Ever since 1897, we have travelled in style, creating defining moments and beautiful performances for our guests. From the charms of the Belle Epoque to the extravagances of the opulent 70s, Kempinski has evolved through the ages, keeping pace with trends in fashion and design that defined each era. When we expanded across the globe in the 1990s, widening our constellation of beautiful havens, we carried the spirit of European luxury with us, embellished with the subtle flavours of the destinations we now call home.
The early 20th century is a time of new beginnings in Berlin. Elegant audiences queue up outside gleaming theatres and innovative restaurants, like the one owned by Berthold Kempinski. The wine merchant and restaurateur delights his diners with thoughtful touches and affordable luxuries, offering delectable wines by the glass and daily set menus to complement extravagant seasonal delicacies like lobster and crayfish. The first Kempinski wine restaurant, in Leipziger Strasse 25, becomes a social hub, with several elegant dining halls, including the opulent Emperor’s Hall, which is inaugurated by Kaiser Wilhelm II.
By the late 20s, Berlin is the heart of Europe’s cinema and entertainment business. Joyful concert halls and warmly lit restaurants, like the new Kempinski in Kurfuerstendamm 27, welcome visitors every night of the week, helping to spread M. Kempinski & Co.’s reputation for excellence. In 1928, the magnificent spectacle of Haus Vaterland in Potsdamer Platz puts Kempinski firmly on the map as a purveyor of unique experiences. Music and laughter ring through the elaborately decorated dining rooms, each dedicated to cuisine from a different part of the world, and the venue becomes known as an authentic dining destination extravaganza.
When Berthold Kempinski’s grandson Dr Friedrich Unger returns from the US to take over the family business, West Berlin is an island of opportunity for the aspiring hotelier. In 1952, he transforms the Kempinski restaurant in Kurfuerstendamm 27 into the first new luxury hotel in the city. It instantly becomes the place to be for Berlin’s fashion-forward residents. Heads of state, celebrities and Nobel Prize-winners like Albert Einstein call the Bristol home, and during his stay in 1963, US President John F. Kennedy famously tells the people of Berlin, “Ich bin ein Berliner.”
After the fashion revolution of the 1960s, the decade that follows is one of opulence and indulgence that creates the rise of a new breed of luxury traveller. Kempinski’s European expansion continues with Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten in Munich—Germany’s new capital of culture, where trendsetting chiceria are the 70s precursor to modern-day influencers—and Hotel Gravenbruch on the outskirts of Frankfurt. Lavish decor, designer luggage and first-class amenities become de rigueur in Europe’s grand hotels, where a new Golden Age of luxury travel begins.
In the early 90s, China is a relatively unknown entity on the world tourism stage. But as the Red Dragon begins to stir, Kempinski sees an opportunity. A gleaming new hotel in the heart of Beijing’s diplomatic district provides a gateway for Europeans eager to do business in the country, while intrepid travellers pass through en route to the Forbidden City and the Great Wall. The combination of European luxury, first-class service and local flavours proves to be popular among locals and visitors alike, and the Kempinski constellation expands across China and the wider Asia-Pacific region.
By the mid-2000s, Kempinski is well established in the Arabian Peninsula, having unveiled a luxurious beach resort in the sleepy seaside emirate of Ajman and one of the most opulent and palatial hotels in the world in Abu Dhabi. The company’s ability to offer first-class experiences rooted in Arabian culture is recognised and an urban escape adjoining Mall of the Emirates soon debuts in Dubai, with Swiss chalet-inspired penthouses overlooking the snowy slopes of Ski Dubai. Other hotels follow across Arabia and the wider Middle East, with beautiful locations in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Jordan and Egypt.
Culture, community and heritage play a leading role at the first Kempinski luxury safari camp in Kenya’s Masai Mara, where guests find themselves immersed in traditional ceremonies and rituals in between game drives and wildlife encounters. The camp paves the way for further adventures in Africa. New hotels open in key gateway cities like Nairobi, Accra and Djibouti, and the spectacular Kempinski Seychelles Resort Baie Lazare invites travellers to experience an Indian Ocean hideaway infused with signature Kempinski style.
Among the great capital cities of the Americas, few exude the charm and grandeur of Havana. When Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski La Habana debuts in 2017, it is instantly recognised as the first true luxury property in the city. Further openings follow in Cuba, and Kempinski journeys across the Lesser Antilles to open a spectacular new beachfront address in Dominica, the ‘Nature Island’ of the Caribbean. A few years later, guests are welcomed to North America for the first time, with the crystal-clear waters and sugary white sand of Cancún, México.