Millennial Leads Rosewood’s Hotel Group

Rosewood Hotel Group, a Dallas-based company, is best known for their luxury hotels in North America, but with the help of Sonia Cheng the hotel company is growing its international presence. Rosewood Hotel Group opened their first of eight planned Asia hotels in Beijing last week. Cheng has been with the hotel group for three years and is the CEO. As a 33-year-old, Cheng is a rarity amongst her generation as she actually runs an international hotel company.

Although she is a tech-savvy millennial, Cheng’s hotels do not focus on new technology at the cost of personal touch. Some hospitality companies are not eager to join the digital revolution. These companies, like the industry, are trying to find a balance between technology and high-end service. Many of her competitors have been investing in new technologies such as smartphone room keys and check in. Cheng believes it is important to focus on technology but not become obsessed with it.

Technology is not the only trend Cheng disagrees with. She also rejects the thought that travelers are afraid to travel outside of city centers for luxury hospitality, opposing many thoughts of CEOs of most big chains. She believes hotels should focus on local fare when it comes to food service rather than favoring French or Italian restaurants. Many of these trends are caused by the influence of millennials and what hotels think the generation wants. Hotels are focusing on the group born between 1980 and 2000 because this will be the generation that will account for half the spending on business travel by 2020. As a millennial, Cheng is able to voice the generation interests. 


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Nick Banks

Nick created Front Street Commercial Real Estate Group in 2002 and spent the first eight years developing and acquiring office and retail projects in South Florida as well as North Central Florida. In 2010 the focus of the firm was shifted to primarily serve third party clients and perform brokerage, property management and mortgage banking functions. Nick has personally developed and acquired nearly 200,000 square feet of office and retail properties in markets throughout Florida. Prior to founding Front Street, Nick was the Director of Finance and Dispositions for Stiles Corporation in Fort Lauderdale where he financed and sold over $500 million in commercial real estate. Before joining Stiles, Nick was an Associate Director at GE Capital Real Estate where he sourced over $200 million in financing throughout Florida. Nick is a graduate of the University of Florida with a degree in Finance and a concentration in Real Estate. He serves as a board member and current vice-chair for the United Way of North Central Florida where he also chairs the Development Committee. Nick is actively involved with the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce where he serves as a board member and committee member for the Council for Economic Outreach. He is also a recent graduate of Leadership Gainesville which is a year long leadership program hosted by the Chamber. He is a member of Grace United Methodist Church where he has served as finance chair and as a member of the leadership council. Nick serves as an advisory board member of the University of Florida Bergstrom Center for Real Estate Studies. Nick was recently named chair of the Gainesville committee for the North Florida chapter of Urban Land Institute (ULI). He is a licensed real estate broker in the State of Florida and is a long time member of the International Council of Shopping Centers.

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