At the Helm of Spanish Beachfront Luxury in Vietnam

Spanish-born Manuel Ferriol, the general manager of the new five-star Meliá Ho Tram Beach Resort, talks with us about what attracted him to Vietnam, why he’s been with Meliá Hotels International for 15 years, what’s so special about the only Spanish five-star beachfront resort in Vietnam’s south and why Vietnam has so much promise.

1) With substantial hospitality experience in Europe, what brought you to Vietnam and how has your time here treated you?

I always wanted to live and work abroad and a career in hospitality is the ticket to not only see the world but truly immerse yourself in it. After developing my hospitality career in Spain and becoming a resident manager, Meliá Hotels International offered me a number of options to take my career to the next level, including a terrific opportunity as director of operations at Meliá Hanoi, the Spanish group’s flagship hotel in Vietnam and recognized as one of the most luxurious MICE and events hotels in Asia. When I arrived in Vietnam in 2014, I immediately felt I had made the right decision and have never looked back.

After two years at Meliá Hanoi, I then became Meliá Danang’s general manager. My success in establishing the then-newly opened Meliá Danang, combined with my experience managing leisure and business hotels in Vietnam, resulted in my appointment as the new Meliá Ho Tram Beach Resort’s general manager. Vietnam is the land of opportunity on so many fronts, particularly the luxury hospitality industry. It’s so rewarding to be here during Vietnam’s phenomenal rise as the Asia-Pacific’s fastest growing country in terms of tourism.

The best thing about Vietnam is its people. The Vietnamese are welcoming and hardworking, and have been integral to the success of our operations and service due to their diligence and innate, genuine warmth.

 

2) You have been with Meliá Hotel Group for 15 years, an impressive track record.  What is so special about working with the Spanish company and why have you worked with them for so long?   

Meliá Hotels International is a significant part of me after so long. When I first started out in hospitality, I worked with another international company for one year before deciding to move to Meliá Hotels International; not only due to it being the number one Spanish hotel company but also because it’s family-grown and family-run, and offered me exciting career and development opportunities right from the start.

As Meliá Hotels International has a total of seven brands that speak to difference audience segments, career opportunities are boundless. The group rewards talent and dedication with excellent opportunities to grow and surge into the future, professionally and personally. I joined Meliá’s internal management program and I’ve given my absolute best to Meliá. In return the group has definitely given its best back to me, helping me to learn, to develop, challenge and improve myself and has guided me during each and every step of my 15-year career with the group hitherto. I have a strong sense of belonging to a family and this is reinforced every day by my interactions with my fellow colleagues and Meliá Hotels International’s management.

I know many hospitality groups speak about a passion for service but Meliá Hotels International really delivers on this with Spanish warmth and hospitality that none of our competitors can match in a more modern, younger and fresher image. The group is also far-sighted when it comes to corporate social responsibility and its sustainable development goals related to areas such as removing all single-use plastics, and reducing water use and carbon dioxide emissions. So much so we have been ranked as the third most sustainable hotel company worldwide for 2018 by RobecoSAM, a sustainable investment agency responsible for evaluating companies for the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.

3) Can you tell us more about Meliá Ho Tram Beach Resort?  Why should we head to Ho Tram and stay at your resort?

The resort is already deemed one of the most prestigious of the Meliá Hotels and Resorts portfolio globally and we aim to establish it as the top resort in Vietnam’s south as well as one of renown in Vietnam and the Asia Pacific. Our 17-hectare resort celebrated its grand opening on April 20 this year, cutting the ribbon on a host of world-class facilities such as three restaurants including a beach club, three swimming pools, a swim-up bar, a coffee shop, a 10-treatment room spa, an executive lounge, a ballroom and conference facilities, a kid’s club, gymnasium, gift shop and more.

