With the launch of Earth – our new collection, we are exploring some of the world’s finest Safari lodges and eco-retreats. We caught up with Arnaud Zannier, Founder of Zannier Hotels. Arnaud has created an incredible portfolio of worldwide, one-of-a-kind hotels, resorts and lodges united by beauty, simplicity and culturally rich experiences. His passion for seeking and delivering sustainable and eco-conscious design as well as conservation resonates with us, both sharing a desire to tread carefully on the planet.
Described by Forbes as a new era of progressive luxury hospitality, from ‘Le Chalet’ in the Alps to’ Bai San Ho’ on a secluded peninsula in Vietnam each destination, although uniquely different has the ability to blend seamlessly within the landscapes, welcoming in their local cultures and in doing so inspire ‘life’s greatest stories.’
Responsible and mindful travel is elevated throughout Zannier Hotels, allowing guests to disconnect from the outside world and their daily lives Something that, we believe post-pandemic has become more important than ever where the appreciation of luxury has less so become associated with ‘things’ but rather the experiences that these incredible destinations can create.
Zannier Hotels Omaanda, located within the 22,000-acre Zannier Reserve in Namibia, like all the hotels in the Zannier collection encapsulates their ethos and vision of luxury, which does not imply opulence or excessiveness. This is a carefully crafted boutique safari lodge with 10 individual Owambo-style thatch and clay huts.
Relaxation and adventure is balanced through Omaanda’s partnership with N/a’an ku sê – a foundation dedicated to the conservancy of Namibia’s wildlife, land and cultures. And guests can enjoy breakfast among the meerkats at sunrise; tracking rhino’s and elephants or simply experience the nocturnal beauty of the savanna – all with their own private guide.
Tell us about your most meaningful, exciting or stand out memory of travel…
Japan is probably one of my best travel memories. I actually have been there three times, but I really want to go back with my children and show them this wonderful country, that I really admire. I want them to discover the incredible landscapes, culture, and gastronomy of Japan, and feel the genuine simplicity and humbleness of the people there.
What is your most memorable moment with Wildlife? Any close shaves?
Having properties in Namibia in the middle of the Zannier Reserve by N/a’an ku sê gives us the opportunity to live unique experiences in the middle of the wildlife. It is quite breathtaking to cross the path of wild elephants or rhinoceros around Zannier Hotels Omaanda. I have never experienced a threatening situation or felt unsafe. Our reserve is actually protected 24/7 by professional rangers, trained to prevent poaching, and to ensure the land and wildlife remains protected. We seek to incorporate ourselves as best we can into the environment to ensure that we do not disrupt and respect their daily lives and that they do not feel threatened by our presence.
What’s your idea of a perfect family holiday?
I really enjoy spending time with my family for holidays. I enjoy going to the Mediterranean Sea, where I have some roots. We spend time on the French Riviera, where my family owns a wine estate and we enjoy the sun, the sea and good wine while spending quality time together. Travelling all over the world with my kids is also something I enjoy. It is so exciting to make them discover other countries, different cultures and engage with local communities. Even for shorter city trips, I love bringing them, and going together in the latest restaurants discoveries.
What does sustainability mean to you?
Often, sustainability is seen as unreachable and far too complex for a company to apply on a large scale. The truth is, even the biggest companies can put sustainable solutions in place, step by step. For me, this is a necessity. I am to leave — as much as possible — a positive footprint in the places where we operate. This includes sustainable construction, eco-conception, predominance of raw materials, waste management, use of local techniques, and empowerment of the local workforce. Sustainability must be planned ahead of construction and present from start to finish in the creation process.
Our core belief is that the surrounding environment, culture and people should remain protected, with conservation and sustainability playing a major part in Zannier Hotels’ DNA. At each of the Zannier properties, we constantly strive for sustainability in daily operations and work with passionate local teams with the upmost respect for local heritage and the surrounding environment.
We strive to conserve energy, limit single plastic use, and reduce waste across our properties. At Zannier Hotels Sonop, 100% of the energy comes from solar panels installed onsite and Zanier Hotels Omaanda has its own beehive to provide guests with honey. At our properties in Vietnam and Cambodia, we grow and cultivate our own rice in partnership with local farmers, and we have our own on-site gardens to supply produce to the kitchens.
We also aim to support the local communities, with the majority of team members at each of the properties employed locally. We organise English lessons for residents of the surrounding villages in Vietnam and Cambodia, plus we are working on launching a more permanent training scheme for young people living in areas surrounding Zannier Hotels Bãi San Hô so we can attract local talent and give back to the community. In addition, we source all our materials, food and products locally to support farmers, fishermen, artisans and craftsmen.
Our approach to sustainability is evident in the construction of the hotels. To minimise the land impact of our new properties, we carefully consider the number of units developed, even if this means a lower occupation/revenue. We strive to achieve a good balance between maintaining a location’s natural charm and designing new infrastructure and we use local materials and building techniques to ensure our properties blend seamlessly into the landscape. This is reflected in the values of minimalism and authenticity that characterises Zannier Hotels.
If you had to choose, where is your favourite place on earth (so far)?
London has always been a place close to my heart. It’s important to me both professionally and personally and I’m now based in the city. I love to explore the city with my children, all of which have (or are planning to) study there. I like the vibe, the proximity to everything and the buzzing atmosphere.
If you were asking where to relax and unwind, I would then say by the Mediterranean Sea. We used to spend family holidays on the French Riviera, and now Menorca has become a favourite place to gather with friends and family. Looking back on your successes what piece of advice would you share?
I think that hoteliers have to detach themselves from standardization to meet the new expectations of customers. This is even more visible now, after the covid crisis: people tend are looking for genuine encounters and authentic experiences
To travel is to…
… discover new cultures I would say. Travel always teaches you something, no matter the reasons why you’re travelling and what you have in your suitcase. One thing about yourself we don’t know
I always loved motorbikes. I share this passion with my best friends and with my son, which allows me to create tons of great memories. I like both working on my motorbikes (you can empty your mind while doing mechanics on old machines) and riding them of course. I initiated a US road trip for my 45th birthday with my best friends, and this became a yearly ritual. I’ll without a doubt go back to the vast American plains as soon as I can!
So..if your off on safari soon?
Discover our Earth collection, designed for the eco-conscious traveller and the perfect pieces for every adventure…
All imagery ©Zannier Hotels