From new wellness opportunities to luxury entertainment resorts, and everything in between, the industry is constantly evolving and reimagining the possibilities for travelers. How does a multinational luxury hotel company plot its next moves? Below, we talk with Brett Armitage, Chief Commercial Officer at Kerzner International to gain insight.
Kerzner develops and operates luxury resorts for brands like One&Only and Atlantis (the latter of which just unveiled its latest property, Atlantis The Royal in Dubai, with an opening ceremony headlined by Beyoncé!). Here, Armitage discusses how the company plans to develop and grow—including what they look for in new destinations; adding private homes to their portfolio; the inspiration behind the brand-new Atlantis The Royal and more.
Q&A with Brett Armitage, Chief Commercial Officer at Kerzner International
You have been responsible for several successful launches and integrations of new resorts. When you look to grow the portfolio, what do you look for in a new destination? How do you go about choosing what the next best place will be?
“We have an incredible team of the brightest minds here at Kerzner, so we evaluate each development opportunity individually to determine whether or not it is a fit for us. Every opportunity to grow the portfolio is more than bricks and mortar, we are so passionate and emotionally connected to the chance to bring our brands to life for travelers. What we look for depends on the brand. For One&Only, the brand was born from an idea to create a playground for exceptional travelers seeking a taste of something intangible to talk about once they return home. One&Only resorts can be found in sought-after global destinations that are beacons of unforgettable experiences for travelers, and One&Only has created our own destinations in remote areas (such as Rwanda) to global acclaim. For SIRO, we search for global destinations with a collective of fitness-minded people. Meanwhile for Rare Finds, we look for uniquely captivating properties that deliver a distinct ability to captivate the imagination and showcase a destination via authentic and soulful experiences and a journey of discovery.”
Atlantis The Palm in Dubai is known as one of the world’s top entertainment destinations. With Atlantis The Royal opening in early 2023, what should our members and readers know about the property in comparison to its iconic neighbor?
“Kerzner International owns and manages the Atlantis brand globally. With continuous innovation and exciting new sophisticated experiences, these resorts are always surprising and delighting our guests—no matter how many times they return—with innovative culinary partnerships, exhilarating entertainment experiences that break records and partnerships with internationally acclaimed chefs that offer once in a lifetime dining experiences. While Atlantis, The Palm is an ocean-themed entertainment resort that offers an extraordinary world of adventure and fun, Atlantis, The Royal is an elements-inspired luxury entertainment resort, offering a curated and sensorial journey.”
What was the inspiration behind the new Atlantis The Royal? What do you hope it accomplishes?
“With extraordinary experiences at every turn, guests of Atlantis The Royal can enjoy a world where impossible no longer exists. Atlantis, The Royal will completely redefine the perspective of luxury. Crafted by the world’s leading designers, architects and artists, the luxury entertainment resort will also offer 231 ultra-luxury residences, alongside 17 restaurants and bars, seven of which will be helmed by celebrity chefs. We hope it redefines hospitality in Dubai.”
What do you think is the main factor for customer loyalty to the Atlantis and One&Only brands?
“At Kerzner we know that our guests return to us for an authentic connection to the destination delivered with the highest level of hospitality and attention to detail. We’ve retained a niche within the market of discerning travelers and offer a true oasis of hospitality at each resort and hotel within our portfolio. On a larger scale, Kerzner International is a true pioneer and disruptor in hospitality, conceptualizing entertainment destinations and taking it to a level never previously seen before. We have entertainment in our heritage, and continually deliver new experiences from ground-breaking wellness practices to culinary partnerships with today’s most sought-after chefs. No matter which destination in the portfolio, a Kerzner guest knows they can count on exceptional, heartfelt service and bespoke and unforgettable experiences. No two stays are alike, but there are threads tying them together and bringing the perfect balance of comfort and exploration.”
Are you able to tell us anything about the incoming One&Only resorts: One&Only Kéa Island; One&Only Aesthesis in Greece and One&Only One Za’abeel in Dubai?
“We’re very excited about the upcoming developments. Last year, we announced One&Only Aesthesis in Athens, Greece, opening this coming summer. The resort will celebrate the legendary Athenian Riviera whilst providing stunning, intuitive design. A playful return to nature, the resort is inspired by the azure waters and the incredible natural surroundings. Carved from a palette of natural stone and timber, it will deliver modern Greek elegance yet showcase powerful elements dominant in Greek mythology like fire and water. As with all One&Only properties, the resort will offer innovative programming for families with children whilst carefully preserving space for adults as well. It is the perfect gateway to Europe from the U.S., and an excellent destination to begin or end any Greek adventure.
