ASKING Minor Hotels’ Head Honcho Mark Thomson to name his favourite hotel is like asking a parent with a big family to nominate their most cherished child.
That’s because picking one property is a big ask when the Bangkok-based business, launched four decades ago by hospitality innovator Bill Heinecke, has more than 530 hotels and resorts in 53 countries.
The impressive inventory falls into six in-house brands – Anantara, Avani, Elewana Collection, Oaks, NH, and Tivoli Hotels & Resorts – with holiday havens in Australia, the Middle East, Asia, Africa, Europe and South America.
KARRYON met Mark for cocktails when he was back home in Australia, making a stop in Melbourne before going north to see his folks, and while we couldn’t get him to commit to a favourite hotel it was clear he has a soft spot for Anantara.
What do the different Minor Hotel’s brands offer travellers?
Avani is a contemporary brand launched in response to a growing group whose properties are service, style and value while Oaks provides a home away from home for savvy corporate and leisure travellers alike.
Elewana Collection (below) is 16 boutique lodges, camps and hotels across Kenya and Tanzania with each selected for its unique accommodation and iconic location and NH is a Spanish chain operating over 350 modern mid and up-scale hotels in 28 countries.
How is Anantara evolving?
Anantara is a luxury brand for modern travellers, connecting them to genuine places and people through personal experiences, and providing heartfelt hospitality in the world’s most exciting destinations.
We have 39 properties now, when I started with Minor Hotels nine years ago it was only 12, and we’re looking at 50 by 2022 so that’s not massive growth.
We will open four new properties before the end of 2019 with Anantara Marau Bahia Resort in Brazil, Malaysia’s Anantara Desaru Coast Resort & Villas (above), Anantara Iko Mauritius Resort and Anantara Tozeur Resort in Tunisia.
What does Anantara do that makes you proud?
The whole ethos of Anantara is to preserve amazing destinations and we contribute to social and environmental projects in each country we operate.
We support our communities through grassroots involvement as well as matching guest donations to organisations providing vital services such as children’s surgeries and wildlife protection.
In the UAE we’ve contributed to cheetah breeding efforts, in the Maldives it’s coral adoption (below), and we cherish the role our guests play in these and dozens of additional initiatives every year.
How is the resort-style holiday changing?
There are some people who still want to sit beside the pool for a week but we’re finding most of our guests are looking for an experience.
The trend is changing to wellness holidays, food holidays, adventure holidays, and Anantara is able to cater for all that.
Our guests know the room is good, so they are looking to see what else they can do and that might be swimming with sharks or going to the morning market with the chef before a cooking class.
Everyone is using the term experience now and we understand you can go to a beautiful and untouched part of the world but it’s the experiences that happen around the stay that make the story.
Where will travellers be going in 2012?
Australia is consistently in the top five countries for visitors to Southeast Asia and the Maldives in the past five year and visits are on the rise in the Middle East and Africa due to increased air routes.
I see North Africa really bouncing back next year, from Morocco to Egypt, and I’m especially excited about Tunisia.
It has beautiful beaches, Tunis has a mixture of European and Middle Eastern influences so fantastic food and shopping in souks, and there’s so much local culture to explore.
Anantara Tozeur Resort is located in the southwest of Tunisia on the edge of the Sahara Desert which will provide the perfect base to explore an untouched area.
It’s a contemporary retreat of lush palm trees and meandering swimming pools rising from the desert, and for Star Wars fans the resort is right next to where the original 1977 blockbuster was filmed.