Travel industry veteran Mike Bonner joined One&Only Resorts’ team as the newly appointed vice president of marketing last month after working for more than two decades in various sales and marketing positions at well-recognized cruise and hospitality companies, including Celebrity Cruises, Maybourne Hotel Group, and most recently, Silversea Cruises. At One&Only Resorts, where Bonner is responsible for all of the brand’s global marketing, which includes online and offline channels, customer relationship management, direct marketing, creative services and brand partnerships. Recommend spoke with Bonner about his future plans for the company’s marketing division, upcoming resort openings and how One&Only Resorts plans to advance in today’s rapidly evolving, technology-driven global business environment.
Melissa Bryant (MB): Tell me a little bit about your past experience with Silversea Cruises and the Maybourne Hotel Group.
Mike Bonner (MB): My career in the travel and hospitality industry started back in 1994 when I was fortunate enough to get my first job as a sales and marketing assistant at Celebrity Cruises in their London office. After five years, I moved to Silversea, which at the time had only just entered the cruise market. In a few years we had set the benchmark for luxury cruising. I initially spent just over seven years with Silversea in various marketing roles and was responsible for delivering marketing programs to the company’s international markets. It was at Silversea that I really learned about the luxury consumer. However, it was in 2006 that I had my first opportunity to work in the hospitality sector and it was a role that I could not afford to decline.
I joined Maybourne Hotel Group (Claridge’s, the Connaught and the Berkeley in London) as director of marketing overseeing all aspects of marketing for the iconic collection of world-renowned hotels. I felt a huge amount of responsibility in the knowledge that I was helping to evolve the brands to preserve them for the future, yet respecting the heritage that had created the reputation of these properties. In 2011, I returned to Silversea in a broader commercial role to run the company’s UK office in London. As general manager I was responsible for all commercial activity including marketing, sales, public relations and customer services for the line’s second largest market. However, having had a taste of the hospitality sector I always knew that one day I would be back.
MB: Why did you decide to join One&Only Resorts’ team?
MB: One&Only has been a brand that I have always followed and admired. It has earned an enviable reputation globally, with consumers and trade alike, as being an innovator in the sector that continually strives to put the guest at the heart of its culture, and to deliver memorable experiences in a highly personalized fashion. It is this attention to detail and understanding of our guests’ needs that has enabled One&Only to stay at the forefront of the luxury hotel sector. I am a marketer at heart and I am very proud to join such an innovative team that really understands the lifestyles of our guests and aims to create carefully crafted programs and amenities that truly resonate with our guests.
MB What are some of your responsibilities as the vice president of marketing?
MB: I am responsible for all aspects of global marketing for the One&Only resorts—from branding and identity development to digital, customer relationship management (CRM) and creative services. The global marketing team is based in our corporate office in Dubai, but we work closely with the general managers and resort teams to ensure that we are delivering programs at a group level and also meeting the needs of the individual resorts. Part of the success of the group has been to reflect the individual nature of our resorts. My goal is to continue to create campaigns and activities that build on this platform, yet strive to innovate and capture the imagination of our guests and trade partners.
MB: Do you have any new marketing initiatives/programs in the works?
MB: The challenge for any luxury brand today is how to engage with consumers in an increasingly digital world, without compromising core values. Over the coming months, One&Only will be evaluating all of our programs to ensure that we remain relevant, not only to our current guests, but also with future guests. In order to do that effectively, we need to understand the guests’ journey and ensure that we provide content and communication that serves their needs. As part of that strategy, we will soon launch a new website that enables guests to search for information about our resorts in an intuitive manner. At the same time, the website will fully reflect the values of the brand and the unique identity of each resort. It will also serve as a cornerstone for our digital platform as we look to enhance our presence across social and mobile platforms. However, we will continue to balance our online presence with more traditional means of communication creating programs and initiatives that will always strive to deliver creative and innovative content that engages and inspires our guests.
MB: Who would you say is One&Only Resorts’ targeted clientele?
