Whitsundays resort Hayman is taking luxury to new level this month, with the opening of brand new Beach Villas. To find out what’s planned and what else is on the refurbishment radar, HM catches up with new General Manager Shane Green.
WORDS JAMES WILKINSON ON HAYMAN ISLAND, QLD
HM: There are currently some exciting plans and works in place for the property’s future. Can you reveal what is planned for the Beach Villas, what level of luxury detail the hotel is going to and the expected outcome for the iconic property?
Shane Green: I feel very fortunate to be coming to Hayman at such an exciting juncture in the properties history. There is tremendous support and investment from our ownership group going on, highlighted by the opening of the new Beach Villas in December. We have been tasked by our owners to deliver the most sought after resort experience in the world in these rooms. Designed by renowned architect Kerry Hill the Villas incorporate outside showers, an internal garden, a large plunge pool, Apple technology and direct access to the beach. Beyond the physical attributes, the Villas will have a butler service, a personal concierge to develop our guests’ Hayman adventure, a customized array of food and beverage treats served three times each day, and many small surprises that is ensured to delight everyone. The Villas will afford guests the opportunity to enjoy complete privacy or easy access to all the resorts great features and services.
HM: What other works have been undertaken and what else is planned for the resort?
SG: We are very excited to unveil our first private residence in December which will set a new benchmark in Australia for living experiences with access to all the resorts wonderful amenities. We have also been working on refreshing the resort and just installed a new deck for the Hayman pool, installed HD televisions and iPod stations in all the rooms and have been working on the general appearance of the resort. We have also just introduced a Hayman Ranger program for children 6-12 years of age, which has been extremely popular, extended our fishing and dive adventures and have added some new culinary delights. If you ever wanted to try to the best Burger in the world, you only need to come to Hayman and enjoy our new signature burger. We have also introduced Wellness dishes in all our outlets. In the next 24 months we have plans to place new tennis courts into the resort, including the Blue Plexi cushion used at the Australian open, a new Hayman Kids Club, an upgrade of the Spa and some new retail options.
HM: How has the property performed so far in 2010 and what are you expecting for the next 12-18 months?
SG: Discretionary leisure travel (both domestic and international) has had a couple of tough years and unfortunately outbound travel continues to grow. Hayman’s performance has been reflective of this but we have used this opportunity (whilst demand has been softer) to embark upon our upgrade program. We are expecting a stronger 2011 with further continued growth in 2012 out of most of our major market segments.
HM: Which market segments are you expecting to be the strongest for the remainder of the year and what are you expecting from the high-end luxury market?
SG: We are seeing a lot of our key international markets stabilising and leisure travellers starting to return. The family market continues to be very strong and is evident these school holidays. Weddings still remain very strong for 2010 and based on the level of inquiries and planning for 2011 this will is a growth market for us next year. The high-end luxury market will continue to strengthen but along with that, a new expectation of luxury is evolving. We see this a lot internationally where the luxury traveller is looking for more unique experiences and adventure opportunities, which is an area Hayman does excel at.
HM: What will be key markets for the hotel over the next 12 months and how strong are you expecting the international market to be?
SG: From a behavioural perspective, the resort is confident about the continued growth of family and adventure. Romance will continue to be strong for us and the C&I business is always key. Key market segments will be the leisure traveller, incentive business and our wedding business. Key geographic segments will continue to be domestic with the USA, UK and Europe also a focus. The international market is showing signs of renewed confidence and stabilisation. Whilst predictions are still broadly tentative, most tourism forecasts are indicating that there will be modest growth in 2011.
HM: The Whitsundays have been a strong performer this year – what are you expecting for the region’s accommodation industry as a whole, particularly as far as the luxury segment is concerned?
SG: The Whitsundays has a variety of product offerings which cater to all demographics – from backpacker to high-end luxury across both accommodation and sailing/bareboat holidays. This has allowed the region to perform relatively well compared to other destinations as its market mix is quite varied. The region has also had good support from the airlines, both Jetstar and Virgin Blue. The region continues to grow in popularity and product diversity so there is every reason the strong performance will continue, especially in the luxury segment.
HM: You have some excellent F&B on offer at the hotel. Tell us about some of the special offerings at present – and what’s planned for your F&B outlets?
SG: We are fortunate to have one of the best food and beverage products of any hotel, anywhere in the world. The attention to detail and creativity is exceptional. As a General Manager it is great when you can challenge your Chef and Culinary team with something and they continually exceed your expectations. We wanted to add in more Wellness menu items and within a month, the team had introduced an array of new healthy dishes throughout the resort as well as a new juice fusion program. I asked the team create a new signature hamburger and Chef Glenn Bacon created ‘Burger Cent Cinquante’, boasting such delicacies as a mouth watering slice of wagyu beef topped with freshly shaved Manjimup truffles, Iberico jamon, foie gras, truffle-infused egg, Brillat–Savarin cheese and caramelised onions.
We have introduced the Hayman Grill, inspired by some of the great grills of Las Vegas I was working with in the past couple of years. The Grill is quickly becoming a much anticipated dinner on Sunday nights with an array of tantalising dishes being presented by the Chefs. Meanwhile, in November 2010, another exciting addition to the Hayman culinary calendar will be a fabulous tequila and cigar bar complemented by a Central American inspired lunch and evening menu.
HM: Onto the MICE market and what level of interest have you seen for conferences and events at the property in 2010?
SG: International incentives (which have longer lead time) have been very soft this year and this is likely to follow suit next year. However, we are seeing increased quotation activity for international incentives for 2012 onwards. Domestic conferencing, with much shorter lead time, is rebounding and the region should perform well in this area.
HM: MICE was the last segment to rebound following the GFC, but will the segment remain strong? What are your expectations over the next 12 months?
SG: Hayman is very suited towards private management retreats and company reward and recognition programs. Hayman enjoyed some great business from MICE this year including a number of island buy-out programs. Whilst most companies clamped down on their expenditure over the last 18 months, we see this easing over the next 12 months and this should be a strong business source for the region.
HM: Shane, tell us about your background in the hotel industry.
SG: It began at the Parkroyal Christchurch as a Security Officer as a way to pay my way through college. When I moved to the United States after college on a Visa, I decided that hotels would be a great way to become immersed in the local Los Angeles culture. I was fortunate enough to work with and get developed by the Ritz Carlton Hotel Company for the next eight years. After my time with the Ritz Carlton group I decided to start my own training business, which developed into numerous businesses involving guest recognition technology, auditing and hospitality consulting. During this time I was able to work with many of the great hospitality brands and independent hotels in North America. At the same time I also engaged in projects for the National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, Cisco Systems, NetJets and other non Hospitality driven companies. This provided a wide base of business knowledge, a strong affinity for Marketing and Creative thinking and a greater love for Hospitality. One of the more recent projects I was engaged on was the development of the residential programming for Cipriani USA. This became my last role before Hayman, working on the development of properties around the world.
Hayman Island, Whitsundays, QLD, Australia
Owner: Mulpha Australia
Operator: Mulpha Australia
General Manager: Shane Green
Rooms & suites: 172 rooms, 18 suites, 11 penthouses, 8 beach villas, 1 beach house
F&B outlets: Azure, La Fontaine, La Trattoria, Oriental, The Beach Pavilion, Hayman Pool Bar, The Club Lounge
Conferencing: Entertainment Centre (544sqm), Conference Centre (250sqm), Planters (285sqm), The Boardroom (12 pax)
Recreation facilities: Activities Centre, Marine Centre, Spa Hayman, Kids Club and Crèche