Hotelier inspired by Angelina Jolie to expand into Namibia
Following a suggestion made by actress Angelina Jolie to set up shop in Namibia, when she stayed at Phum Baitang in Cambodia the first hotel created by Arnaud Zannier, the hotelier is now smitten with the idea after Jolies persuasion.
Jolie was making a Netflix film in Namibia, that Zannier seriously started thinking of seeking out the project in Namibia but with a visit first. The company already owns Le Chalet by Zannier in Megeve, France, and Phum Baitang, which opened in Siem Reap, Cambodia in 2015.
Zannier’s plans for the local hotel include a lodge on a huge 9,000 hectare reserve outside Windhoek focused on elephant and rhino conservation and a 6,000 hectare project in the south, near the famous sand dunes of Sossusvlei, where Zannier plans to open a tented lodge. The first lodge will open in June 2018, followed by the second one in September.
“I wasn’t even sure that was the direction we were going in as such a young company, but the developer was very keen to work with us, so here we are,” Zannier said. “It’s a very exciting concept , there is nothing else like this on the hotel scene in the city.”
“It’s just about opportunities,” he told tourism and travel website, Travel Trade Gazette. “We’re a small team and we manage what we can at the moment, but if the right projects come along, we are always open to them. But we do also now have someone in the business who is proactively seeking opportunities.”
“Namibia was an incredible discovery for me – I was so impressed by the nature and the fact that you are completely cut off from the outside world,” Zannier said. But before seeking out the Namibian experience, Zannier Hotels is opening another hotel, 1898 The Post, in the Belgian city of Ghent, where Zannier and his company are based.
The Belgian hotel will be the first management contract for the group, which Zannier said could be a future avenue of development.
And Ghent itself is really coming of age, it’s where Antwerp was 10 years ago. Lots of businesses are based there, its full of history and amazing architecture – which the local government is investing in – and it’s the number one student town in Belgium, which all make it very exciting I think, plus, it’s becoming a real foodie destination.”
The hotel has 38 rooms and is inside a former post office building, with the heart of the hotel being The Cobbler, a bar and dining area.
Also in the pipeline for the brand is a 71-room hotel north of Nah Trang in central Vietnam. The resort sits on a pristine stretch of Bai Tram beach and will have three restaurants, kids club and space for up to 45 residential villas.
Zannier added a hotel in Myanmar would also be of interest in the future and has not ruled out any further management opportunities on projects.