Dubai-owned One&Only shifts focus from beach to nature


The ultra-luxury brand, which has two highly popular beach resorts in Dubai, revealed during the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai this week that it is moving inland and creating two nature resorts in Rwanda as it expands on its success with a resort in Australia’s Blue Mountains.

“Our clientele are looking for a different types of experiences and locations; they love coming back to our beautiful beach resorts … but they need – for their families and themselves – to experience something new,” CEO and president Philippe Zuber said.

The locations of the new resorts – in the Rwandan jungle and in Nyungwe Forest National Park – were “absolutely amazing”, he said.

One&Only Gorilla’s Nest, located near the village of Kingi, on the foothills of the Virunga Volcano range, was already owned by Investment Corporation of Dubai, a government investment firm, which bought a “significant” share in One&Only’s founding company Kerzner International in 2014.

The area is home to about one-third of the only 780 mountain gorillas that still exist.

“It’s exactly at the site where there’s a ceremony to name all the baby gorillas, so we’re at a site that has a lot of history,” Zuber said.

The jungle resort is due to open at the end of 2018, while One&Only Nyungwe House is due to open at the end of this year.

It is One&Only’s first foray into Africa and Zuber said he was confident travellers – especially existing One&Only guests – would choose the resorts for their dramatic locations.

“As a One&Only [we said] let’s challenge ourselves, let’s not go to the big one, the Big 5, safari-type . This market is already well taken,” Zuber said.

“Our true authenticity of nature is the rarity of the site and absolute uniqueness of the site.”

The Rwandan government has made a concerted effort to attract tourism investment to the country, which is now viewed as one of the safest and among the most transparent for doing business in Africa. Zuber said Rwanda was “under full reconstruction” and was now “really favourable to international investors”.

One&Only also is continuing to expand in the Gulf, with One&Only Seef, Bahrain, which replicates On&Only The Palm Dubai.

Zuber said the brand’s two Dubai hotels continued to do “extremely well”. The One&Only Royal Mirage is currently renovated some rooms into suites in response to demand from guests.

Kerzner International is also moving into the booming tourism market in China, building The Atlantis Sanya Hainan Island. Announced earlier, it will be among the first wellness-focused accommodation in the country.

“Going to China with such a statement of wellness is unheard of,” Zuber said.

It is expected to attract mostly Chinese guests, as well as expats living in major Asian cities.

Source: Originally published on April 26th 2017.

If you are a new user click here to create an account.