Among the jewels of the luxury hotel industry, Aman stood out from the start with a very unique positioning; intimate addresses in perfect harmony with their environment, many in remote locations, where the brand champions the local culture.
This singularity, in the new era we are entering, makes the brand stand out as industry leaders in the creation of safe and responsible travel. Among the departments where these issues have the most impact is, of course, F&B. Ivan Haller, Global Head of F&B Operations, talks to us today about his role within Aman, the axes developed by the brand, but also about one of the most anticipated openings of the year, their second urban address, Aman New York.
Aman New York
Vendom.jobs - Tell us about your position at Aman.
Ivan Haller – I manage the F&B operations at Aman , which includes its developments and innovations. I am part of the Sustainable Executive Committee, as well as the Data Governance Planning Committee. Our position and main focus is to develop trends, with a major focus on sustainability and data governance which are also very important themes within Aman. We want to ensure that guests feel safe. Aman in Sanskrit means “peace”, so we also want to really provide a sense of peace and ‘peace of mind’ to our guests.
V.J. - What drove you to towards this career?
I. H. – I do not view my work simply as a job, hospitality is my passion., I’ve always enjoyed taking care of people, exploring new concepts and thinking about how we can innovate and provide new and exceptional experiences to our guests. Particularly now within a corporate role, I can infuse this into operational guidelines to ensure that the team on the ground deliver experiences in this spirit.
V.J. - Having worked across several continents, what have you learned from these experiences with regards to your area of expertise?
I. H. – Indeed, I have travelled a lot for work and also in my free time, with my family. We always try to discover new places, as it really helps you to open your mind and see the world from a different perspective. Working in various locations broadens your creativity and knowledge which is essential when working for an international brand, and helps greatly when dealing with guests, colleagues and suppliers from different cultural backgrounds. My travels have really given me an insight into different cultures; what makes an individual unique, how to communicate with, show respect and understand people from all corners of the world. It has also enabled me to successfully collaborate with team members, and ensure everyone is able to input their ideas and share their opinions.
Amanzoe, Kranidi, Greece
VJ. – How would you define Aman’s DNA?
I. H. –Aman was founded in 1988 with the vision of building a collection of intimate retreats, each with the unassuming, warm hospitality of a gracious private home. You come as a guest and leave as a friend; you feel welcomed and taken care of. A global pioneer in the creation of peaceful sanctuaries far removed from daily life, Aman has always emphasised space as paramount and caters to a limited number of guests.
Even when the resorts are operating at high occupancy, you will always feel you’re in a peaceful sanctuary. It’s really the sense of space, seclusion and privacy that our guests appreciate, and that makes Aman so unique.
V.J. - Could you tell us about the project you worked on recently, Janu? How does it fit into Aman's philosophy?
I. H. - Janu is a new hotel brand which offers a pioneering new direction in hospitality, creating environments which nurture purposeful connection to bring balance to the head and rekindle the soul. Janu shares its DNA with its elder sister, Aman, in the form of total commitment to its guests, deep roots in destination, exemplary and timeless design and unparalleled service. Whilst Aman offers refined respite, Janu offers an energetic vibe for those seeking greater purpose and connectedness. The first Janu will open in Tokyo, followed by Montenegro and Al Ula in Saudi Arabia, with more openings planned in the future.
V.J. - Could you share with us the upcoming developments you are working on?
I. H. – One which is very dear to my heart is Aman New York which will open later this year in the iconic Crown Building. Aman New York will offer unparalleled service, world class dining and entertainment venues, a comprehensive Aman Spa, and exclusive branded residences – the very first urban Aman Residences worldwide. The crowning glory will be its broad selection of buzzy public spaces and social venues including the 10th-floor wraparound Garden Terrace encompassing a bar with panoramic views of Central Park, and a Cigar Bar. There will be two restaurants, including Aman’s Japanese culinary concept, Nama, plus the Wine Library and a subterranean Jazz Club.
V.J. - The crisis has caused many sectors to take a significant turn, particularly in the service and gastronomy sector. What do you think will be the ethics of your profession tomorrow?
I. H. - We have seen a lot of changes in the hospitality industry in the last 18 months. In many ways, Aman’s generosity of space and efforts to slow down time have always been firmly ingrained in its DNA from the architecture and design of standalone pavilions, to the low room count and subtle yet intuitive service which now makes us a blueprint for the future of travel. We are primed for new challenges ahead of us. New generations have expectations, and we continue to plan for the future, anticipating the needs and desires of our guests and nurturing talent to help us grow.
Our goal is to foster talent in training, offering a vision of what they can achieve and how they can grow at Aman. Our staff is one of our biggest assets as they deliver the level of service for which we are known. It’s important to ensure that we have the right talent in place and that we are committed to their development and wellbeing. At Aman, you are really treated like family.
It is up to us to guide the future professionals and support their growth and development to ensure that it benefits both the team member, as well as the company as a whole.
Amanera, Playa Grande, Dominican Republic
V.J. – Could you tell us more about Aman’s current engagement regarding sustainability and preservation?
I. H. – My work across the past year has focused heavily on implementing our sustainability strategy for our food and beverage operations. With this in mind, the move to majority organic and sustainable ingredients across all Aman F&B outlets has been carefully planned to be implemented globally in 2021. Our teams at every across the globe have started sourcing menu ingredients from local suppliers with a target of 75% of all ingredients to be sourced this way in the coming year. Wider plans include the decision for every hotel to have (where geographically possible) their own organic garden / herb garden and seek fair-trade certified products in line with Aman’s ethos of supporting its surrounding communities. Further, we aim to eliminate the use of plastic straws and bottles by the end of 2021, in addition to reducing foods of animal origin and fish species identified as at risk. With this strong focus on sustainability, Aman’s collaboration with three-Michelin Star Chef Norbert Niederkolfer developed further across the course of 2020. Continuing his work as a Consultant Chef for the brand, in 2021, Norbert will host a series of dinners at Aman Venice, showcasing his sustainable style alongside assisting with the sustainable initiatives which hope to take Aman’s F&B offering to new heights.
V.J. – Do you have any special memories at Aman you could share with us?
I. H – All the properties are amazing, but I think my most memorable experience so far is witnessing the development of Aman New York. Seeing where it started in 2018 and where it is now gives me goose bumps! Being in one of the most iconic cities in the world, I think the experience we will offer in New York is ahead of its time. Although the hotel is not yet open, I anticipate it will follow in the trailblazing footsteps of Aman Tokyo, the brand’s first urban hotel launched in 2014, and will offer an incredible experience for our guests, in one of the finest corners of the world.
(Photo credit: Aman)