5 questions for Harry Apostolides,Vice President of Business Development, Como Hotels and Resorts
COMO Hotels and Resorts recently opened its second location in Bhutan, Uma by COMO, Punakha. What do you think is making this country such a compelling destination right now?
Bhutan has a rich culture and intriguing traditions, which have been preserved due to its isolation from the rest of the world until the early sixties. Tourist restrictions are still in place, continuing to prevent the modern world from having too much of an impact. From the soaring mountains to numerous festivals to beautiful Dzong architecture, there is much to soak up and experience. A trip of less than seven nights wouldn’t do it justice.
The design of COMO properties is inspired by location. How so at Punakha? Who are some of the designers you’ve collaborated with on the brand’s portfolio?
Uma by COMO is situated on a hillside in the lush Punakha Valley. Whether in the spa, suite, or restaurant terrace, the eleven-room lodge offers stunning views of the valley from every angle. Singaporean architect Cheong Yew Kuan, who was also involved in our wellness resort, COMO Shambhala Estate in Bali, was behind the design. Italian designer Paola Navone is creating interiors for Point Yamu by COMO in Phuket, Thailand, and our property in Miami, both opening later this year.
While COMO’s arrival in Phuket—as well as a return to the Maldives in Maalefushi—are greatly anticipated for 2013, your Miami debut marks a turning point for the brand: the first time it’s planting its roots in the U.S.
Miami is a key market for all our COMO properties globally, so it’s great to have a property on the ground to showcase.
How is COMO responding to an ever-shifting definition of luxury?
Each of our properties embraces the destination. At Uma Paro in Bhutan you can trek with a COMO guide through the scenic Himalayas on the way to the ninth century ‘Tiger’s Nest,’ and at Cocoa Island in the Maldives, dive aficionados can explore pristine reefs with our experienced dive guides.
Spas are vital to the COMO culture. What makes the experience different from others?
Shambhala refers to a sacred place of bliss. Our concept proposes that such tranquility isn’t found in any specific location, but with the right tools it can be discovered within oneself, by exploring body, mind, and spirit. We chose each of our retreat locations for their unique sense of peace, from the pine forests of Bhutan to overlooking Bali’s rice paddies.