John Rogers on delivering exceptional guest experiences at newly opened LUX* North Male Atoll
It’s been said that good things come to those who wait. The notion might be a fallacy for some, but it certainly is true in this case! After a wait that took longer than expected, LUX* North Male Atoll has finally begun welcoming guests to its shores. And with that, the resort’s oversized penthouse architecture and easygoing South Beach ambience have brought a new level of luxury to the Maldives hotel scene.
At the helm of this ground-breaking opening is seasoned hotelier John Rogers, who has held roles as general manager at several award-winning luxury resorts, including eight years at La Residencia in Mallorca. Before joining the pre-opening team at LUX* North Male Atoll in October 2018 as its general manager, John oversaw all operations of the Carlisle Bay resort in Antigua and Barbuda.
Drawing on more than 30 years of experience in managing award-winning properties around the world, British-born John brings an impressive background in pre-opening, planning as well as luxury resort operations to Mauritius-based LUX* Hotels & Resorts’ second resort in the Maldives. His wealth of knowledge in five-star resort hospitality is set to ensure the continued success of LUX* Hotels & Resorts and its dedicated commitment to ensure fresh, creative and exceptional experiences in different locales around the world, with LUX* North Male Atoll now out with the promise of next level ‘Lighter, Brighter’ and extraordinary stay.
Maldives Insider sits with John as he takes charge of the mould-breaking new resort.
Maldives Insider: What interested you to pursue a career in hospitality and tourism?
John Rogers: I have always dreamt of an international career. My father was in the navy, so when I was growing up, we moved every couple of years and I loved meeting new people and exploring new cultures. So, the hotel business was a natural fit for me.
MI: How would you describe your past experiences in the hospitality industry?
JR: I have worked in 17 different countries; from Hong Kong and Bali in Asia to Vancouver in North America, Zanzibar in Africa, and Antigua and Barbuda in the Caribbean. In the beginning it was mainly big cities, but after sometime I preferred resort environments and the tropical climate. I love looking after guests, motivating a team and the incredible buzz of the industry.
Those experiences were very enjoyable. I have always been very passionate about what I do, and I enjoyed working with diverse groups of people and learning from them. Looking back at my life, I can feel that I have had amazing experiences in everywhere I had worked at.
MI: Can you tell us your first impressions of the Maldives?
JR: When I was based in Colombo, I came to the Maldives on holiday in 1997. It was over 20 years ago, back when Male didn’t have tall buildings and the airport was very basic. I stayed in a resort in the southern part of the country. I could tell even then that it was a unique country. I absolutely fell in love with the incredible blues, the pure paradisiacal islands, and most importantly the people and their culture and heritage.
After 20 years, I’m back in the Maldives. Progress happens everywhere and the Maldives is no different. The airport is much more developed, and Male is crowded with taller and taller buildings. There are many new hotels opening up. But the people and their hospitality remains the same.
MI: How would you describe the experience of setting up and opening a brand-new resort in the Maldives? What are the challenges and the opportunities?
JR: Setting up a resort in a secluded is never easy, but LUX* being a well-established operator and my vast experience in opening hotels go a long way in making sure everything is as it should be. The biggest challenge in the Maldives is logistics. It’s not like you can run down to a shop and grab something you need urgently. There’s a lot of planning involved to make sure things get done on time and the right people are recruited trained well before the opening. Apart from that, it’s being good fun.
I think we are in a very good position. In fact, we have been very busy. Right after our opening in February, we had the Chinese New Year, so we had a lot of Chinese guests for the first two weeks. That was a good thing for the hotel and the staff as our team members were busy from day one and had the chance to fine tune the details. That has continued.
MI: What sets LUX* North Male Atoll apart from the others in the same market segment?
JR: We are a smaller hotel, so there’s that boutique feel. We are also luxurious, with bigger rooms and more facilities and services. The architectural design aspects that you see here are very unique, even for the Maldives. Our over-sized penthouse residences come with a private rooftop terrace which sets us apart from the others by offering extra customisable space for our guests.
But the most important aspect of our USPs is our focus on creating unique experiences for our guests. We are incredibly lucky to be part of LUX*, which gives a strong emphasis on delivering unique experiences to the guests. At LUX* North Male Atoll, we offer several signature experiences such as Cinema Paradiso at your rooftop terrace and special snorkelling sessions our house reef which is a rare combination of reef and caves. The combination of long stretches of powder soft white sand beach and a house reef just off the island is unique too; not many resorts have that.
MI: What’s being done to build upon the successful launch of LUX* North Male Atoll?
JR: We had a very successful opening event, ‘First on the Island, where we invited travel partners, media and influencers from all around the world for a first-hand experience of our resort. The event helped put us on the map and build a strong social media presence for us, thanks to our active sales and marketing as well as PR team.
The next big chapter of LUX North Male Atoll is the completion and introduction of our three-bedroom Beach Retreat and Over Water Retreat. Each of the two residences is more than 970 sqm, including over 380 sqm of open plan indoor living. The opulence and attention to detail of the design are unparalleled, the interiors feature Grecian marble, stones from India and furniture from Bali. With the design and architecture subtly inspired by the free-spirit of the super yacht, you can dock your own private yacht at the Over Water Retreat.
MI: What are your thoughts about the changing travel trends and the changes in the Maldives tourism industry?
JR: Every international hotel company wants to have their hotel in the Maldives which is a testament to the allure of this destination and its importance in the global travel and tourism industry. There are many new openings this year and the coming few years as well, so competition is obviously high. I believe competition itself if a great motivating factor in any business and hotel business is no exception. Maldives has over the years redefined luxury travel at a global scale, and the competition we have today has already helped us take it to next level. It’s leading to incredible innovations; astronomical towers, underwater restaurants and rooms, you name it!
A lot of travellers want to try out new hotels and new experiences. I think that’s why LUX* North Male Atoll is a fine example of how competition leads to innovation. We have developed a unique concept with our white-washed, double-storey penthouses which has brought fresh forward-thinking design for the Indian Ocean. Our bespoke experiences and unique offerings are the product of our innovative spirit and our effort to enhance guest experience. The creative culture built amongst our team helps us realise this goal.
MI: How would you describe your experience in the Maldives so far?
JR: It’s been an enjoyable experience. I’m lucky to work with people from different countries and meet with guests from different corners of the world who share amazing stories. The natural beauty of the island and the magical LUX* moments we are creating everyday to help our guests make their dreams come true make it a rewarding experience as well.