Last minute travel is the key trend for this quarter: Stephane Laguette

Maldives is relatively isolated in the Indian Ocean with the unique ‘one island, one resort’ concept. Thus, making it an exceptionally low risk place for the spread of COVID 19. In an interview, Stephane Laguette, Chief Commercial Officer, Atmosphere Hotels and Resorts, Maldives shares more about the resort has been faring in recent times.

Kindly tell us a bit about the brand Atmosphere Hotels and Resorts, Maldives.

Atmosphere Hotels and Resorts is a dynamic and fast-growing ‘Indian Ocean Hospitality Brand’ with extensive resort development and management experience. Set in some of the most beautiful Maldivian islands, our group operates six best in class resorts ranging from Luxury to Classic properties in two sub-brands, White Label Set by Atmosphere and The Selection of OBLU by Atmosphere. Adding to this, we also have our uber lux brand, THE OZEN COLLECTION. OZEN resorts offer ultimate privacy blended with signature luxury aesthetics, for blissfully immersive holidays in pristine, Indian Ocean locations.

Renowned for our impeccable service and world-class dining experiences, we offer guest-centric holiday experiences through first-of-its-kind resort plans inspired by our brand’s core philosophy of the ‘Joy of Giving’. From elegantly designed beach villas and overwater villas to a range of all-encompassing experiences – guests enjoy a truly relaxing and carefree holiday at each resort, elevated by warm and personalised hospitality.

Background: Atmosphere’s first property, Atmosphere Kanifushi, opened its doors in December 2013. Followed by three resorts OBLU by Atmosphere at Helengeli, OBLU SELECT at Sangeli, and the newest addition, VARU by Atmosphere in 2019. 

Further, OZEN MAADHOO was the first resort under the OZEN COLLECTION opened in July 2016. OZEN’s success story continues in the Maldives with the addition of OZEN RESERVE BOLIFUSHI, set to open on 20th November 2020. OZEN TANGALLE takes the brand to the south coast of Sri Lanka and is scheduled to be launched in 2023. 

The expansion continues with OBLU XPRience Loabigili and OBLU SELECT Loabigili - set to open in the Malé Atoll in the summer of 2021. OBLU SELECT at Tangalle, scheduled to open in 2023, will take the brand to the south coast of Sri Lanka.


What has the impact of the lockdown been on your resorts?

As for the most part of the world, Maldives too was under complete lockdown till 15th July 2020. The hospitality industry among the many other things had come to a standstill. About the impact on our resorts, unlike other destinations, Maldives is relatively isolated in the Indian Ocean with the unique ‘one island, one resort’ concept. Thus, making it an exceptionally low risk place for the spread of COVID 19. This explains that since the country had opened its doors after July 15, we had seen an almost immediate uptake in bookings for the rest of the year. Added to this, the several measures taken by the government and the resorts have helped in creating strong reassurance for the hospitality market.

Currently, we are witnessing a positive interest from the Indian market since the government has made an air bubble and added that it is two and half hours away; there seems to be pent up demand for the properties over the coming months.

Going forward, what is going to be your sales and marketing strategy to grow business for the brand and hotel especially for the Indian tourists?

We have initiated an increase in sales actions, accelerated meetings and our connections with all our partners in India. Further, we are highlighting our visibility through media and advertising and have resumed all the sales and marketing tools which have been on hold for months now. We have also launched a special pricing concept by adding transportation and spa into our unique PLAN element and are further developing the “one stop shop” concept where you pay only once!

What are the current lines of communication and distribution for the hotel?

As mentioned earlier, media, advertising and consistent communication with all our partners within India are our current lines of communication.

With Outbound from India, next to nil what do you think is the traveller's outbound scenario from the Indian market post COVID?

India is one of the important markets for the Maldives, and with the economic unlock phase across the country, efforts are being made to restart travel between the two countries. In August, an air travel bubble between India and Maldives was announced by India’s External Affairs Minister and the Foreign Minister of Maldives. This is the first such arrangement in South Asia and will lead to increased traction from target markets including Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, New Delhi & NCR.

Following this announcement, airlines are also exploring viable options. In mid-October Indigo airlines too started flights to Male. The direct flight connectivity from Mumbai with Indigo was crucial for us. We believe that it would re-open tourism doors from Western India. Also, GO Air have also started their flights to Maldives. At the moment, the unique concept of ‘one island, one resort’ is garnering significant demand for Maldives amidst Indian travellers that are seeking international out-bound travel.

What are the upcoming trends that the travel market will see in the last quarter?

Last minute travel is the key trend for this quarter, and we have ensured flexibility for payments and have looked into our cancelling policies to respond to this last minute trend. The demand from India is massive; we are getting an average of 50 reservations per day in the last few days.

Considering the coronavirus pandemic what remain the global challenges for hospitality?

It is imperative that we adapt ourselves with the changing trends, re-invest ourselves and not take anything for granted. In addition to these, we have also developed extensive measures for the safety of our team members and guests. The stringent safety precautions for our team first and then our guests will help us keep the resort safe.


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