One&Only resorts are anticipating a strong business outlook for the coming year on the back of significant developments and openings in 2005. BTN caught up with Mark Allvey, VP, Sales & Marketing at World Travel Market to find out more. “The big news from us at WTM is the recent opening of One&Only Maldives at Reethi Rah, but this year we’ve also opened One&Only Le Touessrock Villas in Mauritius, and then re-opened the One&Only Kanuhara after a significant refurbishment. We’ve certainly been busy.”
He continues, “We think Reethi Rah has taken luxury to a whole new level in the Maldives. We took the smallest island in the Maldives and through land reclamation turned it into the largest. We were able to design this process and create a really unique feeling of space around private coves and beaches. We have incorporated 130 villas, 40 swimming pools into that space, whilst maintaining the philosophy of privacy and exclusivity.”
The resort opened in May and One&Only are very pleased with the progress. “It’s been extremely successful. We been very fortunate with the international media cover and everybody wants to try it.”
One&Only took the opportunity created by this success to close Reethi Rah’s sister resort Kanuhara in order to spend four months rejuvenating, with a lot of focus on the eighteen water villas. However, the company have maintained the island chic of Kanuhara and Mark feels “it’s still a resort where you put your shoes in the wardrobe when you get there and take them out when you leave”. On that note Mark is quick to point out that it’s the not just the hardware that keeps One&Only ahead of the competition, it’s the software and the staff. Reethi Rah has 600 staff for 130 villas.
Next up for One&Only is a planned development in Cape Town, due to open in late 2007. Mark adds that beyond Cape Town, “it’s our intention then to slowly but surely expand the portfolio by looking at opening at one every 12 to 18 months until we get to a critical mass of about 20 to 25, always looking for the right opportunity in the right location.”
After a difficult year Mark sees lots of light at the end of the tunnel for one of the company’s key regions. “There’s no doubt that of course we were impacted by the Tsunami, particularly in the Maldives. I think Reethi Rah has helped to put the Maldives back on the map and whilst the occupancies at all Maldives resorts are not at pre-Tsunami levels they are picking up encouragingly quickly and I think 2006 will be a very strong year for us. Talking to a lot of tour operators here at WTM, that’s the message we’re getting. People are looking long-haul and they’re looking Indian Ocean.”