Trade Talk: Marco Den Ouden of Patina Maldives, Fari Islands

The General Manager of the soon-to-open resort elaborates on the ethos of the new Patina brand and what guests can expect at its debut property.

All photos courtesy of Patina Hotels and Resorts

Before taking up your current role, you served as GM at Soneva Jani. What made you decide to stay on in the Maldives?

The Maldives is truly one of the most beautiful places in the world, and is a beacon for the possibilities of luxury and experiential travel. When the opportunity arose to join such a progressive new concept — Patina Maldives, Fari Islands — whilst still calling this incredible place my home, it was a no-brainer for me!

 

Patina Maldives, Fari Islands is slated to debut in Q2 this year. Has a definitive opening date been set? And what can you tell us about the room count and on-site facilities at this stage?

We will open our property in May this year.

Patina Maldives, Fari Islands was designed by renowned architect, Marcio Kogan, and boasts 90 beach and water villas, which range from one to three bedrooms, as well as 20 one-bedroom studios.

Patina Maldives is located on the Fari Islands, an elevated Maldivian resort experience that celebrates nature, craft, and connection and is anchored by three world-class hospitality brands. The archipelago features the picturesque Fari Marina, built around a vibrant Fari Beach Club, charming boutiques, and a selection of handpicked upscale food and beverage options, so guests will have the freedom to move between the islands and make the most of these experiences.

No effort has been spared in ensuring that Patina Maldives provides guests with sustainable yet nutritious cuisine; our plant-based restaurant, Roots, will bring together seasonality, nutritional quality, and the inherent freshness of whole-food and raw-food vegetarian cuisine, catering to the needs of a growing trend to consume more health conscious and plant-based diets.

This will be complemented by a selection of 11 other high-end and casual F&B destinations around our beautiful island.

Fueling the body does not stop at nutrition — our rooms and villas are made for thoughtful moments for the spirit and mind. The rooms include meditation packs consisting of a yoga mat, aromatherapy, and in-villa tutorials. The property will be home to a myriad of health professionals — posture experts will analyze and recalibrate movement to maximize wellbeing; physiotherapists will help reset, restore, and realign muscular and skeletal issues; nutritionists will share understanding of diet and food to boost dietary intelligence.

Our guests will also have access to the aforementioned Fari Marina. Fari Islands will push the boundaries of Maldivian hospitality, pursuing creative collaborations with renowned names in art, music, culinary arts, photography, fashion, and design.

 

An artist’s impression of Patina Maldives, Fari Islands.

What are a few of the biggest challenges when it comes to opening a new hotel in this current crisis?

It’s no secret that the past year has been one of the most challenging in the memories of most hoteliers, but I’ve been proud to be a part of the industry as I’ve witnessed my colleagues globally come together and be united in our shared passion to create incredible experiences and elevate our industry to new norms.

In terms of challenges surrounding the opening of Patina Maldives, Fari Islands, one of the main issues we faced was delays in supply chains. Additionally, we’ve spent a lot of time internally researching and rethinking on how the post-Covid traveler will feel and what they will look for in their travel experiences so we can ensure we cater to this and are ready to welcome guests when the time is right.

We’re extremely thankful for the support of the Capella Hotel Group team, who have been invaluable in sharing their own insights and experiences to help us through this process.

 

Renderings of Fari Marina Village (left) and Fari Beach Club (right).

Health and safety will continue to be a major concern going forward. Do you think that will change the communal aspect of Fari Islands, where guests can hop between different resorts? 

Fari Islands is an elevated Maldivian resort experience with three world-class resorts, a vibrant Marina, and a high-energy beach club which are all within a 10-minute boat ride from one another, which expand the offerings and experiences beyond the realm of a singular island.

The beauty of the Fari Islands experience is that guests will be able to be as much a part of the community as they wish — many may choose to tap into the personalized aspects that our island offers in our multitude of venues as well as generous villas, whilst others will no doubt be making the most of the archipelago, traveling between the islands to enjoy all that is on offer.

Either is encouraged; as mentioned, Patina Maldives is designed to accommodate guests as they go about their personal routines, in both sanctuary and stimulation.

 

An artist’s impression of a Two Bedroom Sunset Water Pool villa at the resort.

The Maldives is one of the few countries in Asia now welcoming foreign visitors. What are the key target markets for you in the short and medium term? 

Yes, in terms of hotels and resorts in the Maldives, the majority of them lend themselves rather well to social distancing — that’s one of the key reasons many choose to visit, after all — which is why the country has been able to continue to welcome foreign tourists.

