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The Most Exciting New Luxury Hotels, Cruises, and More with Marriott International’s Chris Gabaldon

There’s a lot going on in luxury travel in 2022, and Marriott International’s Chris Gabaldon has a bird’s-eye view of what’s new, what’s hot, and where we should go next. He speaks with Bruce about upcoming hotels, the soon-to-launch Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, and what people are looking for as they venture back into the world of travel.

There are countless reasons to love travel, but for many people, the magic of a great hotel experience drives their passion. Marriott International’s Senior Vice President of Luxury Brands, Chris Gabaldon, joins Bruce Wallin to talk about some of the more than 130 new Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, and other hotels that his company will be opening in the coming months and years—but also about his personal love for hotels and travel.

Gabaldon points out that many historic hotels, such as the St. Regis New York, have lived through multiple wars, pandemics, and other human tragedies. Their presence today, he says, is comforting, landmarks that have stood the test of time and continue to bring guests and staff together. But for Gabaldon, the primary draw of travel is to explore something new. He does not need it to be a glamorous experience; he wants it to be different and something he hasn’t seen before. In the last year, traveling for him has been about getting in the car and driving up the New England coast to discover smaller towns he’s never visited before.

Gabaldon believes that our newfound love of local travel isn’t going away anytime soon. We are going to continue to see an increase in travel to the ‘second-tier cities.’ But he also believes that bucket-list travel is starting to reemerge. 

Of the many new openings in Gabaldon’s portfolio of brands—which, in addition to Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis, includes the Luxury Collection, W Hotels, and more—he’s particularly excited about the upcoming W properties in Rome and Nashville. The brand, he says, is going through a rebirth, and he’s eager to see the new design come to life. He also cites the St. Regis Chicago, which will be the city’s tallest hotel, and Ritz-Carltons in Mexico City, the Riviera Maya in Mexico, the Maldives, and Paradise Valley in Arizona. In the Luxury Collection—which he describes as incredibly localized hotels that have much more freedom with their design, culinary, and culture to truly become immersed in the destinations—he talks about new properties in Tasmania, Budapest, and Nashville.  

Finally, Gabaldon discusses the launch of the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection. He speaks to the challenges of launching a cruise brand during a pandemic and how there have been several unforeseen factors such as the disruption of the supply chain. Despite these hurdles, the brand is on course to launch in May of 2022 and in so doing, he says, will usher in a unique experience on the seas.

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Hosted by: Bruce Wallin

Produced and edited by: AJ Moseley & Darra Stone

Music by: Joey Salvia