June 22, 2023
Luxury Safari Magazine interviews Arnaud Zannier, founder and CEO of Zannier Hotels
Luxury Safari Magazine is thrilled to interview Arnaud Zannier, founder and CEO of the Zannier Hotel Group. Here we find out more about Arnaud and what inspires him, about his experiences and beginnings:
Arnaud you must be an extremely busy man, we thank you for your valuable time and look forward to finding out all about you, the Zannier Hotel Group and precisely what makes you tick.
Arnaud, could you please tell us about your beginnings and what led you to become the founder of this mighty impressive hotel group?
My journey started with my passion for fashion, design, and hospitality. After working for Kickers, I worked in the fashion industry and developed my own brand of luxury shoes that I ran for 18 years, which allowed me to develop my interest in authenticity and textures. Besides, I felt compelled to explore the world of hospitality and create remarkable experiences for people. In 2011, an opportunity presented itself when I acquired the three-star Michelin restaurant “La Ferme de Mon Pere” in Megeve, France. This crucial moment marked the beginning of Zannier Hotels. Since then, I have been able to combine my love for design, authenticity, and extraordinary locations and I continue to curate unforgettable stays for our guests.
Who and what inspires you?
I find inspiration in many aspects of life, but mostly everything that exudes elegance and culture. I draw inspiration from art, architecture, nature, and the people I meet along the way. These influences shape my approach to hospitality, and I aim to bring a sense of authenticity, human connection and a humble yet sophisticated atmosphere to every Zannier Hotels property.
What does your day look like, you must be an early riser.
For me, not two days are alike. Running a hotel group comes with a wide variety of responsibilities and unexpected challenges; you never know what tomorrow will bring. Although I don’t have a fixed routine, I believe in starting the day early and being ready to deal with whatever comes up. Flexibility and adaptability are essential in my job and that is what makes the job beautiful. I am very much involved, from concept design to operational details.
How do you relax, where do you take your vacations?
It depends, but I enjoy spending quality time with my friends and family, whether it is sharing a meal together or having interesting conversations. I have an annual tradition of going on a bike ride with a group of close friends, each year in a different location. Exploring new landscapes and challenging myself physically is a great way to decompress. I also enjoy travelling with my children and creating unforgettable memories together. And, of course, dinner with my wife in a restaurant is always a pleasure.
What are the main challenges of being the CEO of Zannier Hotels?
I believe like most entrepreneurs, it comes with its unique set of challenges but always starts with passion. One of the main challenges is managing time effectively. There are only 24 hours in a day, and there’s always more to do. At the moment, the slow recovery of the Asian market after the COVID-19 pandemic is a subject that I follow closely with my teams. The uncertainty surrounding tomorrow’s circumstances is another challenge we face. However, I must say that these challenges are also what make the role exciting and dynamic. We were precursors 12 years ago by opening human-size properties in secondary destinations, and seclusion and authenticity are criteria on the hype at the moment. The challenge is hence to remain ahead of trends, anticipate potential pitfalls and manage them effectively when they arise while remaining positive.
How do you see the brand expanding, or have you peaked?
We have exciting plans for Zannier Hotels’ expansion. Our focus lies in pursuing our development under management contracts, allowing us to expand more rapidly and maintain the brand spirit and quality across new properties. We recently announced our appointment to transform and manage Ile de Bendor, which is set to open in spring 2026 and will become our European landmark. Additionally, we are regularly approached by investors. I never hid my intentions to enter the U.S. market and to create a city hotel… who knows when. In short, there is still plenty of room for growth, and we are eager to continue expanding our unique hospitality offerings.
What sets Zannier Hotels apart from other hotels and residences?
Zannier Hotels stands out from other industry actors thanks to its niche positioning. First and foremost, a focus on authenticity. We choose locations where our guests wouldn’t typically expect to find a hotel, allowing them to immerse themselves in truly remarkable surroundings. Another important factor is the human-level size of our properties. We deliberately keep our hotels small, ensuring a more intimate and personalized experience for our guests. Sustainability is a core value for us, and we strive to minimize our environmental impact while providing genuine service and an atmosphere that feels like a home away from home. This is why for instance we initiated an ambitious programme to have all our hotels certified by Green Globe. Our humble approach sets us apart, combining luxury, authenticity and sustainable hospitality, as we prioritize creating meaningful connections with our guests.
You have hotels in France, Cambodia and Namibia, do you have a favourite?