All of our 152 rooms and suites face the ocean and afford panoramic views of Ho Tram beach. The 62 villas are mind blowing, ranging in size from 220sqm to 465sqm with no expense spared. The villas have their own private pools, BBQ areas, outdoor showers and gardens, living areas and separate dining areas. Four distinct food and beverage outlets – Breeza Beach Club, Muoi, Sasa and Elyxr café – and a swim-up bar make for a diverse culinary landscape luring casual and fine diners alike. Destined to be “the place to be” in Ho Tram and referencing the beach clubs of Ibiza and Bali, Breeza is situated right on the beach and will host live music, DJ sets, themed parties, and fire and dancing shows.

Ho Tram is fast developing a reputation as Ho Chi Minh City’s answer to New York’s Hamptons, Rome’s Sorrento and Sydney’s Blue Mountains; a go-to retreat where the well-heeled flock for a getaway that’s close by, upscale and restorative. With 500m of ocean frontage, this tropical setting is all the more spectacular as the sun rises to the left and goes down to the right in an incredible arc over the East Sea each day. We can’t wait to welcome you to our sublime piece of paradise.

4) Meliá Hotels International is significantly investing in Vietnam and the Asia Pacific. Why has the group set its sights on Vietnam?

Meliá Ho Tram Beach Resort heralds a new era for Meliá Hotels International as the first property to open in southern Vietnam under the Meliá Hotels and Resorts brand and the fourth for Vietnam. Meliá Ho TramBeach Resort joins Meliá Hanoi, Meliá Danang and Meliá Ba Vi Mountain Retreat as part of the group’s burgeoning portfolio. Plans call for Meliá Cam Ranh Bay, Meliá Ninh Binh and Meliá Saigon Central to open in 2020.

Meliá has grown particularly quickly in Vietnam, where it already had 13 hotels either open or in the pipeline, making it one of the leading international hotel companies in the country. In response to the “bleisure” (business and leisure) travel trend, Meliá Hotels International is particularly focused on the Asia Pacific’s emerging economic zones and key MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, events) destinations, with 75% of our hotels catering to the bleisure market in this region.Meliá Ho Tram Beach Resort is situated in a coastal enclave only a two-hour drive from Vietnam’s economic capital Ho Chi Minh City, offering MICE planners and delegates a reinvigorating ocean-side location with ample space and cutting-edge technology.

 

Upstairs, above our lobby and foyer, the 420sqm ballroom hosts up to 400 people for a cocktail reception and 270 for a banquet with lively themes ranging from Mediterranean and Spanish to Indochine.  An adjacent sprawling terrace with a panoramic vista of the resort and the beach provides a picturesque spot for gala dinners. The ballroom can also be divided into three smaller meeting and function rooms.   

 

Meanwhile, domestic tourists are increasingly traveling to the host of beautiful destinations on their home turf. The numbers of international tourists flocking to Vietnam increase year after year. According to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), for 2018, the country welcomed 15.5 million visitors, a 20 percent spike on 2017.

The fact that so much is happening in Vietnam is all the more impressive in light of just how quickly things have progressed here. Vietnam has enjoyed the world’s second-fastest growth rate in GDP per person since 1990, and no doubt tourism has played a role in this positive trajectory. Despite its skyrocketing growth, we believe Vietnam is not an oversaturated market whose most exciting days are yet to come.  

 

Photos courtesy of Meliá Ho Tram Beach Resort

The world’s most respected boutique luxury cruise line — Aqua Expeditions — is set to enter the coastal cruise market in the fall of 2019, after operating as an Amazon and Mekong River cruise line for the past 12 years. A month ago, Aqua Expeditions finalized the purchase of a long-range, 200-foot explorer yacht originally built for Britain’s Royal Navy. The vessel is now undergoing a complete refurbishment designed, transforming into an ultra-modern luxury expedition cruise ship catering to affluent explorers.

Scheduled to begin full operations in November 2019, the explorer class vessel will serve three new destinations with year-round departures. The full announcement on vessel name, facts, destinations and itinerary details will be released globally on May 8.

The May 8th announcement will also unveil a brand-new, state-of-the-art, luxury river cruise vessel to consolidate Aqua Expeditions’ position as one of the leaders in the river-cruise market. Once this and the recently purchased expedition vessel are in operation, Aqua Expeditions will have doubled its fleet from two to four vessels by mid-2020.

