Recently, Elite Traveler Editor-at-Large Daniel Wade met with Marco Franck, General Manager of Amanyara – a secluded haven in the sun drenched Turks & Caicos Islands offering the ultimate in privacy and tranquility and considered one of the crown jewels of the Aman Resorts empire. Mr. Franck’s background in the hospitality and fashion industries has given him a keen eye for the smallest detail and an innate sense of future luxury trends. With many new services, a significant investment in luxury Villas and a new private jet terminal on the horizon, we had the opportunity to discuss what it is about Amanyara that elite travelers find so irresistible.
Marco Franck: My father Karl Franck comes from a history of large, branded hotel companies, back when there were large companies such as ITT Sheraton, Hilton, Holiday Inn, and InterContinental. My father’s experience included everything from hotels in the Caribbean to hotels in Beirut, Beijing, and Australia. However, I didn’t follow in his footsteps right away. When I came out of university, I worked in fashion and art, and that kept me occupied until I was 30 years old.
When I was 30 I started working with a Japanese hotel company that was linked to an airline called All Nippon Airways, ANA Hotels. And that meant my first opportunity to work within the hotel industry was under Asian management… and that taught me was how important the food concept was, especially for a Japanese hotel company. Within two years, I found myself with Aman Resorts for the first time. And, interesting enough, I went all the way from working for a Japanese hotel company in the middle of Micronesia to working for a Singapore-based company all the way in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. After that, I spent several years with different companies, everywhere from InterContinental to Shangri-La to Constance and then found my way back to Aman. And the main reason is that once you experience Aman, you’ll never experience something quite like it again.
ET: Today it seems that ultra-high net worth travelers have more choices than ever with old and new brands all claiming to provide the ultimate luxury experience. What it is about the Aman Resorts product that has made customers so passionate about the brand and enabled the company to flourish in such a competitive environment?
MF: From my perspective, I go back to it being a philosophy-based company, which means that we truly believe in the philosophy. It doesn’t mean that we’ve studied manuals, and we excel because we get all the points correct. We excel because we truly believe that you do have to take care of the customer. The customer is of the utmost importance and nothing can get in the way of that. At Aman, there should be zero dissatisfaction. We go to extreme lengths to make sure that no customer leaves our properties unhappy.
ET: You’ve been with Amanyara over four years now. Tell us about the Amanyara experience and how you’ve adapted the product to meet the needs of your customers. What type of products do you see demand for in the future?
MF: We’re doing a lot—not only just for ourselves, but for our own country of Turks and Caicos and the islands of the Caribbean—to bring back true luxury experiences and top levels of service within the Caribbean. And one thing we’ve seen at this property is that the customer always wants to be presented with something new and interesting. So, every year, whether it’s a new product that we develop within our pavilions or within our villas, or whether it’s introducing a nature discovery center that teaches children about the environment, a turtle conservation initiative where guests can join in, or our outreach programs that we have with the community—everything has some added value
In the coming years, one area that we’re moving forward on will be estates by Amanyara. It’ll be an experience similar to our villas but taken to a whole different level, not only in terms of the size of the actual properties that we will have for sale and rent to our customers, but also in the added architectural values that one already knows Aman is famous for.
ET: The Caribbean is a top destination for private jets. What type of special services do you provide for Amanyara guests arriving via private jet?
MF: Provo has an ever-increasing demand for private jets. In fact, St. Martin tends to have some of the busiest periods for private flights in the world. So, one thing, we’ve always strived to do is what we call jet-set catering—where we do catering for these crafts. But the next step is that we’ll be connected to a new luxury FBO , and that’s currently being built at our existing international airport, which is set to be open for the next high season.
ET: Your position provides a unique insider’s view of the luxury travel segment. What recent trends have you seen in the kinds of food choices and health services guests are looking for?
MF: Whatever’s happening out there in the world—whether increasing nut allergies or a vegan movement —you have to take care of customer’s dietary requirements. Our philosophy ensures that no matter what kind of culinary preferences you need that you’re still coming here and having the exact high-level of relaxation as the person sitting next to you. The other side is the holistic side. We’ve seen that the most important thing is the quality of the therapists. We bring international specialists from around the world with extensive experience in different fields. The customers are increasingly knowledgeable about all these different treatments and also increasingly knowledgeable about the names of some of these therapists and instructors.
ET: Are there other trends that seem to be on the increase?
MF: One thing that’s also increasing is that the affluent guests always want the best. We have our Ocean Pavilion, which has the highest rate and the most beautiful view—it’s in high occupancy every year. We have another villa, which we’ve had for several years, called the Artist’s Villa, which, likewise, customers wish to call and request by name. They know what the layout is—it’s extremely private, has an extraordinary pool. Another thing we’ve seen is that our villa host service or butler service, which we started introducing to some specific pavilion categories, has fared very well also. The whole idea of a roving butler is also something that’s a growing trend.
ET: From a personal standpoint, I know you enjoy being on the water and I understand you are quite an adventurer. Are there any unique adventure experiences that you’d recommend to our readers?
MF: There is a growing phenomenon on the island called kiteboarding, and what’s fantastic about kiteboarding is that it’s age-friendly. You have seven year-olds trying it for the first time and you have 60 year-olds trying it for the first time. It’s a very safe environment because of on-shore breeze, so you don’t get blown out, and the water is shallow. We also have a great program here called turtle tagging. We’ve linked ourselves with the UK marine conservancy, and one component is that customers go out on a boat with true South Caicos fishermen, and we give guests an opportunity to help catch and tag turtles for the sake science.