We see an increased global appeal to the Maldives, with literally travelers from all continents. As mentioned above, the distance, privacy, and insular configuration of the Maldives resorts, paired with strong guidance and governance towards international travelers, continuous to build a strong confidence and demand for our stunning destination.

Obviously different seasons bring different travelers to our property and country, but we see strong demand from all markets including Asia, the Middle East, Europe, North America, and South America.

 

A One Bedroom Beach Pool villa at Patina Maldives, Fari Islands.

Patina Maldives has been built to a biophilic design by Brazilian architect Marcio Kogan. How will it inspire a closer connection to nature?

In line with his vision to incorporate nature into the design of Patina Maldives, Marcio and his team used some key design tactics:

  • Architectural lines were kept intentionally low so as not to breach the horizon, enabling guests to take in sights of nature’s encompassing blues
  • Lush landscaping was used to envelope each of the villas and studios in their own private sanctuary with minimal obstruction of key vistas
  • Each villa and studio unfolds into the surrounding island, creating a simultaneous feeling of isolation and belonging
  • Communal spaces are open, light, and inviting
  • Property interiors use earthy colour palettes, subtle textures, and matte surfaces. Natural materials — such as wood, linen, rattan, paper cord, and stone — draw on the outside world, creating a close-to-nature feel
  • Uniquely for Patina Maldives, floor-to-ceiling Panoramah! sliding window systems allow our villas to be opened to the elements on all three sides. Natural light floods each room, aiding in the regulation of our guests’ circadian rhythms

This conscious design, combined with human-centered elements and complemented with intuitive service, makes Patina Maldives the ideal destination for guests to nurture a deep appreciation of nature and community while encouraging them to build genuine connections with themselves and their surroundings.

 

The Portico, Patina Maldives’ beachside lounge and reception area.

What other features set the property apart from other private-island retreats in the Maldives? 

Patina is a luxury brand that offers a more sophisticated lifestyle experience for the young at heart, pushing beyond the boundaries of what is usually expected of more traditional hotels. It is aimed at a new generation of progressive travelers, who have a deep appreciation for wellbeing, conscious living, and non-conventional experiences while never wanting to sacrifice the level of service found at ultra-luxury hotels.

Patina Hotels and Resorts have been designed for those who seek meaningful connections with both themselves and the world around them, providing for guests needs and respecting their individuality. Patina is committed to offering a surprising and dynamic experience, and we hope to let the brand evolve naturally, with Patina Maldives to pave the way with us innovating new concepts that are borne out of our guests’ ever-evolving needs.

 

The Beach House will be a three-bedroom villa with a 21-meter pool.

One of Patina’s aims is to positively impact the local community. How can guests give back to the Maldives during their stay?

An emerging generation of travelers are redefining luxury — no longer focused on polished experiences, fine dining, and a degree of predictability that comes when staying in traditional hotels. Eco-conscious travel has become the new norm.

These modern-day travelers are increasingly concerned with their own impact on the world, monitoring their own consumption, expenditure and actions in order to “do their part.” They want to nurture a deeper connection within themselves and society, by spending their time responsibly in a place that allows them to fully immerse and impact the community and the regions they visit.

Patina Maldives has established partnerships and relationships with several causes to enable our guests to give back to the Maldives during their time with us.

One example is the Olive Ridley Project, which is committed to protecting sea turtles and their habitat. Guests are encouraged to learn more about the threats facing these turtles and the important work the Olive Ridley Project does in tracking and identifying the turtles of the Indian Ocean.

We’re also offering guests the opportunity to get involved in our coral propagation program, which helps to build up a habitat for underwater life, as well as collaborating with the likes of Parley for the Oceans, to organize beach clean-ups to strengthen conservation efforts within the Maldives.

In the coming weeks, Patina Maldives will announce more collaborations that encourage kinship between the local community and our guests, as well as memorable activities that reinforce Patina’s positive impact on people and places through art, music, and design.

 

Inside a minimalistic bedroom of The Beach House.

How do you think the ethos of the Patina brand will resonate with post-pandemic travelers?

Post-COVID, travel experts have forecasted a change in consumer appetite and demands, predicting  that there will be a surge in interest for eco-conscious travels with travel-for-good intentions, off-the-grid and exclusive experiences, as well as higher demand for outdoor experiences. Travelers will be eager to rediscover their personal perspective on the world around them — having spent so much time in their own small part of it — and Patina Maldives will be ready to welcome them.

Our team has conceptualized thoughtful brand pillars that will be the cornerstone of the Patina experience — Perpetuality (sustainability), Sustenance (healthy nutrition), Kinsfolk (community), and Balance (wellbeing), to name a few. Each of these ties in with the predicted desires of the post-pandemic traveler, and we are very much looking forward to welcoming them soon.

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