All of a sudden Ani Villas on Koh Yao Noi was all over People, Instyle and Yahoo. “Absolutely stunning,” said the Daily Mail, picturing Ani Villas from on high.
What Aaron Paul did for his wife’s birthday is what rising numbers of travellers the world over, celebrity and non-celebrity alike, are doing in recognition of birthdays and other milestone moments on the journey from cradle to grave.
It used to be that people might splurge for a big destination wedding. But these days birthdays are edging out weddings as the reason people come together and rent out an entire resort. Which is what you get at Ani Villas, a private resort that books only one party on property at a time.
Indeed, Bloomberg Pursuits in November ran a story that pointed out how more and more people wanted an entire resort for their own getaway. “Forget private villas,” Bloomberg said. Guests now want the entire resort to themselves.
“Private resorts are a relatively new concept,” said Ani Villas CEO, Ira Bloom.
“Until fairly recently, those who wanted the exclusivity of a private estate and all of the human resources of a hotel have been obliged to buy out an entire resort of say 50-plus rooms – limiting the option to royalty and titans of industry.
“Our collection, including our 10-bedroom estate on Koh Yao Noi, delivers this same experience to a broader market – with greater value compared to taking 10 bedrooms at a five-star resort.
Ani Villas are staffed with a dedicated general manager, an executive chef, spa therapist, bartender, housekeeping staff and grounds crew.
Given the private resort’s design pedigree, inspired settings and spare-no-expense budget on everything from marble to high-thread-count sheets, an apt comparison are Adrian Zecha’s Aman Resorts. But at Ani Villas, everyone knows your name, and you’ll know everyone’s name, too.
In line with the “it’s all yours” slogan that the resort touts, stays at Ani Villas include all food, drink, spa and other on-site leisure pursuits from cooking classes and children’s arts and crafts to personal training and paddle boarding.
Nightly rates with these inclusions start at US$4,000 (about B143,760) in low season for up to eight guests and rise to $16,000 (about B575,000) for 30 guests over the holidays.
The private resort concept taps a growing trend among groups of people who want to vacation in company, though not with strangers. Ten years ago, the travel industry minted a phrase to describe the movement – togethering – and there’s been nothing but momentum ever since.
One New York-based consultancy group earlier this year found that nearly half of the top one per cent of US travellers plan to vacation with friends, 41 per cent with kids and almost a third as part of a multi-generation party. Research released by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) this year shows that three of every four adults over 45 plan to observe a life milestone on holiday with friends.
Tim Reynolds, a one-time Wall Street trader, founded Ani Villas in Anguilla in 2010 as a bold new move in the realm of hospitality, and as a complement to a philanthropic mission. For every private resort, there is an Ani Art Academy, an independent school that’s fully funded by the Tim Reynolds Foundation and that offers a free, comprehensive drawing and painting program to communities surrounding each private resort, and at two additional locations in the United States.
The Ani Art Academy on Koh Yao Noi opened in 2015 together with the private resort.
Ani Villas also opened in Sri Lanka at the end of last year, with their fourth private resort now slated to open in the summer of 2017 in the Dominican Republic.
For more information or bookings visit: www.anivillas.com