Hope & Sesame Setting the Bar Higher and Higher

Founded in 1893, Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne is broadly acknowledged as basically the most traditional hospitality college on this planet. 

It became right here that Bastien Ciocca met Andrew Ho. 

Graduating from a prestigious Swiss hospitality college is how one will get the likelihood to enter the sphere of premium hotels. 

Shangri-La Group drafted Ciocca whereas his Hongkongnese friend Ho became picked to play for Gigantic Hyatt.


Ciocca and Ho no longer too prolonged in the past opened a bar in Chengdu for Ralph Lauren. Image by technique of HOPE Group

“Chinese resort groups receive you work lots,” Ciocca provides with a chortle. 

“Some other (world) resort groups are lots extra chill, but Shangri-La is amazingly traumatic, and they no doubt squeeze you. Nonetheless in this vogue, you be taught lots. You’ll want to per chance per chance devour rather a vast range of responsibilities. Strive to be pondering about finance. Strive to be pondering about HR and all the aspects of hospitality. This connected the dots…”

In 2016, Ho and Ciocca made up our minds it became time to leave the rigorous world of luxury hotels and dive into a smaller, extra personalized endeavour. 

“We were form of like fit. Let’s set all the pieces in the wait on of us. We want to be extra cool, extra uncomplicated.” 

And Hope & Sesame became born.

hope-sesame-shenzhen.jpgImage by technique of HOPE Group

The inception of Hope & Sesame got right here from a wish to innovate interior the cocktail scene, and the duo’s huge luxury resort journey plays an integral role. 

“Through the years, as the crew grew, we started to set wait on rather a vast range of practices that we realized in hotels.”

Ciocca believes that, above all else, a accurate crew is the secret to a profitable bar. 

In bellow to in finding and nurture that expertise, the householders could per chance per chance just serene be passionate but that on my own is never any longer sufficient. 

“The complexity of the system is, whereas you happen to nail down a accurate crew that works smartly in that space, the energy and the accurate possibilities will follow.”


The bar crew and cocktail menu at Hope and Sesame Guangzhou were no longer too prolonged in the past nominated as high ten on this planet for the 18th annual Animated Awards. Image by technique of HOPE Group

“The householders need ardour to outlive the u.s.a.and downs, and a few of the crucial crew will leave. You always must in finding original members who can elevate the hospitality that you no doubt settle on. The flavors, the creativity; all the pieces receive of comes after. You’ll want to per chance per chance per chance also hire a manual to receive all the pieces for you, but can devour to you lack that keenness, then industry goes to die down after one or two years.”


Ciocca credit ranking the success of his and Ho’s bars to their passionate crew. Image by technique of HOPE Group

A technique that Ciocca and Ho take the fervour burning interior their team is by returning to their roots. 

Must you strike up a conversation with one amongst the characters at work in a single amongst their 5 establishments, there could be a accurate likelihood that they are going to most doubtless be doing a ‘stage’ ahead of graduating from Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne themselves. 

“These students devour two a host of paths to device end from,” Ciocca elaborates. 

“Either they work for a truly shrimp company like ours, or they enrol in management practising for Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental, or Ritz Carlton – those gigantic luxury resort groups.”

Team-Hope-Group-copy.jpgA series of Hospitality graduates devour returned to work with HOPE Group. Image by technique of HOPE Group

The students who device end Hope Group for their work journey seem to devour it because they return like moths to a flame. 

“About eight or nine devour attain wait on to us for six months, and some even joined our company after they graduated,” Ciocca tells us proudly. 

“Through the years, we now devour kept rather a end relationship with the college.”

sanyou-shenzhen-4.jpgImage by technique of HOPE Group

Hope & Sesame is basically the most traditional bar in Mainland China, in accordance to The World’s 50 Absolute best Bars, the Michelin-starred ranking authority for locations to drink. 

Hope & Sesame became ranked 18th in Asia’s Absolute best Bars 2022, sliding to number 39 in 2023 and retaining at 74th on this planet. 

Hong Kong has some unheard of contenders, and COA has held the tip save for a pair of years, but as prolonged as we take them at arm’s length, then the normal assertion holds keen.


Image by technique of HOPE Group

When requested about a bar that Ciocca visits as a buyer and is never any doubt impressed by, he also aspects us to Hong Kong. 

“There is a bar in Hong Kong known as Bar Leone,” he tells us.

“It be a truly identical mindset to Charlie’s (one amongst Hope Group’s outdated ventures, which now bears the identify DSK). Nonetheless it just opened barely a twelve months and a half of in the past. Bar Leone is all about Italian drinks and meals from the 1950s and 60s. It be smartly done but unassuming, no longer overly premium, and no longer attempting to convey off with like sofas and glassware and stuff.”


Aya is the Head Bartender at SanYou Shenzhen. Image by technique of HOPE Group

“Nonetheless the hospitality is continuously on level,” Ciocca provides, giving us a clue to his answer to our final inquire. 

“Whereas you chase to Bar Leone, you inquire your self why you form no longer chase extra most regularly. The products are no doubt smartly performed, so no topic you bellow, whether or no longer or no longer it is a coffee or a sandwich, or no longer it is like basically the most traditional thing ever. They’re very famed for this mozzarella sandwich, which is form of like a panini. And the identical with the cocktails. They’ve some cocktails on tap, that are extremely tasty. You’ll want to per chance per chance per chance no longer mediate or no longer it is just been poured from a draft machine.”


Image by technique of HOPE Group

We didn’t are anticipating a feeble answer from someone with as a lot acclaim in the industry as Ciocca, but we by no plot would devour guessed a chain like this: an Italian delicatessen time-capsule cocktail bar. 

We receive a psychological show to are trying it out.

