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Q&A Mark a. eDLESON,
President of the Asia Office for Commune Hotels & Resorts


Green-pioneer Mark Edleson has over thirty years of experience in finance, real estate development and the leisure industry in Southeast Asia. A graduate of Stanford University and formerly a Vice President of Citibank, Mark has been associated with a number of successful brands in the leisure industry. He was a founder of the Nusa Pacific Group and a founding partner of GHM Indonesia, as well as being one of the founding partners of The Odyssey Club, which merged with Exclusive Resorts, the world leader in private residence clubs. He is also President of the owning company of the Amanjiwo resort in Indonesia, and a founding partner of Mandara Spa Asia - the leading global operator of resort spas. All those 'founding partner' credits show that Edleson likes starting something new and the process of innovative. He is also passionate about good design and environmental sustainability; two things for which Alila Hotels & resorts is justly famous.In July 2015 Alila announced that it  was entering into a fully integrated model with Commune. The company joins Commune’s portfolio of brands including Joie de Vivre Hotels, Thompson Hotels and Tommie. Mark Edleson became President of the Asia Office for Commune Hotels & Resorts,

What inspired you to become involved with Alila Hotels & Resorts?
I had been working on a number of hotel projects for 13 years prior to establishing Alila Hotels & Resorts and decided it was time to strike out, together with a couple of partners, on our own to create our own hotel management company. We had extensive experience and were confident that we could create a unique brand that would bring a new design aesthetic and new level of service and experience to the guests.
What is the single best/defining thing about Alila Hotels & Resorts?
We have two major markets for our services. The first is the developers/owners of the properties that we manage. The defining characteristic of Alila with this market is the commitment and passion of a small group of dedicated people who are directly accessible to developers. The second are the guests of our hotels. The single best thing about an Alila hotel or resort is the holistic experience of the destination brought together in the design, the service and the experiences made available to our guests.
You have had years of experience in real estate development and the leisure industry, what do you think is the next big luxury travel trend?
It is hard to describe the next 'big' luxury travel trend because the trend in luxury is toward smaller, more personal and more unique experiences. People with the resources want to do things that are not accessible to others. They want larger yachts to access remote places or private coves. Luxury travel will become more focused on environment with people visiting vanishing ecosystems like the forests, pristine mountain lakes, watching whales migrate and walks through meadows in bloom. Time, space and rarity are where travel is trending.
You co-founded the Odyssey Club (Now merged with Exclusive Resorts) tell us about the trend towards destination clubs?
Destination clubs are a way for people to vary their holidays in desirable destinations by staying in stylish dwellings with the feel of private residences without having to return time and again to the same time share unit or privately owned vacation home. It provides exclusivity, luxury and personalized service not available in hotels. The travel niche is likely to continue to grow.
Tell us about Alila villas?
Alila Villas is the new up-market Alila product which is carefully crafted from the design to the guest experience with careful attention to the physical and cultural environment. By integrating these elements we aim to engage the heart, mind and senses of each of our guests. We create space and time that feels private, where every moment and interaction feels intimately personal. We opened the first three Alila Villas resorts last year. Alila Villas Uluwatu and Alila Villas Soori each showcase and give access to different facets of Bali while Alila Villas Hadahaa is located on a small island in an unspoiled atoll in southern Maldives.
What is your own personal litmus test for whether a hotel is worthy of the "luxury" tag?
My personal test of luxury is the confidence of the staff in interacting with me and the unique elegance, definition and functionality of the designed space assigned to me. If it is a luxury city hotel, it must have easy access to culture and food. If it is a luxury resort, it should have access to a magnificent natural setting.
alila villas uluwatu cliff edge cabana
Alila villas Uluwatu cliff edge cabana
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Apart from your own, what are your favourite hotels/resorts? (and why)
Apart from my own, in Asia, my favourite resorts are The Datai in Langkawi for the natural beauty and the clever design statement locating the beach hotel back in the forest and Amanjiwo for its splendid view of the Borobudur temple and the way it captures the majesty and mysticism of Central Java. My favourite city hotel is The Sukhothai in Bangkok for its elegant spaces.
What is your favourite city to visit?
It is difficult for me to decide among San Francisco, New York and London.
What is your best overseas restaurant experience?
Having travelled as much as I do and having lived in Asia for over 40 years, I prefer to eat in simple roadside eateries that serve excellent home style local cuisine to stylish luxury restaurants.
alila villas hadahaa, aqua villas
Alila villas Hadahaa, aqua villas
What is your favourite airline for business or first class? Why?
I find it hard to beat the service and comfort of Singapore Airlines. As a long-time member of the highest tier of their loyalty programme, the personal attention is superb.
What three things do you never travel without?
I never travel without my laptop computer and my mobile phone to keep me connected and a change of underwear. Everything else I can probably do without!
What is the one luxury travel experience you will never forget?
For me, gaining access to nature is the ultimate restorative value of a holiday travel experience. A recent trek around the Annapurna peak of Nepal will always be remembered.
What is the most important thing (travelwise) that money CAN buy?
Probably the most important thing that money can buy is a comfortable airline seat to reach a desirable destination or the porters to ease the physical burden of an inspiring natural journey. In a word, the most important thing money can buy is comfortable conveyance.
What is the most important thing it can't?
The spiritual inspiration of clean air, sunshine and a stunning natural setting with good friends!
EDLESON's Choice
The Datai: www.lhw.com
The Sukhothai: www.sukhothai.com
Singapore Airlines: www.singaporeair.com


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Posted 12/10/10

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