“My fondest [hotel] memory was staying at Villa d’Este on my honeymoon,” says Alan Leibman, chief executive officer of the international hotel group. “In fact, I recently returned there with my wife to celebrate our anniversary and to retrace our steps. It was a different experience from our first time staying there as I think we originally may have had one of the smallest rooms. But [both] stays were magical.”
Leibman was born in South Africa and moved to the United States when he was 11. He grew up in the world of hospitality and worked in his family’s gourmet food and wine companies in Texas before earning an Associate’s Degree at the American Culinary Institute in New York. He also obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Hotel and Restaurant Administration from Florida International University.
“My number one goal as CEO is to ensure all of our resorts are continuing to provide amazing experiences and everlasting memories for our guests; develop committed passionate people; and develop and introduce both Atlantis and One&Only resorts in new markets,” Leibman says.
At the end of last year, Kerzner International announced that they would be taking over the management of Emirates’s Wolgan Valley and rebranding it with One&Only. This happened in February and was hot on the heels of the recent launch of One&Only Hayman Island in the Great Barrier Reef. This also makes it the ninth One&Only property across the globe and gives the group the best of both The Blue Mountains and the Great Barrier Reef in their One&Only portfolio.
“As we continue to aggressively grow, one of our challenges is ensuring we are growing our team at the same pace,” Leibman says. “We are always looking for passionate, committed people to blow away our guests.”
Indeed, Leibman believes that the people who work at the resorts are the company’s greatest asset. This has been the case at One&Only Palmilla in Los Cabos, Mexico. As one of their flagship properties, it reopened on 20 April following Hurricane Odile in September last year.
The spirit of the local community was quite remarkable and the company was delighted that One&Only Palmilla was at the heart of it. And now that the resort is better than ever (and set to be the dining destination in the region, given the Seared Steakhouse in collaboration with Jean Georges), growth continues with two additional resorts on the Pacific coast of Mexico: One&Only Mandarina and One&Only Santa Maria de Xala. Both will offer a complementary experience to One&Only Palmilla.
“One of our challenges is growing fast enough for our guests—they want more!” Leibman says. “We are aggressive at introducing both One&Only and Atlantis into new markets. However, for both One&Only and Atlantis Resorts, we need to be in the right destinations for us to provide our level of design and service.”
The group is also developing One&Only Portonovi (Montenegro), One&Only Bahrain (Persian Gulf), One&Only Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), and One&Only Sanya (in Hainan, China’s smallest and southernmost province). All the while they will continue to innovate at their existing resorts in the in Maldives, Mauritius, Cape Town, and Dubai.
“To lead you need to empower, inspire, and challenge people,” Leibman says. “I surround myself with a strong team and put the right people in the right roles. I have an expert Development Team that is committed to excellence in finding the right locations and delivering an exceptional product.”
Looking further into the future, the company will continue to focus its efforts on positioning its business for long-term, sustainable growth. To do this, they plan to develop and manage world-class trophy properties with partners who understand that quality commands higher rates, higher asset value and strong operating results. It’s about delivering truly memorable experiences and impeccable service.
More specifically, they are expanding both the One&Only and Atlantis brands and intend to take the One&Only brand into primary cities as well as where they know their guests frequently travel. Right now, key locations include the likes of London, Paris, and New York. (The United States continues to be its number one source market for guests so they are looking at the One&Only concept for this.)
But the company will remain focused on the ultra-luxury segment for One&Only (not mass luxury) while the Atlantis brand, which is more leisure-focused, will continue to grow as an iconic entertainment destination resort offering with wider appeal.
“Hotels play such an important role in memories,” Leibman says. “I am excited to be a part of delivering that for guests all over the world”
One&Only around the world
One&Only Resorts are created exclusively for the luxury resort market. Each award-winning resort is set in some of the world’s most beautiful locations. Each also offers guests genuine hospitality and a distinctive style and personality that comes from the local culture.
But when it comes to One&Only, there’s no need to choose only one. Here’s a list of the resorts around the world, each of which offers the ultimate luxury experience at a villa, penthouse, or presidential suite. That means you can expect a dedicated host and butler team, always nearby to make sure you get whatever you want and need.
1. One&Only Ocean Club, Paradise Island, The Bahamas: Villa Residences
2. One&Only Palmilla, Los Cabos, Mexico: Villa Cortez
3. One&Only Royal Mirage, Dubai: Beach Garden Villa Residence
4. One&Only The Palm, Dubai: Villas and Luxury Mansions
5. One&Only Le Saint Géran, Mauritius: Two-Bedroom Ocean Front Villa Residence with Pool (Nelson Mandela stayed here!)
6. One&Only Reethi Rah, Maldives: Grand Beach Villas
7. One&Only Cape Town: Presidential Suite
8. One&Only Hayman Island, Great Barrier Reef: One-Bedroom Penthouses, Two-Bedroom Diane von Furstenberg Penthouse, and Three-Bedroom Owner’s Penthouse
9. Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley: Three-Bedroom Wolgan Suite