“Even as we grow, as an owner, I remain deeply involved in every aspect of the new vessels – from the minutiae of the design details to the intricacies of the itineraries — just as we did when we started out in 2007,” says CEO Francesco Galli Zugaro. “As with all Aqua Expeditions vessels, we are partnering both with renowned designers and critically acclaimed chefs to provide a world-class experience.”

The fleet expansion and geographic diversification underscore Aqua Expeditions’ long-time dedication to providing highly personalized luxury travel experiences, immersive excursions into the wildlife and culture of each region. Guests will enjoy world-class cuisine and dining experiences by renowned chefs. Highly tailored guest services and itineraries on the designer ships with elegant and contemporary aesthetics demonstrate Aqua Expeditions’ commitment to community, sustainability and preservation. “The new ships and destinations we will reveal next month are certain to intrigue the sophisticated traveler,” Galli Zugaro adds.

Photos courtesy of Aqua Expeditions.

Inspired by the silhouette of a tulip, Turkey’s official flower, a 70-story architectural masterpiece will soon grace the Miami skyline with dynamic living and hospitality experiences within a multi-purpose tower, delivering sophistication, convenience and the finest fusion of brands.

Okan Group — one of Turkey’s leading companies and a significant developer — has announced the official sales launch of its first U.S. development in Downtown Miami’s urban core:  Okan Tower. Uniting a diverse collection of mixed-use elements in one vertical destination, the project will present a 316-key hotel by Hilton Hotels & Resorts, 64,000 square feet of ‘Class A’ office space, 236 additional condo-hotel units starting on the 36th floor, and 149 condominium residences, plus 4 penthouses, starting on the 51st floor.

Located at 555 North Miami Avenue, Okan Tower will bring a new, defining form to the city’s iconic horizon. Exclusive sales and marketing for the development is by ONE Sotheby’s International Realty.

“We are thrilled to be launching sales for this much anticipated new development. The reputation and prestige synonymous with the Okan brand, paired with the company’s financial strength, communicates great confidence in the market,” says Daniel de la Vega, President of ONE Sotheby’s International Realty. “Okan Tower’s team of power players and overall vision affords this project a unique edge in Miami’s real estate landscape, and we are proud to be part of this venture.” 

Billionaire businessman and Okan Group Chairman Bekir Okan greatly credits Miami’s vibrant energy and international fusion in his decision to name the city for the tower’s location. In between travels around the globe, Mr. Okan frequents his South Florida residence, which furthers his desire to allow the company’s roots to bloom in the Magic City, tied closely with the Hilton Hotels & Resorts name.

Considering the global footprints of Okan Group, Hilton Hotels & Resorts and Sotheby’s International Realty, Okan Tower’s world appeal will take its sales team across continents to showcase the product, including the U.S., Turkey, Latin America, Europe, and Asia. According to Miami Association

of Realtors’ latest South Florida International Real Estate Report, South Florida continues to strongly draw foreign buyers, who purchased $7.1 billion of area residential properties in 2017 – up from $6.2 billion the year prior – and accounted for 35 percent of closed sales.

Paying tribute to the Turkish culture, architect firm Behar Font & Partners was appointed to design Okan Tower and the striking curvature of its façade. Anticipated to attract international investors, the project’s condo-hotel units will be delivered turn-key within studios, and one and two bedrooms, from 447 to 1,245 square feet. Residential offerings will include condominiums ranging from one-to-three bedrooms, plus a den, with floor plans from 698 to more than 2,071 square feet. Two floors of duplex-style penthouses will feature expansive layouts, from 1,873 to more than 2,142 square feet.

World-class amenities will not be spared, with Okan Group carefully curating a menu of offerings that truly matter to the target demographic. This includes high-speed elevators with separate access points for the various mixed-use components, a sky pool with panoramic views of the bay and city on the 70th floor, Hammam spa, state-of-the-art health and fitness center, multipurpose room, and outdoor lounge. Additional features will be a playroom for kids, chef and gastro kitchen, a resident movie theater, and private area for owners with wine cellar and cigar room, as well as an activated rooftop restaurant on the 67th floor.

