Luxury Resort Operator Aman has Launched a New Brand, Janu

Main Photo: The new Aman brand, Janu

Date: March 2020

Locations: The first three: Tokyo; Sveti Stefan, Montenegro; and the archaeologically rich city of Al Ula, Saudi Arabia.

Name: Janu

No. of Keys: TBA

Seller: TBA

Buyer: Considered by many to be the most luxurious hotel company in the world, Aman is spinning off a second brand 32 years after becoming a standard-setter, with properties set to open in 2022. Called Janu, it looks to be a little more fun, a lot less secluded, almost equally high-end, and about 30% more affordable.

“Listening to our guests and to travel professionals, I think we have really identified a gap in the market,” says Roland Fasel, Aman’s chief operating officer, speaking exclusively to Bloomberg from his office in London ahead of the official announcement. “On one extreme you have the Amans of the world – ultra-luxury resorts, which offer a sort of spiritual experience. And on the other side, you have lifestyle-driven brands,” which he considers to trade some amount of comfort for the sake of accessibility.

Those lifestyle hotels—such as Edition, 1 Hotels, or Nomad—can certainly be high-end, but they need to be more affordable than top-tier luxury brands to lure a young-and-energetic target audience. And they can’t be too exclusive if they want to draw in and capitalise on the buzz of the local community.

“Nobody in the luxury space has explored the middle ground between them,” Fasel says. He envisions Janu as a place where guests can commingle at morning yoga classes, on property-led street art tours, or at an array of restaurants and bars, some of which will have DJs and live entertainment throughout the week. All of this would be housed in a single mid-rise building—generally six or seven stories tall—offering about 120 guest rooms and a staff-to-guest ratio of 3 to 1 – compare that to Aman’s 6-to-1 ratio.

This playbook, standard operating procedure for trendy hotels and resorts these days, represents a sharp departure for Aman. The company’s fame rests on very small, precious, and exclusive properties, where each of around 40 bungalows or casitas is physically separate from its neighbor. Aman room rates average $1,400 a night; Janu will hover in the $1,000-per-night range—several hundred dollars higher than the lifestyle brands its hoping to one-up.

Aman is a brand that’s reaching a ceiling. “There are only so many places where you can deliver on the level of Aman, 45 to 48 locations are probably the maximum at this particular moment,” says Fasel. With 41 hotels either open or in the pipeline, Aman is nearly at that max.

Janu isn’t just the company’s second act—it’s possibly the only way forward for one of the biggest names in the industry.

“Twenty years ago, luxury was defined by brass fixtures and marble lobbies,” says Oscar Yuan, president of Strategy3, the branding consultancy and innovation lab owned by Ipsos. Now its definition is expanding by the day to capture more and more unique segments, be it in fashion, aviation, food, or hospitality.

“We live in a world where the Ritz-Carlton and the Equinox Hotel can both charge $700 a night by playing on different axes of luxury, one that’s more about white-glove service and one that’s more modern and fitness-driven,” says Yuan. “The more variations we can pinpoint on what luxury means to different people, the more that the entire industry is positioned to grow.”

For Janu, that means catering to a younger, tech-minted nouveau riche who seek out nightlife and midday meditation in the same 24-hour cycle. Bringing ultra-luxury to the party-pamper-and-repeat set is an original idea, but it’s also inherently difficult to execute. Rosewood is one of the few to attempt it (successfully, so far) with a speakeasy-style bar in Los Cabos, Mexico, and fashion week events at the Crillon’s Bar Les Ambassadeurs, where even the Beastie Boys’ Mike D has spun records.

“The key,” says Yuan, “is defining what aspects you’re going after so that you don’t cannibalise one brand with the other.”

This gets summed up by the brands’ names: Aman means “peace” in Sanskrit while Janu means “soul.”

“Together they offer a total solution for the fluctuating needs and desires of today’s global travel cognoscenti,” says company Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Vladislav Doronin, explaining why Aman’s execs felt comfortable they weren’t cannibalising their own business by opening Janu’s first three locations in destinations where Aman is the competition.

THPT Comment: Brave new world for Aman – we’re sure they will do well with Janu…

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