MB: One&Only’s global footprint reflects the worldly nature of our guests. Our aim is to provide them with a relaxing experience in an environment which is sophisticated, yet comfortable in surroundings that feel exclusive and elegant.
MB: What can you tell me about the five new One&Only resorts being built in Sanya and Hainan, China, Montenegro, Bahrain, and Mexico?
MB: This is an exciting time for One&Only as we enter a phase of growth. One&Only Bahrain will be our first Middle Eastern resort outside of Dubai and will offer approximately 150 luxurious guestrooms and suites along with villas, world-class dining and retail options, plus a One&Only Spa. Located in Seef, on the northwest coast of Bahrain, the resort is set to become a destination for both business and leisure, and will evoke a “sense of place,” showcasing Bahrain’s rich history and reflecting the local culture with a design appeal to attract the contemporary traveler seeking the ultimate in luxury.
One&Only Sanya is located on Hainan, a South China Sea island, which boasts a balmy, year-round tropical climate, making it an ideal holiday destination. The island’s rich historical tapestry will be reflected throughout the resort, featuring approximately 190 guestrooms and villas. World-class cuisine will showcase regional specialties whilst the indulgent One&Only Spa will channel the calming spirit of Sanya’s traditions.
The first One&Only resort in Europe will be One&Only Portonovi, which is sure to captivate with a stunning destination overlooking the Adriatic Sea in Montenegro. Located in the Bay of Kotor, the resort is positioned at the entrance to Tivat Bay on a 60-acre site overlooking mountain and sea and will have approximately 120 guestrooms and villas, which will reflect the rich natural elements of Montenegro.
One&Only Mandarina is located on Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit, approximately 30 miles north of Puerto Vallarta’s airport and will offer approximately 145 luxurious villas as well as private residential estates. A wide variety of spectacular accommodations will include Ocean Cliff Villas, Tree House Villas and Mountain Villas—all emphasizing privacy and spectacular vistas.
Finally, One&Only Santa Maria a de Xala will be part of a new 2965-acre development located approximately 60 miles south of Puerto Vallarta’s international airport. The resort will offer approximately 75 luxury villas and suites with private pools and will command five miles of impressive beachfront. All of our new resorts will feature hallmarks of the One&Only experience, such as world-class cuisine and restaurants overseen by internationally acclaimed chefs whilst also showcasing regionally inspired culinary experiences, as well as the indulgent, One&Only Spas, which will channel the calming spirit of our resorts’ unique locations.
MB: How will these One&Only Resorts change the hotel landscape in their respective destinations?
MB: One&Only has always created an individual style and personality in every destination in which we are located—each resort complements the traditions, people and crafts of its location. Our guests want to feel a sense of authenticity from the moment they arrive. They come to discover the identity, culture and customs of a chosen destination whether it be the exotic allure of Dubai, the natural elegance of the Maldives and Mauritius, the serene beauty of the Caribbean, the awe-inspiring wonders of Australia, or the extraordinary drama of the Baja peninsula.
MB: What is one aspect, consistent with all One&Only Resorts, that travel agents should be sure to mention when planning a vacation to a One&Only Resorts’ property with their clients?
MB: All One&Only resorts are unique and are very much grounded in their locations. However, there are hallmarks at every One&Only resort—it would be hard to distill just one characteristic that is common to all resorts as One&Only is so much more than that. The architecture, interiors and detailing of each resort tells its own individual story, but all One&Only resorts are beautifully designed to reflect the uniqueness of their surroundings and to create incredible, unforgettable experiences. Accommodations are always sumptuously designed and spacious with stunning bathrooms and amenities. Restaurants and bars have rare character with imaginative cuisines from each region and around the globe, and many are presided over by the world’s top chefs. Serene spas and state-of-the-art fitness centers are sanctuaries of wellbeing, while pristine beaches and pools offer both relaxation and activity.
For more information, visit oneandonlyresorts.com.