HOTELS Magazine’s 2024 Hoteliers of the World are recognized as two of the preeminent leaders in the luxury hotel space, both parts of companies that are time-tested luxury groups, welcoming demanding, affluent guests and developing some of the finest hotels in the world.

Both are known for their attention to detail and composure in even the most demanding of situations—no matter what comes their way. These are just two of the many reasons why they were selected for this year’s awards and, as proof, are admired by their peers; many of which supported their candidacy for this year’s awards.

Today, we reveal are other awardee: Radha Arora, president of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts. We put his life and career story in frame below. We hope you enjoy it.

Both he and fellow winner, Sandeep Bhalla of The Connaught, are featured in print in our forthcoming March/April issue of HOTELS Magazine. 

We, and the collective hospitality industry, congratulate the winners. 

Radha Arora can rationalize any trip to Paris. On a January afternoon, the president of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts
is at Hôtel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel, a designated Palace-grade hotel in the 8th arrondissement that’s hosted real-life royalty and the fictional kind: the protagonist of Ernest Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises” composes letters from the hotel lobby.

On this particular day, Arora, a Los Angeles resident, is in Paris for work, though the City of Light isn’t why. Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, the luxury hotel management arm of Hong Kong-based Rosewood Hotel Group, is opening the
Rosewood Schloss Fuschl, close to Salzburg, Austria, later this year and though Rosewood also has a hotel in Vienna, Arora is working out of Paris, ensconced in the landmark Crillon. Paris for any occasion.

The city and the hotel mean more to Arora than just plain work stopovers; they both played pivotal roles in Arora’s upbringing as the son of a foreign service worker. “It’s a great love affair I have with the city,” he said, and for good reason. Arora may have a 40-plus-year career in the hotel industry, but one could argue he’s been in it his whole life. Travel is requisite for someone working in the foreign service and when his father received his first posting abroad in Moscow, the entire family accompanied him from Arora’s birthplace of New Delhi.

Prior to Russia came a stop in London, where the family stayed at the Strand Palace, just across the way from one of the world’s iconic hotels, The Savoy, which, among other London hospitality institutions, Arora refers to as a paragon of hotel virtue.

Radha Arora is president of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts. He joined the company 13 years ago after learning the luxury ropes with Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts.

After Russia came Paris, where, by pure coincidence, the family lived in the Hôtel de Crillon, which opened as a hotel in 1909, but stood as a building since 1758—in 1793, King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette were guillotined in the Place de la Concorde directly in front of it. It’s a rich, even macabre history.

It was the 60s when his love affair with the hotel industry coalesced. How could it not when you are a real-life Eloise? “Living in hotels, being surrounded by and building relationships with the housekeepers, the room-service staff, the bellman, the concierge, front desk—that desire to be around people that are so caring and nurturing,” he said. “Those were my formative years.”

It was precisely those years that led him to a career in hospitality because tradition did not. It’s typical Indian culture to strive to become a lawyer, a doctor, a financier, but “I wanted to be a hotelier,” Arora said, adding that, at one point, dentistry was in the cards. Unlike a film or novel, there was no paternal pushback. “He said to me, ‘You’ve lived in hotels, you love hotels, you love the smell of a hotel, it is all you talk about.’ That was it. I went with hospitality.”

Hôtel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel in Paris, is a Palace-grade hotel and a property that Arora once lived in as a boy.


Arora studied hospitality in school, but his career journey didn’t start until the 1980s, with his first hotel job in London, as a night receptionist at the Inn on the Park London, which later became a Four Seasons hotel after its owners took the advice of a little- known Canadian hotelier named Isadore Sharp. (Arora refers to him as the god of hospitality.) It was a pivotal moment for Four Seasons because it was its first hotel outside Canada.

Four Seasons had a profound impact on Arora. The company now has more than 120 hotels worldwide, but back then, there were only a handful, and most were in Canada. “London was a hallmark of their success,” Arora said, as transatlantic travel boomed, spurred by the likes of the Concorde, which allowed the affluent to be on Broadway one night and the West End the next. For two years he was at the hotel, doing the income audit, checking in guests and “I loved it,” he said.

There is no shortage of luxury hotels in London and there is no more effective way to learn the ropes than by immersing oneself in the culture. That’s what Arora did. He worked at small luxury hotels, like DUKES London in St. James’s; he worked at large luxury hotels, such as the InterContinental London Park Lane; and along the way, he picked up experience in all the varied disciplines—from front-of-the-house guest-facing interactions to back-of-the-house accounting, Arora was front and center on his career arc, soaking it all in. “I just wanted to work in great hotels,” Arora said.

The lobby of The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel in New York’s Upper East SIde.

He eventually became hotel manager of the famed Ritz London, where he remained for seven years, a stint that included many chance meetings with the likes of Princess Diana, who had a friend living in the hotel. Arora called the Princess one of the most disarming people he’d ever encountered. “Everybody felt connected to her,” he said. And while Princess Diana was swarmed wherever she went in public, Arora says that the biggest luxury anyone can have of her ilk, within a luxury hotel, is anonymity.

Arora’s connection to London ended when the siren call of Four Seasons beckoned him back. He returned to the company in 1994 and was with them for the next 17 years. He felt “at home” with Four Seasons and wanted out of London.

Arora took posts from Toronto to Hawaii and even for a time back in his home country, working in Goa, India. His last position with Four Seasons was one of the most coveted jobs in hospitality: regional vice president and GM of the Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel, where he stayed for seven years. He calls Los Angeles home today.

