Last updated: 11:56 AM ET, Wed July 01 2015

Outrigger Continues Five-Star Expansion in the Maldives

Hotel & Resort | Outrigger Hotels & Resorts | James Ruggia | March 23, 2015

Outrigger Continues Five-Star Expansion in the Maldives

PHOTO: The Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort is coming in August. (Courtesy of Outrigger)

Outrigger hoisted its first flags outside of Hawaii in the Marshall Islands in 1996, Palau in 1998 and Guam in 1999.  Since then the company has made the Asia Pacific region its main arena for growth. “We realized then, that the Asia Pacific region was the place to expand,” said Mark Simmons, Outrigger’s vice president of sales & marketing Asia Pacific. “We opened in Fiji 15 years ago, and then came Australia where we now have four properties: two in Thailand, last year we opened in Mauritius and we’ll be opening in the Maldives in August.”

When it completes its renovation in August, the Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort will join the Outrigger Mauritius Resort and Spa as one of two Indian Ocean Outrigger properties. “We own the island and we will bring our own kind of hotel to the Maldives,” said Simmons. “The Maldives are known for ultra-luxury products and that’s fine, but we are not in that space of selling $2,000 per night vacations. Our resort will be a premium five-star property.”

From its beginning in 1947, when mass tourism first began going in Hawaii, Outrigger was positioned as a budget alternative, but from there the brand continued to lift itself in the marketplace until it arrived where it is now at the high end of the deluxe or premier part of the market. In 67 years of business, the company seems to have found an ideal identity for an extremely successful growth strategy.

Outrigger’s Hawaii base was exactly the right place to have the critical mass of properties if your intention was to grow in the Asia Pacific. Hawaii has been a model for resort development throughout the region. The China National Tourism Administration, for instance, often referred to Hainan Island, in the early stages of its tourism development, as “China’s answer to Hawaii.” Thus it’s very fitting that Outrigger will be opening the Outrigger Clearwater Bay Resort on Hainan in 2018.

Inbound tourists to Hawaii from Asia and Oceania became familiar with the brand and now they’re some of the company’s most loyal markets in Hawaii and elsewhere. Only 58 percent of Outrigger’s guests come from North America. Japan provides about 19 percent of the chain’s guests. “We expect our property in the Maldives to get between 5 and 10 percent of its business from the U.S.,” said Simmons.

Located within the Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll of the Maldives, Konotta Island lies a little more than 200 miles from Malé, the capital and gateway. The Outrigger Konotta Maldives Resort will have 27 beachfront one- and two-bedroom pool villas and 21 overwater pool villas as well as a full range of facilities and services including new dining concepts, a marine education center, a Navasana Spa and retail outlets.

With properties due in the Maldives, Vietnam and Hainan Island, the company is still scouting out new possibilities to add to its inventory. According to Simmons, Outrigger is interested in such locations as Bali, Palau, Sri Lanka, the Seychelles and the Philippines. “The first essential criteria,” said Simmons “is absolute beachfront.”

Outrigger operates under several brands, especially its newly launched Outrigger Resorts brand and its Ohana Hotels and Resorts and Hawaii Vacation Condos. It also operates the Ala Moana Hotel and the Kapalua Villas on Maui. The Outrigger Resorts brand is where the primary growth is taking place and features properties in Hawaii, Australia, Fiji, Guam, Thailand, Mauritius and the coming properties in the Maldives, Hainan, Vietnam and beyond.

Outrigger’s Expert Agent program has about 6,500 members at this point. “We’ve had good success with the program,” said Simmons. “It gives us a vast sales team of agents with strong product knowledge.”

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