Managed by Sunland Hotels, Coco Collection was created in 2005, with its deluxe luxury private island, Coco Privé, opening in 2010. Today, the group manages four distinct properties, each appealing to different budgets. Andrew Ashmore, Chief Commercial Officer of Coco Collection Hotels and Resorts, explains what makes their collection so special.
What makes Coco Collection’s range of hotels stand out?
Coco Collection has four properties: our private island, Coco Privé; a five-star hotel, Coco Bodu Hithi; a four-star hotel, Coco Palm Dhuni Kolhu; and a three-star resort, Biyadhoo (Under Sunland Hotels not Coco Collection). Coco Privé is one of two genuine private islands in the Maldives, as we offer an all-inclusive experience, including all meals, drinks, spa time and transfers in the price. Coco Bodu Hithi is located only 35 minutes by speedboat from the main airport, making it our most convenient property to access. With our four-star property, Coco Palm, we have the most amount of repeat customers, and the property also operates a turtle rescue sanctuary. Biyadhoo, the three-star resort, is an institution in the Maldives. It is a classic island: no water villas, beautiful beaches, great scenery and amazing diving.
How has Coco Collection succeeded where others are struggling?
Hotels have generally struggled this year, but we are performing above par, making greater revenues than we were last year, for a variety number of reasons. Above all, you can’t run resorts in the Maldives like you used to. About 80% of new resorts that are opening in the Maldives are seaplane destinations. The problem with seaplane destinations is the fixed cost; there’s no discounting the ticket prices. Immediately, you’ve got to add a large additional cost.
How are you reacting to the boom of new competition?
By 2021, almost every chain will be represented in the Maldives. We’ll have to be the best at what we do. The European market, which has been the ‘bread and butter’ for the Maldives since the ’80s, will never grow; it’ll stay relatively constant. Obviously, we will need to rely on the Asian and Middle Eastern markets to a greater degree and other emerging markets. It is a question of balance. At the moment, the Chinese represent on average 23% of our businesses. We should embrace China because the market has a lot to offer.
In what ways do you promote sustainable tourism?
We’re getting rid of all plastic straws. In fact, we’re trying to work with a local charity to get rid of all plastics. We did a collection at our five- and four-star resorts, where we asked the staff to collect every single bit of plastic we have at the resort to calculate where we can get rid of it. Resorts are taking greater responsibility now, and not just Coco Collection. I think there’s a real concerted effort by general managers and owners to move towards the elimination of plastics. However, I would like to see greater responsibility by the local municipalities and government; on local islands, where the greater number of guest houses are, we see the most amount of plastic and rubbish. This needs to be addressed at a higher level as a matter of urgency.