It was that post with Four Seasons that directly led to what is now a 13-year-and-still-counting career with Rosewood Hotels & Resorts. The Beverly Wilshire might have been managed by Four Seasons, but it was owned by the Cheng family of Hong Kong, which, in 2011, acquired a portfolio of Rosewood-managed properties from Maritz, Wolff & Co., five total, including The Carlyle, a Rosewood Hotel, in New York, and Rosewood Little Dix Bay Resort in the British Virgin Islands. At the time of the transaction, the Cheng family stated that “Rosewood will be positioned for substantially accelerated global growth.”

Rosewood Munich is housed in two restored historic buildings—the former State Bank of Bavaria headquarters and the adjacent Palais Neuhaus-Preysing aristocratic residence.


Some 13 years later, Rosewood, under the stewardship of the Cheng family and its scion/ CEO, Sonia Cheng, have grown the portfolio to 33 hotels operating and a slew more on the way, including a prospective seven more hotels in Greater China and seven more in Europe, which includes the The Chancery Rosewood in London, slated to open in 2025, and housed in the former U.S. Embassy on Grosvenor Square. Arora calls it an emblem of the Rosewood brand.

Rosewood is also opening hotels in destinations beyond what would be considered the norm. This year, it will open Rosewood Miyakojima in Japan, “a destination that our clients would not normally have ever dreamed of,” Arora said.

He’s been along for the entire ride. The Cheng family recognized greatness in Arora by his successes in the U.S.— including the Beverly Wilshire, he had eight other hotels under his purview. The idea around Rosewood—and qualified in the company statement when it acquired the company—was to scale it up, but in a manner that still allowed it to retain its almost provincial charm.

Back in 2011, Sonia Cheng, Arora remembered, referred to Rosewood as a gentle giant that needed to be awakened, a diamond in the rough that just needed some buffing. Arora refers to the 43-year-old Cheng as his “fountain of youth” and his best friend.

With a startup company mentality, the idea was to expand the brand globally, but in a manner where the culture was not bastardized. “Each one of our properties is unique, distinct to its culture. That’s what Rosewood is,” Arora said. Consider The Carlyle, one of New York’s famed hotels that shares the neighborhood with other celebrated hotels. Talk about unique: the hotel’s Bemelmans Bar features wall murals by Ludwig Bemelmans, the creator of the classic Madeline children’s books, while Woody Allen used to play clarinet with his jazz band on Monday nights in Café Carlyle. It’s even appeared in HBO’s “Sex & The City.” Of the hotel, Arora said, “When you create a property where you go to a city to the hotel versus for the city itself, you know you have a winner. It’s one of those properties where when you walk in you get goosebumps.”

A marbled bathroom at Rosewood Hong Kong, which soars over Victoria Harbour.

The hotel recently finished off a decade-in-the- making renovation that was painstakingly deliberate and meticulous to preserve the hotel’s patina and continue its legacy. Arora said the older Rosewood properties, from The Caryle to Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas, act as signposts for the newer Rosewood properties to come.

Rosewood now has a handful of owned properties that Arora calls the linchpins, which, he says, act almost as showrooms. Now, the idea is to expand through an asset-light model, partnering with people who want a piece of Rosewood in their portfolio, maybe even more so for the prestige, rather than the returns. “It’s not your typical institutional partner,” Arora said.

Part of Arora’s remit is to strike and nurture these deals, to grow the Rosewood brand by working in tandem with partners to achieve the best results, which is why Arora keeps a frenzied travel schedule. Arora favors a tête-à-tête conversation over a Zoom call. In October 2023, Town & Country published an article titled: “Radha Arora Shares His Favorites for Being at Home or Away.” Expectedly, Bose QuietComfort Headphones were cited; surprisingly, were Blackwing pencils, which he wears down to the nub: “We’re in the aesthetics business; I work with great designers and architects, and I’ve seen them use these pencils, so when I have one, I feel like I, too, can contribute in some way,” he told Town & Country.

Arora has contributed in many ways, but it’s not just the contributions he’s made to propel the business, it’s the contributions he’s made to those around him. “It’s being respectful of others,” Arora said. “Humanity is what our industry is all about. If you endorse the culture through the way you speak to somebody else, then everything else pales.”

Passionate is how Arora believes others see him. Passionate about the way he goes about his business and in his daily relationships. “This is just who I am,” he said. “It’s about loyalty to our partners and to our teams. When you have this culture, where you create this sense of pride, at every level, that is impenetrable, and it propagates creativity.”

Rosewood Mayakoba in Mexico’s Riviera Maya.

It’s taken time to grow the Rosewood brand to be a powerhouse, standing shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Ritz-Carlton and Arora’s old outfit, Four Seasons. It wasn’t David slinging Goliath, but it wasn’t easy; it took time and it took convincing.

“There’s so many different luxury players,” Arora said. Consider Hôtel de Crillon. It’s owned by a Saudi Arabian prince, but it took some time coaxing him that Rosewood was the right partner to operate the hotel. “He’d ask us, ‘Why Rosewood? You have no properties in Europe. No infrastructure.’”

The answer seems easy but it’s hard to execute on. What it really is, is a promise, an assurance of uniqueness and mystique, Arora said. His pitch: “We are a well-known brand in the U.S. that will continue to evolve in Europe. You need to trust us with this passion and desire. We’ll work on it personally.”

It happened. “Twelve years later, partners come to us,” Arora said. “We’re very fortunate to be in the position to have created this appealing brand.”

He’s had a big hand in it, and Arora says that his job today is to preserve the brand and its culture.

Thirteen years in with Rosewood, Arora doesn’t have any plans to go anywhere soon. Besides, he said, his boss wouldn’t allow it. “‘You’re not going anywhere,’” Cheng has told him.

He’s also in no hurry to be anywhere else. “Why would I want to? Every day is a unique day.”

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