Also in Greece and opening in 2023, One&Only Kéa Island is situated on a stunning 160-acre beachfront site on Kéa Island in the Cyclades. The resort will provide the ultimate hideaway, with a variety of accommodations, including secluded residential villas perfect for families. The resort will also be home to an indulgent destination spa and a cutting-edge fitness center. One&Only Kéa Island is set to become a culinary destination on the island, offering three restaurants and two bars, each defined by their own ethos, energy, design and flavor, showcasing the bounty of the region.
One&Only One Za’abeel represents the continued evolution of the One&Only portfolio and is very special to us as it continues to grow the Kerzner legacy in our home, Dubai. Set to launch in 2023, the resort will be located in Dubai’s latest architectural icon, One Za’abeel, and will present a two-tower, high-rise mixed-use development incorporating the resort, luxury residences, serviced apartments and office spaces, as well as The Gallery, an opulent retail podium, and a panoramic sky concourse, The Linx, which connects the two towers of One Za’abeel.
And we can’t forget about One&Only Moonlight Basin either—our first property and residential community in the United States. It will be located in Big Sky, Montana, and is set to open in Summer 2024. One&Only Moonlight Basin will showcase Montana’s mountains, unsurpassed scenery and abundant wildlife, while providing every modern amenity, making the remote retreat a truly exclusive experience. The resort will be home to a transformative Chenot Spa, the first in North America.”
One&Only also has plans to add private homes to the collection in certain destinations. Do you believe that people are trending towards this type of travel? Where do you plan to expand private home options?
“We’ve absolutely seen that people are trending towards a residential travel experience. We have experienced an increase in multi-generational bookings, from families who are looking to use their time away to reconnect with loved ones, celebrate being together and commemorate special occasions, to groups of friends reuniting. These bookings allow for privacy while gathering together. Additionally, our Private Home owners enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing their secondary residences are stewarded by the One&Only best-in-class team. From the moment they arrive to visit us, every single detail is handled and every moment is curated, allowing them to ease into a vacation mindset immediately. We are developing One&Only Private Homes at One&Only One Za’abeel, One&Only Kéa Island and One&Only Moonlight Basin and have other destinations on our radar.”
In 2021, Kerzner introduced SIRO, a holistic hospitality experience (standing for Strength, Inclusive, Reflection and Original). These immersive lifestyle destinations offer individuals and groups the ability to discover new places through fitness and wellness activities, with the goal to create a community of like-minded travelers around the world who are striving to become the best version of themselves. How do you think SIRO plays an important role in the future of wellness within travel?
“Wellness has always been an important part of the Kerzner DNA long before the pandemic strengthened a global focus on health and wellness. SIRO was conceived with fitness and well-being at the core, blending the boundaries between hospitality, fitness and wellness through a fresh perspective and energizing experiences. We noticed a growing interest from our guests across the portfolio in living a high-performance lifestyle, driving achievement and living to their fullest potential. These guests aren’t foregoing wellness when they travel, but rather looking to integrate wellness into their journeys. The SIRO experience will offer thrilling ways to discover the destination through a variety of performance fitness activities reflective of each destination with a team of in-house specialists, including trainers, coaches, nutritionists, chefs and ambassadors, who will create an engaging, supportive environment for excellence that is unique to each SIRO location.”
If you could take a guess, what do you think is going to be the most popular travel destination in 2023?
“We’re thrilled to be bringing two additional European resorts—One&Only Aesthesis and One&Only Kéa Island, both in Greece—to the market this year. I also think Asia will have a surge in demand, given the recent reopening of some destinations following Covid closures. Personally, I love Mexico. While it’s a known destination to most Americans, my friends in Europe and Dubai are more and more heading to Mexico for a first-hand taste of the joyous and warm hospitality and rich culture.”
At Indagare, we believe that how you travel matters. What was the most memorable travel moment on a recent trip you took?
“I recently went to the Maldives and stayed at One&Only Reethi Rah for five days on a solo journey of discovery. While it’s seen as such a romantic destination, it’s also a phenomenal destination for a single traveler. I soaked up the bright sunshine and leaned into the solitude. I took early morning beach walks listening to my podcasts and midday yoga breaks. I spent afternoons doing beach workouts and catching up on my reading list whilst enjoying the most incredible fresh, healthy meals. It was such a rejuvenating, serene trip and a wonderful reset. I came back to the office and my everyday life so centerd and refreshed to dive into a busy 2023.”