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Five minutes with… Elegant Resorts Middle East GM Anthony Challinor-Cole

Five minutes with… Elegant Resorts Middle East GM Anthony Challinor-Cole

Challinor-Cole discusses the UK luxury travel company’s plans for the region, following its Dubai launch last year

Five minutes with... Elegant Resorts Middle East GM Anthony Challinor-Cole

What made Elegant Resorts launch in the Middle East?

Last year, we were very excited to open up our first office in Dubai to serve the needs of discerning customers in the region. Our motivation for launching here was because we felt there was a niche in the market for providing a luxury travel experience for clients who wish to enjoy the finest holidays available worldwide. Over the last thirty years, from our headquarters in Cheshire, UK, we have built up a fantastic portfolio of some of the most beautiful hotels, villas and resorts in the world, which have been handpicked by our team of travel consultants to deliver a genuinely luxurious experience.

As such, Dubai represented a natural progression, and we are very committed to developing our presence in this region. As a hub for global travel, a strong expat community, coupled with its status as a luxury destination in its own right, Dubai affords us with so many opportunities to cater to the needs of our Arabic and English-speaking Middle Eastern and expat clientele.

To ensure we are supporting the needs of our clients as best as possible, we have also developed a new collection of products tailored specifically to the needs of the Arabic and expat market, which perfectly complements an already fabulous portfolio of the finest hotels and resorts from across the globe. Through our partnerships with major world airlines, we can also ensure that the experience of travelling in premium class – particularly in First and Club Class – complements the luxury accommodation perfectly.

I have also recently relocated from Cheshire to Dubai to head up our offering here – so I’m personally very excited to be living and working in the region. By having a permanent footprint in the area, we will endeavour to expand our strong position in the luxury market by staying true to our roots and providing trustworthy information and services, allowing our clients to truly enjoy their luxury holidays with confidence.

What are the most popular destinations for luxury travellers from the region?

On the short haul side, the Maldives, India and Sri Lanka represent fantastic destinations, which are reachable within a short four to five hour flight from the UAE. Those looking for a long weekend getaway can stay at beautiful locations such as Kerala in India, where the Vivanta By Taj – Malabar provides the opportunity for guests to experience the water ways of Alleppey, and the history of Kochi, all whilst experiencing some of the best, freshest seafood on offer. Naturally Cape Town also represents a great destination to visit all year round – and currently this is even more appealing with the likes of the low rand, meaning guests’ money will go much further than usual.

Skiing trips are also proving popular and Val Thorens in France represents great destination to visit. I’ve just returned from a skiing trip with my family, and the snow is spectacular at the moment. If guests are looking for a stunning place to stay during their skiing trip, I’d recommend The Chedi, Andermatt, which is nestled in the Swiss Alps. It is absolutely beautiful with an outdoor lounge with fires, an indoor lap pool and mountain views.

On a long haul side, we are seeing destinations such as California, Florida and New York being very popular. Many guests are choosing to do a stopover in London first to break up the journey, where they can do some shopping, and then head to the US for their main holiday experience. Places like The Breakers Palm Beach are simply beautiful and provide fantastic options for families, with child-friendly rooms for added safety. For guests looking for added privacy and exclusivity, the newly re-imagined Flagler Club has been transformed into a more intimate ‘hotel-within-a-hotel’. Just twenty-five glamorous rooms welcome guests with top-of-the-line amenities, a private club lounge with panoramic views and distinctive food and beverage offerings.

What are some of the trends you are seeing in luxury travel globally?

Whilst we are all individual when it comes to our holiday preferences, what makes a truly luxurious travel experience in my mind is the commitment to the detail. We are seeing this trend for bespoke, luxury holidays from our Arabic and English-speaking Middle Eastern and expat clientele. Whether clients are looking for a ski and snow holiday, a family break away, or a short haul romantic getaway, for us we find that it’s the personalised experience that is really resonating with clients.

Whether it’s the outstanding boutique Cap Maison in St Lucia, Caribbean or the cool, chic, stylish décor of the W Verbier in Martigny, Geneva, it is the commitment to excellence at every turn that makes the guest’s stay just that little bit more special.

Are you noticing any impact on demand due to low oil prices and weaker regional sentiment?

Whilst it’s certainly challenging times that we operate in, we are remaining positive about the luxury travel market for 2016. We are seeing positive demand and enquiries for both short and long haul holidays, and we are confident that with a constantly evolving offering, and by listening to our clients, we will continue to cater to our clientele’s needs.

Do you have any plans to expand your offering in the GCC or wider region?

We are constantly looking to expand our offering to ensure we can continue to cater to the wants and desires of our guests. At the moment our office footprint in Dubai is providing us with access to the GCC market, which is something we’re very proud of. We’re looking forward to continuing to increase our offering to cater for our discerning guests in the Middle East as we drive forward. We are already looking to begin operations in KSA and grow our offering from there.

Are you hiring?

We are always looking for bright and talented people – we’ve been in the region for almost a year now, so watch this space.

What is your leadership style?

Since moving to Dubai, I’ve been keen to meet and network with as many people as possible to introduce them to Elegant Resorts. My role means that I’m responsible for the delivery of all of our operations throughout the Middle East, so it’s provided me with a great opportunity to meet new potential customers and develop our offering based on the needs of the market.

We have a fantastic Arabic and English-speaking team that based permanently on the ground here, so I’ve welcomed the opportunity to listen to their ideas so we can ensure we are providing the best possible service to our clients.

As someone who loves to travel, it’s great to be able to provide clients with a truly wonderful tailored luxury holiday experience that has been personalised to their exact requirements. Whether it’s a holiday experience for an avid golf fan, a trip to coincide with an anniversary or simply a getaway for a family who wants to spend some quality time together, it’s very rewarding to be able to provide our clients with a truly memorable luxury holiday experience that will stay with them for a lifetime.

In my spare time I like to…

“As I’ve just moved with my family to Dubai, I’ve been enjoying getting out and about and exploring the region where I live. Closer to home, my children have always wanted to learn to surf, so you’ll now find me most Saturdays watching them in their attempts to master it. I’m even tempted to give it a go myself- with a backdrop of the Burj Al Arab and the beautiful Arabian Gulf in front of you, who wouldn’t be tempted?

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