Stuart Johnson, the 2012 Hotelier of the Year and general manager of Brown's hotel in London for 11 years, is moving to Shanghai to open a new property for Rocco Forte Hotels.
Set to open in 2018, the 280-bedroom hotel is being developed in partnership with Longhua International as part of the Longhua International Aviation Service Centre, a new urban complex in West Bund. Johnson will move to China in January to oversee the final stages of its development and opening.
The property will take over the top 15 floors of the tallest building of the development. It will incorporate three different restaurants, overseen by Lydia Forte, Sir Rocco's daughter and director of food and beverage for the group, a spa, swimming pool and ballroom. Olga Polizzi, director of design of Rocco Forte Hotels, will undertake the interior design.
Johnson joined the five-red-AA-star, 117-bedroom Brown's hotel in 2005, two years after it was acquired by Rocco Forte from Raffles Hotels.in 2003. The hotel was closed in April 2004 for a £25m refurbishment.
Marco Novella will step into Johnson's shoes as manging director overseeing three hotels. Alongside Brown's, he will also be ultimately responsible for the Balmoral in Edinburgh and the Hotel Amigo in Brussels. Novella was previously chief operating office of Grace Hotels.
Novella said he was "delighted" to join Rocco Forte Hotels.
"We have great plans for the future of Brown's Hotel with my own primary focus being on elevating the experience of our guests through outstanding service, increased suite offering and exceptional food and beverage.
"Personalised experience and the individuality of the team are intrinsic to the ethos of Rocco Forte Hotels, an idea which very much aligns with my own view that service, whilst luxury, is not about reserve but rather innovation, approachability and a refreshing outlook."
Rocco Forte Hotels has 11 hotels in Europe and the Middle East. Last week it opened the 147-bedroom Assila hotel in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
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