Okan Group brings to Miami nearly five decades of experience and a long-established reputation in Turkey and other parts of the world. The company has expertise in a variety of industries, including construction, tourism, education, health, and hospitality.

Photos courtesy of Okan Tower.

Timbers Resorts, the leading developer and operator of luxury boutique properties around the globe, recently announced the opening of the highly anticipated Timbers Kiawah – Ocean Club & Residences, the first new residential development on Kiawah Island’s oceanfront in over 30 years.

Made up of 21 thoughtfully designed residences across three oceanfront buildings, the new development is the first and only residence club on Kiawah Island, offering buyers a completely new way to approach home ownership on the sought-after island.  

“Timbers Kiawah is the front row seat to the best beach on the Eastern Seaboard,” says David Burden, Executive Chairman and Founder of Timbers Resorts. “Developed with families in mind, we believe it provides the ideal setting for generations – it captures the spirit of the Lowcountry and showcases the ultimate in oceanfront living. We are excited to be a part of the tight-knit community of Kiawah and we look forward to welcoming all of our new owners to the Timbers family.”

Featuring coastal interiors by J. Banks Design and architecture by Poss Architecture + Planning, Timbers Kiawah – Ocean Club & Residences features resort-like amenities including a private clubhouse with a central lounge area, temperature-controlled owners’ wine storage, private bar and state-of-the art fitness facility. Also available exclusively to Timbers residents and their guests is a private beach club with an oceanfront pool and beach services, as well as an array of family and children’s programming.

“The Timbers Kiawah experience is unlike any other in the Lowcountry,” says Greg Spencer, CEO of Timbers Resorts. “We curated a team of the most talented professionals to provide a fresh and exclusive experience on Kiawah Island. From the interiors to the roster of activities, we work diligently to provide a carefree setting for owners to relax and enjoy what Kiawah has to offer.”

With sales on track for sell-out, Timbers Kiawah’s sales success proves the continued strength of Timbers Resorts’ fractional ownership model. The Timbers concept affords owners a hassle-free owning experience—both on and off the island—by providing year-round onsite management as well as pre-arrival provisioning, on-island concierge services, owner storage, valet parking and daily housekeeping.

Currently for sale, Timbers Kiawah residences are housed in three separate buildings connected by the property’s exclusive beach club and pool deck. Each home features panoramic views of the ocean and spacious interiors fit for families. Recognized as some of the most prized real estate on Kiawah Island the 18 three-bedroom homes total over 2,200 sq. ft. each, while the development’s marquee listings—its three four-bedroom penthouses—boast over 3,600 sq. ft. of interior space. All residences feature floor-to-ceiling windows, expansive outdoor terraces and a host of high-quality finishes and furnishings – most of which were custom crafted by J. Banks Design, an international firm recognized by Interior Design as among the best in hospitality design.

Timbers Kiawah also features a clubhouse and lounge, owner services team, temperature-controlled wine storage, kids play room and a state-of-the-art fitness facility. Here, residents can send postcards custom designed by Charleston artist Rick Sargent to their families and friends; request any service ranging from meal delivery to babysitting; and book dining reservations and daytime excursions. Upon purchasing a residence, Timbers Kiawah will commission a caricature portrait of the family, which will hang in the clubhouse’s main room.

Timbers Kiawah provides owners with private access to a dedicated set of luxury amenities and personalized services. The heart of the resort is the beach club, where the oceanfront pool, residents-only restaurant and beach services are all located.

Throughout the property, Timbers Kiawah only uses bamboo cutlery and straws to help protect Kiawah Island’s threatened sea turtles. Conservation is a large part of the company’s DNA, and new programs dedicated to this cause will continue rolling out throughout the next year.

Photos courtesy of Timbers Kiawah.

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