Choosing a favorite among all the properties is extremely complicated for me, as they all are my “babies.” Each one holds a special place in my heart, and they have their own unique charms. However, if I were to highlight one, it would be our latest opening, Zannier
Hotels Bai San Ho. This project, which opened in December 2020, is an incredible construction on 98 hectares of pristine land overlooking a protected coral bay. With 73 villas reflecting Vietnamese architectural styles nestled within endemic vegetation, it truly embodies the deeply rooted Vietnamese culture. Despite the complexity of opening during the COVID-19 pandemic, it stands as a remarkable achievement for the entire Zannier Hotels team.
What shape did your career path take?
My career path has been an exciting journey of personal and professional growth. Starting in the fashion industry, I developed a passion for authenticity and the power of textures. However, it was my personal passion for hospitality that truly ignited my entrepreneurial spirit. With this drive, I founded Zannier Hotels, which has now evolved into a dynamic lifestyle brand. Today, our portfolio extends beyond Zannier Hotels to include Zannier Private Estate, Zannier Residences and Nonna Bazaar. Zannier Private Estates are exceptional family homes, exclusively available for private use, with the same impeccable service and curated local experiences as Zannier Hotels. Each private estate promises an extraordinary and completely exclusive experience for our guest’s thanks to their history, design, location and authenticity. Zannier Residences offers an exclusive residential experience, where guests can immerse themselves in refined luxury. Nonna Bazaar celebrates the art of artisanal products and promotes a farm-to-table culture to maintain that unforgettable standard in an atmosphere of sharing and celebration. So far, it has been a natural progression driven by my personal passions and the desire to offer guests a holistic experience beyond traditional hotel stays.
Your awards are many, from France’s Best Ski Boutique Hotel to Best Tented Luxury Accommodation in Namibia, how do you maintain such incredible accolades?
We are very proud of the recognition we have received through various awards. What makes it even more special is that we don’t actively apply for these accolades. But we certainly feel a sense of joy and accomplishment when we receive them. To maintain such incredible awards, we emphasize hard work and consistency in providing exceptional experiences for our guests. We continuously strive to exceed expectations and deliver the highest quality of service. Some recent notable awards include “Most Unique Hotel Group 2023” by Resorts & Retreats Awards 2023, “World’s Best Lodge ” for Zannier Hotels Sonop at the Hotel & Lodge Award 2023, the title “ Most Culturally-Enriching Resort 2023 & Best Coastal Hotel & Resort 2023” for Zannier Hotels Bai San Ho at the South East Asia Business Awards 2023 or “Best Private Residence Group 2023, West Europe” for Zannier Private Estates at the European Travel Awards 2023 – which have brought great industry recognition to our properties.
Researching the website we see that design and authenticity are extremely important, together with the amazing locations for all of the properties, how do you maintain a level of sustainability and moving forward do you have further plans in this area?
Sustainability is a commitment that runs throughout our entire group. We prioritize environmentally responsible practices and aim to minimize our ecological footprint. This is why we have decided to commit to all our properties to receive the Green Globe certification. Zannier Hotels Bai San Ho and Zannier Hotels Phum Baitang have already been certified. Others will follow. Green Globe certification both evaluates and recognizes our efforts toward sustainability. Moving forward, we have ambitious plans to continue expanding our green initiatives. We are constantly exploring innovative ways to further reduce our impact on the environment. We just erased the use of any single plastic in our rooms in our Vietnamese property, and work towards the reduction of food waste by 30% over the 5 coming years. The 923 solar panels of Zannier Hotels Sonop combined with the five boreholes, 10 tanks and network of 9km of pipping prove that we are anticipating green solutions from the conception of our properties.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
Thank you for this opportunity to share more about Zannier Hotels. We are delighted to announce all our news including our upcoming project, Zannier Hotels Bendor due to open in spring 2026. With the Societe Paul Ricard, we aim to modernize the island (Ile de Bendor) and build on its founder’s legacy, Paul Ricard. The renovation will transform the island facing the bay of Bandol into a Provençal-style village and exciting gathering space. This will be an extraordinary addition to our portfolio, and we can’t wait for guests to experience its unique offerings. In addition, we are excited about the expansion of Zannier Private Estates through the addition of a unique property overlooking the sea in Mauritius, “Le Campement”, which will provide by the end of 2023 even more opportunities for guests to explore exceptional destinations with our signature touch.
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