Business Class

One&Only Resorts Continues to Evolve the Concept of Ultra-Luxury

Situated at the edge of the Baja Peninsula, the One&Only Palmilla resort has been long known as one of the world’s most exclusive ultra-luxury resorts.

Originally built in 1956 as a 15-room luxury hideaway, it officially became One&Only Palmilla in 2004, following a $90 million refurbishment. More recently, after an extensive rebirth in 2014, One&Only Palmilla reopened again, welcoming guests back to a destination that was better than ever with a number of new offerings.

It was a private event in celebration of One&Only Palmilla that brought us face-to-face with Philippe Zuber, the President and Chief Operating Officer of One&Only Resorts. In this role, Zuber leads the strategic development of the One&Only brand, while focusing on the guest experience across the collection with further growth of the One&Only team.

Created exclusively for the ultra-luxury market, One&Only was originally conceived as a hallmark of excellence. Set in some of the most beautiful locales in the world, each award-winning resort offers guests a distinctive style and personality borne of its local culture, a genuine hospitality and a lively energy that is unrivaled.

“We are extremely proud in saying we’re very courageous in our approach. When the masses are going this way, we’re going that way,” Zuber tells us. “We have an approach which is very, very special to our business. We really want to be very unique. It’s in the name itself: One&Only. With any new project we have in our pipeline, we’re always starting with a white page.”

To that end, Zuber reveals the first thing One&Only aims to do is create the story. This is key and he claims it gives way to the emotional experiences that come afterwards. Also, he clarifies that you don’t have to invent these experiences. That they are part of the respective destination. That they’ve subsequently been put at the core and that any people that work on these projects carry this story around.

“When you have the wellness, when you have the food and beverage, when you have the architecture, when you have the experiences, when you have the curation and when you have the fashion,” Zuber remarks, “everything goes around that story. You have a very harmonious approach.”

Take the upcoming One&Only Mandarina, a new $1 billion luxury residential and hotel resort in Mexico’s coastal jungle. Located in Riviera Nayarit, north of Puerto Vallarta, the development will nestle in breathtaking surrounds, blending the best of tropical beach living, chic resort spaces and adventure in the midst of lush green wilderness. It will offer 108 luxurious guest rooms and villas, as well as 55 One&Only Private Homes, all placing an emphasis on privacy and beautiful vistas.

Zuber considers Mandarina a true One&Only, since nobody will expect to have a hotel on that location, or the beautiful design or unique setting or activities surrounding it. “This part of this world has not experienced something so spectacular in a beach resort. It will be on the top of the bucket list for whoever wants to really experience something special.”

Likewise, One&Only One Za’abeel is due to open in Dubai in 2020. It marks the introduction and launch of One&Only Urban Resorts, which will retain the glamour and style of the brand’s acclaimed Beach Resorts, offering intuitive design, incredible culinary experiences, a strong health and fitness ethos, plus the renowned service that One&Only is known for. However, it also intends to go beyond and provide something that has never been seen before within cities.

Though they’re tapping different segments, the concept of ultra-luxury is still fundamental to everything One&Only does. They are not confining their approach to ultra-luxury simply to the hospitality world, either. In fact, they are looking far beyond it.

“We’re very much into art. We’re very much into wellness. We’re very much into food and beverage. We’re very much into experiences and activities,” Zuber elaborates. “But when I define luxury and what’s making us so different, it’s our approach to service. And the luxury there is the fact that we are able to develop a relationship with our team and our guests, which is part of a family environment.”

Zuber affirms that One&Only always positions the customer as the centre of attention. He stresses how important that element is. “We spend a lot of time with them. We engage with them. They want to have this personalization and this relationship with us, with our team, with our staff members and with our general managers. It’s extremely sophisticated in the way that it’s delivered, but not complex.”

According to Zuber, despite One&Only’s premium cost, you can’t put a price on this. That it boils down to empathy, humility, professionalism and attention to detail. That One&Only’s team will adjust to your pace. And as far as he’s concerned, that’s the clear difference between One&Only and anyone else in the ultra-luxury space.

Moreover, what remains really amazing for Zuber is that any of One&Only’s guests could be categorized as the brand’s best sales agents. He reckons they are outperforming any of the brand’s commercials or marketing platforms because of the passionate way they talk about the resorts.

“To be very sincere, I have seen people really crying when they talk about their vacation,” Zuber confides. “How many places can create that kind of emotion? They’re not sad memories. They’re pleasure memories. They say they went with their families and had wonderful times. It’s all of those moments they are talking about. We have an amazing ratio of returning guests. They’re coming and coming and coming and coming.”

For One&Only, that’s maybe the truest sign of success.

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