Meet the hospitality group leading the way in wellness and sustainability
Olivier Jolivet was Managing Director of COMO Group since 2017, overseeing the brand portfolio of 15 major hotels across the globe, from London to the Maldives. More recently, Jolivet oversaw the brand’s first European launch with COMO Castello Del Nero, a 12th-century castle set on 740 acres of rolling greenery in Tuscany.
What sets COMO apart from other luxury brands and how do you maintain a point of difference from other luxury hotel brands? Since its inception, COMO Group’s shareholding has remained the same, which has provided a rare sense of stability and the opportunity to think long-term. It’s a competitive advantage, especially when recruiting new talent. COMO is more than just a brand, it’s a spirit and a lifestyle, which is why we have invested in fashion, dining, wellness and sport, and will continue to do so as we go. as we grow.
What is your approach to sustainable development for today and in the future? Our properties are located around the world and each destination faces its own sustainability challenges.
Recent successes include the appointment of a sustainability manager at COMO Parrot Cay in the Turks and Caicos Islands to oversee projects on the island, such as waste reduction, water conservation and our mission to ‘eliminate single-use plastic bottles by 2023. Our Maldives resorts, COMO Cocoa Island and COMO Maalifushi, are heavily involved in marine conservation initiatives, while COMO Uma Bhutan supports Clean Bhutan, a non-profit organization charity working to make the country zero waste by 2030.
COMO Castello del Nero marks the brand’s first foray into Europe. Why Italy? What can you tell us about the upcoming opening of COMO Le Montrachet in France? Italy is a destination that never goes out of style, and as an international lifestyle brand, it’s almost impossible to avoid. Tuscany in particular is one of the most beautiful regions of the country, with its rich history, beautiful landscapes, traditions and cuisine, it is of great international appeal. The opening of the region’s first Asian-inspired wellness concept in the form of the hotel’s COMO Shambhala Retreat offers something new and unique to such a popular destination.
COMO Le Montrachet, our next European project in preparation, is exciting for us. We are opening the property in Burgundy, which is widely regarded as the most prestigious wine region in the world and COMO will be the first international hotel group to operate there. It’s going to build on our reputation for delivering authentic, locally-inspired dining experiences, and we’ve worked with our long-time design partner, Paola Navone, on the interiors to give it that distinct COMO feel.
How do you balance creating a brand that is both timeless and forward-thinking? I think the secret to a timeless hotel brand is having a strong brand identity and sticking to clear core values. One of our points of distinction, for example, is the distinctive appearance of our properties. When designing a hotel or restoring an existing building, we have a deep understanding of what can and cannot be changed: we always keep the original and historical elements intact. In this way, we provide guests with state-of-the-art facilities and stylish spaces that have a story to tell.
Bhutan is a relatively atypical country in the portfolio. What is the process when it comes to finding and opening new properties? We place great emphasis on location when developing a new property, always thinking about how a destination relates to our brand values. Bhutan has such a strong spiritual energy, which travelers looking for authentic experiences respond to very well, so while it might be considered unusual, it’s actually a part of the world that makes a lot of sense for the COMO brand.
What does modern luxury look like? While luxury can mean different things to different people, COMO’s idea of luxury is understated, sophisticated, authentic and deeply connected to personal well-being. We pay a lot of attention to the architecture of our properties because we want to offer our guests a dream space and a pure atmosphere where they can recharge their batteries, rest and reconnect with themselves. And for me, luxury has something to do with the connection between space and intimacy.
What trends are you noticing in travel and hotel bookings right now? The pandemic has caused a shift in people’s priorities, with health and well-being higher than ever. As a result, the trend towards wellness-focused tourism has continued to soar, and today many businesses are refining their wellness offerings to keep pace. However, our wellness credentials are unmatched; COMO and COMO Shambhala are pioneers.
Privacy and intimate locations are also of utmost importance to luxury travelers, and we’ve noticed increased demand for COMO’s private villas and residences, as well as private and exclusive experiences for small groups of friends. or families.
Today, discerning travelers eschew luxury for luxury’s sake and are more interested in immersive and meaningful experiences that make them feel part of a larger story: the story of the destination they are discovering.
What gives you hope right now? The turmoil of the past few years has taken its toll on everyone, no matter where in the world or what industry they work in. Meeting people face to face was impossible, and making digital connections was the only way. Now that the world is opening up again, resuming in-person meetings and connecting with people around the world and hearing their inspiring stories is energizing and will no longer be taken for granted.