Q. What were the main reasons behind the recent refreshment of the brand and do you feel you've accomplished what you set out to achieve?
A. It's a refocus of the brand that used to be perceived as Aman Resorts, but since we have opened a city hotel the term "resorts" doesn't adequately reflect our growth. We started with the resorts and we are known as the brand to be seen on the resorts scene. However, last year, we opened our first vertical hotel in Tokyo, therefore we don't just want to be associated with the resorts and that's why we have redesigned the logo to make it more simple, classy, elegant and discreet because that's the DNA of the brand.
Q. The brand has its 'Aman junkies' who we're told refuse to holiday anywhere else. What do you believe inspires such devotion to the brand?
A. I think what they like is the difference between a good hotel and an excellent hotel - it's the service, it's the people, it's to be more personalised in your approach and I think you can do it when you have just a 40-room hotel much more easily than when you have a 300-room hotel. We are small and we want to remain small; we don't want to be more than a hundred rooms because with more than that I think you are going to lose the soul of the service. It's also because we are simple in terms of the design and the space, [and we offer] personalised service.
Q. As a brand that has famously eschewed advertising and promotion in the past, how has Aman embraced the modern obsession with social media?
A. We are counting on word of mouth to spread news of the brand. Right now it's a happy few who know about it and we don't want to be seen everywhere. That said, we need to be modern and so we do have a presence on social media. It's just a small presence for our junkies to share with their friends and their communities, but we are not proactively pushing them to do so because we are in the top end of the market and the commercial aspect is more a problem for us than an opportunity. Our customers don't want to be seen, they just want to have privacy and that's their priority.
Q. Aman has low-occupancy of around 30 to 40 per cent. Are you keen to increase occupancy levels and do you think you can increase occupancy without damaging the brand's reputation for offering exclusivity and privacy?
A. We have to be careful about only concentrating on occupancy rate; it's one of the ratios to measure the profitability of a hotel, but it's not the only one. Having said that we can do better on occupancy, but our brand is affiliated to a rate and we don't want to enter into a price war because it will definitely affect our brand equity. Our core business is also to sell real estate. Aman is like a golf course - you don't make a lot of return on the golf course, but you start making some interesting return when you set the villas around the golf course. So our objective is to keep the hotel at the highest standard possible and then we can sell the real estate off the back of our brand reputation.
Q. How do you aim to win the business of younger generations?
A. It's the challenge for all brands at the moment and it's our challenge. I believe we are doing a good job of reaching what people call the millennials because what those people are looking for is content. Don't lie to them - they are aware and they can check everything online. When they are travelling they will do research. How are you treating your employees? Are you taking care of the environment?
All these things we are doing but we're not communicating them because, once again, we don't want to be seen as too commercial. We do believe that we have the right product for younger generations, we just need to create a little bit more brand awareness.
Q. What are you most proud of in recent years?
A. For me it's been about trying to keep the brand discreet and not to jump into some trap, like you can see with the online travel agents or tour operators. I'm proud that I've been able to keep control of the brand and believe in what we're doing while not listening to what other people say about all these opportunities on the internet. I'm also proud of the team at Aman because they have been very stable for many years and that's where the magic is, it's with them, and they bring great experiences to our guests.