“Bars like this, I mediate, could per chance per chance just no longer resonate with beginners and of us that form no longer no doubt realize cocktails. They’ll mediate, ‘Why the hell are of us telling us to realize wait on right here?’ People convey or no longer it is astonishing, but it indubitably’s no longer very gigantic, and it would not devour any over-the-high big decor. Nonetheless whereas you happen to’re making that energy, you in finding the ‘suitable’ possibilities – no longer just of us that wish to convey up and handle about a photos.”

We show the fortitude of Hong Kong’s cocktail scene, and likewise Shanghai’s, questioning how Ciocca thinks the Better Bay Situation stacks up.


Image by technique of HOPE Group

“I mediate the tradition in Shanghai is amazingly stable, but Guangzhou has odd settings the save many bars are owned by bartenders. It be most regularly one one that has worked for 4-5 years, made some money, or borrowed some from family, and then opened a chain. The associated payment of opening issues in Guangzhou is never any longer as high when compared to Shanghai or Hong Kong, making it that it is probably you’ll per chance per chance per chance imagine to form so, which is very uncommon wherever on this planet. In Guangzhou, many locations take high quality since the proprietor has a stable imaginative and prescient of what they wish to form. They simply chase for it and originate their procure save. In other cities across China and even extra so in a foreign country, there are frequently quite a lot of shareholders and partners fervent. These partners could per chance per chance convey, ‘We need a PR company, a famed designer, an architect,’ and the costs skyrocket. This makes the total endeavor extra conservative since there could be a could per chance per chance just serene be sure the funding brings wait on income. In distinction, in Guangzhou, many folks are extra carefree. They mediate, ‘I’ve got a thought, I wish to avoid losing that. Here is my conception.’ They could per chance per chance just no longer take many events or promotions, and they could per chance per chance just no longer devour the sources to rob rather a vast range of KOLs and magazines. Nonetheless, the quality they elevate remains very high.”


Lola is the Head Bartender at Hope & Sesame Shenzhen. Image by technique of HOPE Group

Nonetheless, Ciocca also admits that the tradition itself is changing with the cases. 

“The total landscape of cocktail consumption is changing,” Ciocca notes. 

“Beforehand, making cocktails at home became no longer a huge pattern in China, not like in the US, Canada, or Australia, the save internet hosting home events with about a bottles and juices is overall. Nonetheless, this has started to swap dramatically.”


Image by technique of HOPE Group

This shift became partly pushed by financial components and a rising need among Chinese customers to repeat the bar journey at home. 

“People are saying, ‘Hey, I will remove a bottle of vodka for around RMB100 on Taobao. I will receive drinks myself, and it would not cost a lot.’ It be no longer on the discipline of saving money; or no longer additionally it is about attempting cool, shining how to mix your procure drinks.”

Nonetheless, this pattern has implications for former bars, in particular those in cities like Shenzhen, the save the price of cocktails has surged. 

“You’ll want to per chance per chance devour original bars opening the save a gin and tonic charges around RMB150, which is steep brooding referring to the categorical cost of gear. When borders reopened, and of us started touring extra, they started evaluating costs. They’d wonder why a drink in Thailand charges RMB60 when or no longer it is the identical quality as what they in finding wait on home for some distance extra.”

This price sensitivity has resulted in revolutionary user behaviors that suppose former bar settings. 

“I’ve considered lots in Shenzhen the save of us remove a bottle of spirits and in finding it dropped at their location. They inquire the restaurant for ice and glasses and then bellow snacks and beers to transfer with their bottle. It turns out some distance more cost-effective than ordering at a cocktail bar, and usually the meals is better, too.”

Glasses-on-table-Sanyou.jpgImage by technique of HOPE Group

Per Ciocca, this evolution is pushing bars in direction of two extremes. 

“On one pause, you have to bars lowering costs critically, making it pointless to remove on Taobao and bring it your self. On the opposite pause, you have to bars that attention on turning in high quality experiences that it is probably you’ll per chance per chance per chance no longer replicate at home – these are the locations that serene device of us in. The center-tier bars, which form no longer provide distinctive quality or price, are the ones struggling basically the most.”

Ciocca believes that in the volatile and unforgiving hospitality industry, the glorious side for success is ardour. 

He emphasizes that a crew or householders must devour a deep ardour for the industry. 

This ardour lets in them to navigate the inevitable u.s.a.and downs, comparable to crew members leaving and desiring to in finding original expertise who can elevate the specified level of hospitality and creativity.


Chen is the Bar Supervisor at SanYou Shenzhen. Image by technique of HOPE Group

Ciocca aspects out that whereas having great financial sources can allow one to hire consultants to handle varied aspects of the industry, with out ardour, the endeavor is probably going to falter after a twelve months or two. 

For prolonged-term success, a exact fancy and dedication to the industry are mandatory. 

This ardour drives continuous innovation and adaptation, making sure that the industry remains relevant and shiny over time.

Space is also a important side. 

Ciocca notes that having a top location with high tourist internet site internet site visitors can receive a distinguished distinction. 

In such locations, even mediocre establishments can thrive as a consequence of the sheer quantity of vacationers.

Nonetheless, for a vast range of agencies, success hinges on the crew’s means to take their enthusiasm and adapt to changing instances. 

With out a passionate and devoted crew, even basically the most traditional location can not bid prolonged-term success.

Ciocca also highlights the importance of affirming a stable crew. 

Many bars starting up up with a highly creative and motivated crew, but after a pair of years, they may be able to lose their sparkle and magic. 

This lack of enthusiasm most regularly outcomes in a decline in quality and buyer journey, contributing to the short lifespan of many establishments. 

Thus, sustaining ardour and constantly fostering a dynamic crew atmosphere are mandatory for enduring success in the hospitality industry.

[Cover image via HOPE Group]

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