Aman Resorts CEO on the latest exciting developments at the luxury hotelier

Olivier Jolivet, CEO of the iconic Aman Resorts, one of the world’s leading luxury resort operators has spoken exclusively to CPP-LUXURY.COM about the company’s exciting development plans under new ownership.

Since your company’s ownership change, AMAN has been experiencing a revival. Tell us more about your key strategic initiatives already undertaken and planned. 

That is true and I would add that our brand DNA is stronger than ever. Aman’s DNA is based on four main pillars whereby we offer space, intimacy, impeccable service and design. This is very much what defines Aman and has remained a constant focus over the 27 year history of the brand.

Aman is not in a competition against time or striving to be the biggest – our leadership is focussed on offering excellence in every element of what we do. We consider ourselves to be distinct and our mantra is that we must not do things differently, but that we do different things.

Moving forward, we will continue to seek out exceptional locations to continue to satiate the wanderlust of our Amanjunkies, but we will never ever compromise along the way. We gently grow, having a maximum of three openings per year, not more. This is our cruising speed and something that we feel very comfortable at.

Has your business model changed in any way? Do you also invest in the properties you operate? 

Our business model has not changed. It is very much based on the intangibles that can only come from a small collection of resorts and which are run by our personable general managers as if welcoming you to their own family home.

As a result, all our resorts have their very own soul, they are small, personal and unique – and the new ones are no exception. You will continue to find them in the most beautiful locations, with a limited number of rooms, a layout complementing their surroundings and a dedicated team that ensures you feel the Aman spirit.

Tokyo is a clear example of how we have kept the Aman brand consistent – from the location, to the design which indeed gives a nod to the Japanese Zen style of living, to the food and most of all the service.

We continually invest in all our resorts whether they are owned or managed. For us, decisions are entirely made based on our commitment to offering our guests the most exceptional experiences.

With Tokyo, you made your foray into city hotels. Do you plan other city hotels? 

Aman Tokyo was our first vertical hotel and joined Aman Summer Palace as one of our urban resorts. It actually happened quite by chance, but we had been longing to create an Aman in Tokyo for some time. For Aman Tokyo, we created something that did not previously exist in Tokyo – an urban resort offering space, intimacy and excellence in service. It presented us with a challenge as Japan is the most sophisticated country in the world, but I believe that there is a natural element of Japanese culture inherent in our DNA where we share similarities of discretion, elegance, Zen and the general notion that ‘less is more’. We felt that if we could succeed in Tokyo, we could succeed anywhere.

Many analysis considered that AMAN was lacking a digital presence and had limited advertising / promotion. Has this approached changed? Or you will maintain it as part of your strategic business approach towards communications? 

I would agree with you on that, but that is all part of our strategy – less is more! We never want to be perceived as over communicated, especially in the ever ‘noisy’ technology-led modern world that is today. In fact, many of our guests travel with us to escape just that. We don’t sell ‘rooms’, but ‘experiences’ and we are incredibly fortunate to have such a loyal following from our Amanjunkies and those who are recommended to us via positive word of mouth…this comes from personal interaction and digital presence doesn’t play a part in that.

That said, we have just relaunched our website, in keeping with our philosophy of inspiring guests with insightful journeys. The website is a window on the Aman lifestyle and provides a lust for far-away places and the desire for discovery. It will, no doubt, be a catalyst to a journey like no-other offering the restorative power of time, space and privacy.

 Are there any particular destinations you are targeting for new openings? 

Ah, one thing that will remain absolutely constant with Aman is a little secrecy and intrigue surrounding where next. That said, I can tell you that we are looking very closely at some other world cities, as well as a very undiscovered and unique part of Africa.

We are often led by our Amanjunkies with whom we share the same philosophy. Our Amanjunkies remain the heart of our brand and are very much at the core of my focus and consideration for new developments. I am in touch with many of our Amanjunkies on a regular basis.

What is your view on re-branding? Have you made any recent re-brandings? Do you plan to resort to this approach in the future?

The simple answer is no. The term rebrand isn’t something we recognise. The main asset of Aman is our brand and everything we do has to protect it.

We are very protective of our brand and will do all we can to safeguard it. When you embrace it and truly believe in it, it is easier to do things with your heart rather than doing things repeatedly for the sake of it.

If you were to summarize the AMAN DNA, in a few words, how would you define it?

The Aman philosophy can be defined in many ways, but to me it’s DNA comprises elements of space, elegance, design and intimacy – and most of all provided with genuine and personable service.