the growth plan, suffice to say though that I am confident their collaboration with The Set Collection will play a great part in the future.
In terms of growth, the as-yet unnamed House will be the first property in Shenzhen under The House Collective brand, and it marks another key milestone in the expansion plan, following hot on the heels of the announcement in July of the first House in Japan, due to open in Shibuya, Tokyo, in 2027.
What is the secret to retaining and developing staff at all levels within hospitality worldwide?
We have to get a happy team to have happy guests. Firstly, we call our team artists and hold castings to recruit them, providing them with a set of job specifications beforehand. We ensure we look after our staff and that they become part of the family. So much so that they have direct access to owners/directors, and they get to know them and their families well. It’s up to us to find passionate young people to whom we must engender the desire to stay in this profession, a profession that offers a career path like no other.
It is not uncommon these days to see young people under thirty at the head of restaurants or hotels around the world. We must encourage and ensure these young talents maintain their drive to shape the hotel industry of tomorrow.
What will the future of in-room dining look like at luxury hotels?
Covid has introduced a new experience when it comes to dining with many Michelin starred restaurants and hotels offering takeaway menus as a direct result. In-room dining has now become private dining which is key for people that are still hesitant of dining in restaurants and large groups—allowing the comfort of their suite to become an exclusive intimate dining experience.
We recently fell in love with Mauritius. Where is your favourite holiday destination?
I fell in love with Mauritius a long time ago because I lived there when I was 29, and my kids were born and raised there. Mauritius is definitely part of my blood and is part of my lifestyle. However, Mauritius has suffered over the last two years because of Covid, but I wish Mauritius well. I’m sure some of the hotels out there that have been closed for two years will have to reinvent themselves to reopen.
With luxury hotel restaurants in London, do you think the approach should be concept led or chef-led?
There is no formula, no one size fits all answer here – what you need is dedication, passion and the support of owners who understand the investment and work needed to create a successful hotel restaurant. Something I am glad to know we benefit from at The Set Collection.
What is your favourite ever hotel experience?
My next one!
You are a foodie. If you could award a Michelin star to a UK Chef right now, who would it be to and why?
I am indeed, and having run the Michelin guide for many years I have learned never to answer this question. I have many great friends in the industry and could never possibly single one out – I will say to your readers that they should get out there and enjoy making their own mind up as Michelin are always listening!
What is the next big thing for The Set Collection?
Growth. We have a big target to achieve.
To discover more, visit: thesetcollection.com
Imagery courtesy of Jean-Luc Naret / The Set Collection.
View this post on Instagram