YOO Worldwide VP Rich Millar on connecting local soul with cutting-edge design

Yoo2 Phuket — the chain's first hotel in Southeast Asia — will open in 2021.

Yoo2's short-term goal is to establish hotels in all major Southeast Asian cities (Photo: Yoo2)

Options: Is this your first time in Malaysia? What is your impression of Kuala Lumpur?
Rich Millar:
It is, and it certainly won’t be my last! And I know now that there are immense opportunities [in the country] for a fresh, clever brand like Yoo2! Well, I live in Thailand, so the first thing I noticed was how clean everything is, the drivers drive so nicely, the roads are well maintained and [there is] far less traffic! English is well spoken, the warmth of the people feels so genuine and the hospitality is fantastic. What more could I want?

What makes the Yoo2 hotel unique?
Exceptional Yoo interior design and furnishings to start with, which other hospitality brands cannot buy; very clever space allocation and optimisation, together with highly unique and awe-inspiring amenity spaces; and award-winning culinary and beverage curation — all packaged and presented with our world-class marketing and branding expertise.


Yoo2 Rio de Janeiro's city view plus room (Photo: Yoo2 Hotels)

What are your short-term and long-term goals in your role as vice-president for business development?
The short-term goal is to establish Yoo2 hotels in all major Southeast Asian cities and prime resort locations while continuing to drive our leadership in the branded residence arena. [In the] longer term, we will look to add a second or even a third location as we still see an undersupply of truly unique hospitality products like ours. Meanwhile, we are developing new product categories such as co-working and co-living, among others, and these can be stand-alone or  integrated into mixed-use projects.

What has been your most significant career moment so far?
I have worked with Yoo in various roles for about 15 years, including managing its activities in Scandinavia previously. But I must say, the opportunity to develop such a large and critical region as Asia-Pacific is truly a dream job and I’m so grateful for the faith the company has put in me!


Yoo2 Rio de Janeiro's celebration suite features pops of colour (Photo: Yoo2 Hotels)

When travelling for leisure, what do you look for in a hotel?
For leisure, it will be a resort location for sure and most likely someplace I’ve never been before. Discreet service is paramount, a room with a stunning view helps, a motorbike for exploring is a must, and a great pool — I swim to de-stress!

What book are you reading at the moment?
David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell, a fascinating and well-told story rooted in biblical myth and history, and reminds us that clever youth can almost always beat the giants — much like Yoo2 and the huge global hotel groups!


This article first appeared on July 15, 2019 in The Edge Malaysia. ​


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