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This Hong Kong CEO from a billionaire family is reinventing hotels for millennials

When Sonia Cheng became chief executive of Hong Kong-based Rosewood Hotel Group, she had a particular type of traveler in mind, yah that was her own self.

Cheng was 30 at the time when one of her family’s businesses, New World Hospitality Group, bought Rosewood from its Texan owner for $229.5 million in 2011, and appointed her CEO. She wanted to turn it into a brand that would appeal to affluent younger consumers. Having grown up in her family’s hotel business — the Chengs are worth an estimated $22.5 billion. She had traveled a lot and started her career as an investment banker in New York and Hong Kong.

Now 38, Cheng has four children, and wanted to rethink how kids’ clubs worked at hotels. At Rosewood Phuket, for example, there is a children’s herb garden and a Thai weaving station.

Cheng is the granddaughter of the late Cheng Yu-tung, a Hong Kong property tycoon who died in 2016 with a net worth of $14.5 billion, according to Forbes. The Cheng family’s business interests span from real estate to infrastructure, and its Chow Tai Fook jewelry group is the world’s ninth-largest luxury goods company, according to Deloitte, with sales of $7.6 billion in 2017.

Rosewood owns or operates 27 hotels, including the Carlyle in New York, and it is working on a further 21 properties.

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