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Wanted: Privacy and space.
By Yeoh Siew Hoon ~ thetransitcafe.com
Friday, 16th February 2007
 
Give me more than a private pool villa - That's what Michael Sagild - who is building the Anantara brand - believes future resort customers will say, he tells Yeoh Siew Hoon why.

Anantara Resort Maldives: Boasts both privacy and spaceThe two rarest commodities of the future will be privacy and space and the luxury leisure travellers of tomorrow will have needs that go beyond a private pool villa, said Michael Sagild, chief operating officer of Thailand-based Minor International.

Talking about the "the next big thing" in resort development, the man, charged with building the group's new brand, Anantara Hotels & Resorts, said, "I think personal space and an individualized service approach will be the main areas of growth.

"With more and more people crowding an ever smaller world, the luxury leisure travelers of tomorrow want much more than just a private pool villa. People want privacy and space to be themselves, to relax and unwind.

"The customer of tomorrow is a ‘know' customer, no longer a ‘show' customer. This customer is a ‘materialist' but makes very emotional decisions when choosing a resort. They are also ‘experimentalists' and seek to enrich their lives. Everything they surround themselves with creates experiences – this is where the future of luxury tourism lies as privacy and space become increasingly rare commodities today."

This probably explains the approach Anantara is taking as it expands beyond Thailand, its home base.

Michael Sagild (right): "The customer of tomorrow is a ‘know' customer, no longer a 'show' customer."

Last September, it opened its first overseas resort in the Maldives which boasts both space and privacy. Set on a five-acre island in the South Male Atoll, Anantara Resort Maldives features 70 beach villas and 40 exclusive villas suspended over a natural, private lagoon.

And more resorts are in the pipeline. The company is developing two, wholly-owned Anantara properties in Phuket and Khao Lak, Thailand and it has announced forthcoming Anantara Resorts in Seminyak (Bali), Hoi An (Vietnam) and Bentota (Sri Lanka).

Sagild said the group would further develop its network this year and was actively seeking to consolidate its portfolio in the Indian Ocean. "We are exploring opportunities to shore up partnerships in Mauritius and the Seychelles."

Anantara has said it is aiming to have 30 hotels by 2011 in Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East and North Africa and Sagild said that with the seven new resorts already announced, and a few more to be announced shortly, "we are already halfway there".

He knows though that as Anantara expands, it needs to differentiate itself from other resort brands such as Alila, Aman, Six Senses or Banyan Tree or it could be labeled as yet another wanna-be resort operator.

"The essential element of the Anantara philosophy and culture is destination experience. Anantara is based upon brand pillars which include indigenous (a sense of belonging, and a distinct and unique destination of each property), individuality (for our guests, and individuality in the design and concept of the resorts), passion (the way we do things) and of course the experience itself.

"The experience is exemplified by not only the design and service but also by the soft adventure activities we provide in our resorts.

"For example, our elephant camps – we are looking at an additional resort with an important elephant camp hosting 25 beautiful pachyderms. We are creating a ship building museum and indigenous cooking schools at all of our resorts.

Right: Private pool villa: Heavenly...

"I believe several of our competitors share some essence of the Anantara brand, but it is the combination of the four brand pillars which makes Anantara unique and differentiated."

Sagild also said that as Anantara's owner, Minor International, expands into hospitality, the company will create "the right brand for the right place and time".

"At present, we are in the final stage of presenting a collection of ultra luxury travel experiences and we are also in the process of developing a luxury, fun and exciting city hotel brand. However, both of those brands will not be linked to the Anantara concept as they are positioned for a slightly different consumer – even though they will be very much experience-led."

One area too that Sagild is keen to build and which he hopes will further differentiate the Anantara brand is the building of communities around its Web presence. Call it Anantara 2.0.

Its website will be relaunched in March and on it, he said, "passionate insiders will host blogs and share insights and information. However, this is just the start of many endeavors and we are quite excited to bring this into the core, the very essence of the brand."

The SHY Report
A regular column on news, trends and issues in the hospitality industry by one of Asia's most respected travel editors and commentators, Yeoh Siew Hoon.

Siew Hoon, who has covered the tourism industry in Asia/Pacific for the past 20 years, runs SHY Ventures Pte Ltd. Her company's mission is "Content, Communication, Connection".


She is a writer, speaker, facilitator, trainer and events producer. She is also an author, having published "Around Asia In 1 Hr: Tales of Condoms, Chillies & Curries". Her motto is ‘free to do, and be'.

Contacts: Tel: 65-63424934, Mobile: 65-96801460

Yeoh Siew Hoon's other writings can be found at www.thetransitcafe.com . Get your weekly cuppa of news, gossip, humour and opinion at the cafe for travel insiders.
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