It took a move to Beverly Hills for Chef Nobu Matsuhisa to perfect his Peruvian-influenced Japanese cuisine. More than three decades later, and now owned by Matsuhisa, Robert De Niro and film producer Meir Teper, Nobu isn’t so much a brand as it is an institution (the bustling restaurant at Caesars Palace Las Vegas is capable of feeding more than 600 guests in a single night). With Nobu-branded restaurants, hotels and now residences around the world, including London, Moscow, Budapest, Tokyo, Melbourne and Cape Town, the group effortlessly fuses fine dining and hospitality in every destination.
What was the trigger to enter the hotel industry? And why Los Vegas as the initial launch? CEO Trevor Horwell: Since opening the first Nobu restaurant 28 years ago, the brand has been focused on creating memorable experiences around food. With hotels, the Nobu name has evolved far beyond the dining experience. So, after looking at what Nobu has brought to the global food scene, we decided to translate that feeling of excitement and vibrancy into hotels.
Both Caesars Palace and Nobu are synonymous with achieving the highest level of guest satisfaction, creating unforgettable moments and delivering luxury through experiences. It was a natural choice for us. We have since expanded our partnership to include hotels in Atlantic City and New Orleans, as well as a third restaurant in Las Vegas in Paris.
Why did you decide to include residences in some of the properties slated to open over the next few years? Trevor: Our customers want luxury, but in a discreet and authentic way. And they want fantastic meals and friendly service. The Residences allow us to offer this Nobu lifestyle to buyers. They exemplify what Nobu stands for – a place to relax in unpretentious luxury – while feeling like you’re part of something special. The upcoming Nobu Hotel and Residences in Toronto is one of our most ambitious launches. We are developing twin towers that will include 660 residential units and a Nobu Hotel, with suites above the residences. We sold every square foot within three months of launch. We are currently developing residences in Los Cabos, Al Khobar, Tulum, Orlando, Punta Cana and Da Nang.
The brand has existed for more than 25 years, and after? Meir Teper: We have exciting projects in the works. We are opening Nobu Hotel and Restaurant Rome, our first Italian property, which will debut later this year alongside openings in Santorini, Atlanta, Atlantic City and Marrakech. We also just announced our 30th hotel, which has been an incredibly exciting milestone: Nobu Hotel, Restaurant and Residences in Tulum.
How do you select the chefs for each of the new restaurants? Nobu Matsuhisa: Nobu is a global brand and we have a very multicultural team. One of our greatest strengths is that we promote from within. Our chefs have all undergone extensive training at one or more Nobu locations for several years before taking charge of their own kitchens.
I read an interview in which Trevor Horwell said, “Nothing in a Nobu hotel is a carbon copy, and each property reflects its given locality.” Tell me about how you learn about a destination and a culture in order to represent that authentically in the space? Do you have specific examples? Meir: Design is the basis of every Nobu hotel. It’s that mix of modern cool luxury and minimal Japanese traditionalism. And, while there are consistent elements of Japanese-inspired design throughout the portfolio, Japanese teak baths in Los Cabos; the Kintsugi accents in Barcelona and the Japanese-inspired color palette in Portman Square, we stay true to each destination.
Our team researches local textiles and crafts, then adds design touches inspired by these artisans. We also take inspiration from great interior designers, such as David Rockwell, Severine Tatangelo and Simon Rawlings (David Collins Studio), who have all designed hotels and restaurants for the brand.
Nobu: We use local employees to drive the local experience. If you’re going to Cabo, we’ve added regional dishes to the menu and scheduled events with the help of local curators. Even the music is selected according to the destination.
What is your approach to sustainable development for today and in the future? Meir: We are committed to providing more sustainable products and services to customers, without compromising the experience. Our approach to sustainability differs at each property. For example, Nobu Hotel Manila eliminates waste by reusing coffee grounds and organic waste in the on-site vermicomposting facility. Once processed, the organic compost is used in the herb garden and general landscaping. It was also the first resort in the country to install solar panels.
Hotel with the best view Trevor: The restaurant at Nobu Hotel Barcelona. It’s the 23rdrd floor and offers a view of the whole city.
What do you always carry when you travel? Nobu: Nike sneakers and sportswear. I also keep a pair in every Nobu kitchen, as I like to exercise after a trip.
The best sequel? Meir: The Nobu Villa at Nobu Hotel Caesars Palace is amazing.
Favorite meal? Trevor: It must be the black cod miso.