TD Conversations: Peter J. Bates in conversation with Philippe Zuber, CEO, Kerzner International

Armed with new post-pandemic insights, Philippe Zuber continues to spearhead the ambitious expansion plans of the ultra-luxurious Atlantis Resort & Residences and One&Only Resorts brands across the globe. In a chat with Traveldine, he shares his journey of building a successful hospitality brand that puts both employees and guests at the forefront, plus a sneak peek into the spectacular Atlantis The Royal, set to open in Dubai later this year. 

After a successful career with the Hyatt, across Europe, Morocco and Asia, Philippe Zuber began the next leg of his adventure in 2011 in the Middle East. Over the past ten years, he has risen from regional general manager to CEO of Kernzer International, the parent company behind the iconic, uber luxurious global hospitality brands, Atlantis Resort & Residences and One&Only Resorts.

As he spearheads Kerzner International’s strategic expansion plans across the globe, Zuber observes that the Covid pandemic has been a “reset” for the hospitality industry. “It has obligated all of us to integrate digital at a much faster pace,” he says. “The second big learning is that guests will continue to travel and engage with our brands no matter what. The appetite for travel is stronger than the risk and stress. That being said, they’re becoming extremely selective about where they’re going. They’re making sure to go to resorts that offer a lot of opportunities to be entertained and the main thing is that the access to the resort should be simple. A major shift we found was guests are going for resorts with a larger inventory but also privacy. We’ve been seeing that our bigger villas go first,” he adds.

The One&Only Resorts brand has an expansive global footprint, which stretches from Northern Valley in Australia to the Maldives; Sanya in China to Montenegro in Eastern Europe; and Rwanda and Cape Town in Africa. At the heart of the brand is a “human-centric” focus, asserts Zuber. “Our colleagues are the most important asset to our organisation. Being able to bring them around a common philosophy was very important. It’s creating a culture and dynamic that’s helping us to grow. Everyone in our organisation can contribute by leading so that others can follow.”

Expansion plans are full-steam ahead, Zuber tells Peter J. Bates, President, Strategic Vision. The brand is currently focusing on two new projects in Dubai. Envisioned as an experiential destination, Atlantis The Royal is expected to open by the end of 2021 with 800 keys, 2030 private residences; the massive Aquaventure water park; a private beach; and 35 restaurants, ten of which will be helmed by celebrity chefs such as Heston Blumenthal, Jose Andres and Ariana Bundy. “Atlantis the Palm has helped to identify Dubai and an iconic destination. Atlantis the Royal will take us to the next level!” he says. 

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