Having developed and managed luxury properties across 30 countries, CEO of Half Moon Bay Antigua, William Anderson, talks to Can Faik about the future of hospitality in exclusive settings...
William Anderson, CEO of Half Moon Bay Antigua, has conceptualised, developed and managed luxury resorts and holiday residential developments across 30 countries including Jumby Bay Island Antigua and destinations in the Aman Resorts and Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts portfolio.
Situated on 132 acres, the exclusive community of Half Moon Bay Antigua is comprised of the new Rosewood Half Moon Bay, opening in 2022, and a limited collection of premier estate lots and Rosewood branded residences.
What is your position at Half Moon Bay?
I am CEO of Half Moon Bay Antigua, the intimate new resort and residential community being developed in the south east of the island. The resort is comprised of a handful of premier estate lots that in 2022 will be joined by the new 47-suite Rosewood Half Moon Bay and a collection of branded residences, set to launch at the end of the year.
What does your current position involve?
I’m leading every aspect of the development of the resort. This involves working very closely with our designer Studio Piet Boon and our architects OBMI as we finalise designs, working with contractors as we begin construction and appointing the partners who will curate our guest experiences such as the executive chef who will be creating the most wonderful signature restaurant offering. And of course, working closely with Rosewood Hotels and Resorts who will be operating the resort. In my role I’m also guardian of the natural beauty of Half Moon Bay, preserving its environment for future generations. We’re taking extensive measures to fully regenerate the entire acreage and surrounding environment – from restoring the soil to rebuilding the coral reef – before commencing construction. We will be one of the first resorts in the world to be guided by a biodynamic ethos in every aspect of the project.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
The opportunity to craft what will be one of the world’s great resorts with an extraordinary team of people is very special and an honour given such a singular setting. Likewise, coming back to Antigua after many years has been especially rewarding.
What are the complexities of meeting the demands of shareholders, fulfilling the growth of your management team and delivering the brand’s values to the guests?
I’m fortunate that my management team are of the same view as myself – delivering Half Moon Bay Antigua’s values to our guests is our number one priority. Take the work we’ve been doing to regenerate the land, restore the soil and rebuild the coral reef as an example. There are plenty of developers who might not see the value in doing this, but we are completely aligned that we want the resort to leave a gentle imprint on the land. And that our guests want that too.
What will Half Moon Bay have to do to stay one step ahead of its competition, especially in the luxury hospitality sector?
We have the most spectacular setting, which is a great start. And then with partners like Piet Boon working on the design of the resort and bringing in the incredible hospitality and amenities of Rosewood, we think that we’re in a strong position to stay ahead of any competition as it truly will be a unique offering that you won’t be able to get anywhere else in the world.
What are Half Moon Bay’s unique selling points?
Firstly the topography of the land, which creates natural privacy for the resort’s suites and residences – also meaning all guests will enjoy captivating views. Secondly, the unparalleled soft programming that the location offers the opportunity to have. It isn’t enough to say that Half Moon Bay is one of the best beaches in the world (and with 3,200 feet of coral sand it is!). Lots of our guests won’t be looking to spend all day at the beach. To provide what is required for today’s discerning high-net-worth traveller and their multigenerational family means accommodating for experiences at the highest level. For example, the bay is a world-class kitesurfing destination, so we’ll be ready to accommodate pro- kite surfers whilst providing the same level of service right through to a kitesurfing school for their children. Thirdly, we are a pioneer in regenerative, sustainable agriculture. All 132 acres at Half Moon Bay will be developed as a biodynamic property, a first for a resort. At the heart of this will be the on-site biodynamic farm and edible landscape, which residence owners and hotel guests will have full access to.
What does luxury mean to you?
‘Luxury’ has become so overused as a word but I have a very clear view – ‘Authenticity is luxury’. I’ve said it so many times I should have registered it! For authenticity, wherever you are in the world the location should be evident in every detail of the resort.
What are the personality traits that define a successful and happy hotel proprietor, in your opinion?
At the end of the day we are servants. It is quite simple really as one has to enjoy people and touching their lives in meaningful ways and hopefully creating indelible memories for them and their families.
How do hotel trends differ, if at all, between hotels in the US, Asia and Europe?
One of the reasons we’re working with Rosewood on Half Moon Bay is their A Sense of Place® philosophy that means each of their properties is a reflection of its location’s history, geography and culture. Half Moon Bay has a striking geography, not just in the beauty of the bay itself but also in the surrounding 27 acre national park; the bay has a storied history having previously been a vacation spot of choice for luminaries like Jackie Kennedy and Audrey Hepburn and of course Antigua has a rich and vibrant culture. So trends do need to differ between the US, Asia, Europe and the Caribbean so that hotels and resorts reflect the region’s spirit, something that you see done extremely well across Rosewood’s portfolio.
Have you noticed any particular trends in hotel design?
I was sceptical about social media in this sector at first, I wasn’t sure guests at the level we are operating at were spending much of their vacation looking at social media feeds. But now we’re designing hotels having considered where that headline Instagram shot will be. We’ve actually adjusted the position of the resort’s arrival area by a few degrees so it gives an epic view of the bay angled at the point where the waves are creating this quite spectacular spray.
How important do you feel hotel design has become when launching a new hotel?
Design is at the heart of creating a new resort. You can have the most beautiful location, and at Half Moon Bay we really do; you can have the most incredible soft programming of one-off experiences, and at this luxury resort this will be truly unparalleled; but it is the design which will bring it all together in terms of aesthetics, privacy and functionality. Rosewood Half Moon Bay’s aesthetic will borrow from historic Caribbean architecture to offer a classic, timeless feel coupled with thoughtful amenities – private infinity plunge pools, hammocks, open-air baths and shower gardens with orchid walls. And there will be a breathtaking ocean view at every turn, that is something we’ve been working hard on to ensure the design allows for.
Can you tell us more about your choice of designer for Half Moon Bay?
We have selected Amsterdam-based Studio Piet Boon for the design of the hotel and branded residences. Piet knows Antigua very well from having created some of the most admired private villas on the island. He understands the natural materials that work best in Antigua and knows how to introduce twists for a contemporary experience. He has a clear vision for Half Moon Bay that will connect all aspects of the resort’s design with the nature and serenity of the setting.
What would you say are the three best places you’ve ever stayed?
The Paris Ritz always. The Ngorongoro Crater Lodge for its location. And for simply disappearing for a few days, Oustau de Baumanière in Provence.
Where currently ranks highest on your travel wish list?
Having spent time in Africa with A&K, I would like to go back again after the years since and, in essence, rediscover so many incredible places yet again.
How do you aim to achieve a good work-life balance and what do those closest to you think of your attempts?
I think one has to dedicate time to the passions they hold outside of work by setting aside specific time to enjoy them both individually and with family. I think collectively, we would always wish for more time together but it is always a work in progress.