An interview with property entrepreneur John Hitchcox. John is the co-founder of YOO, a residential and hotel design company with a pioneering vision for living.
Since 1999, YOO has worked with international developers, designing landmark residential and hotel projects throughout Asia, Australia, Europe, Africa, North and South America and the Middle East.
- YOO have completed over 80 projects in 26 countries since 1999. How did the yoo group start?
YOO Worldwide was co-founded by Philippe Starck and myself in 1999. We wanted to bring a unique and innovative approach to designing branded residential developments in the international property market. Now, we have branched out into hotels, renewable energy and also acquired Olympia London. As a brand, YOO has won a reputation for ‘place-making’ and unlocked a whole new mind-set as to what and where a “home” could be.
YOO Hotels and Resorts is the latest venture of the YOO Group, combining design-led lifestyle, great service (we serve like we design), unique experiences and two new hotel brands. YOO2 Hotels are designed by the YOO studio combining the local soul of the destination with the international flair of the YOO studio design.
- What makes YOO successful and why do developers love to work with YOO?
We look at each project individually and can offer a variety of design styles through our unique network of signature designers. Each designer has their own personal style – the common denominator is that every YOO project is about bringing people together and enhancing quality of live through our designs. This way we can also cater to an array of different audiences and tastes. Always at the core of the YOO brand is our ability to add value, visibility and velocity to any development – we have proven over and over again that our approach sells projects faster at a higher rate and on a global level, which is something we are very proud of!
- Where are your latest projects and where are you looking to expand?
We recently completed Khun by yoo inspired by Starck, Thailand’s first ever branded condominium project. It’s located in the Thong Lo district in Bangkok. We also launched the Oh! Wanders & YOO project (in Quito, Ecuador) last year, which was great! It’s Marcel’s first ever residential project and it was fantastic to work with him and bring it to life. We will have projects launching in South America and Asia next year so watch this space! There is always something new going on, which keeps it all interesting.
In terms of expansion plans, we are focusing on Asia at the moment but are happy to take on any project where we feel we can add value to the development.
- You also started the Lakes by yoo project in the Cotswolds – what was the inspiration for this?
My vision was to build a community where parents and kids can enjoy themselves and enjoy nature. Living in the city is great but there is nothing better than being able to retreat into a peaceful home in the country side to spend quality time with the family and see your friends – as they live next door! It’s been fantastic to see the Lakes grow and develop – we have a spa and educational programme for kids now and just acquired another 200 acres to build a few more houses. It has a real community feel and I go there to relax and spend time with my family whenever I can.
- Which business leader or entrepreneur most inspires you and why?
Richard Branson! He is a creative adventurer that has achieved so much and has a very ethical approach to everything he does.
- What would be your dream project to work on?
I am already working on my dream project! We recently acquired Olympia London (together with Deutsche Bank Finance Corporation) and are working on enhancing the area. It’s a very complex project but I love every minute of it!
- What is your greatest achievement so far?
My life has been a great adventure so far and I enjoyed every moment – hopefully it just keeps going that way!
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