Inspired by modern luxury travelers’ aspirations, a new hospitality brand is connecting guests to high-end independent properties that exemplify a destination’s most distinctive, compelling experiences. Luxury hospitality management consulting firm Amek Group launched AKEN Hotels & Resorts earlier this month with a collection of upper-upscale to ultra-luxury independent hotels. In contrast to a soft brand, AKEN aims to disrupt traditional, one-model-fits-all approaches by offering deep flexibility and customization for owners and operators, under a single brand umbrella.
“We have seen a need in the industry, among independent upscale-and-above properties that are inimitable, artful reflections of their destinations and unlike any other hotel, Many of these gems need additional support in order to reach their potential. By becoming part of the AKEN brand, they can operate with the same levels of support and technology that international brands have, while retaining their independence. Ultimately, this will connect more travelers to authentic, meaningful experiences.”
-Luis Gallotti, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Amek Group.
The AKEN brand proposition aims to disrupt and reinvent international hospitality management and branding practices. AKEN Hotels & Resorts offers carefully selected properties the opportunity to expand their potential through its services. A hotel that becomes part of AKEN can retain varying degrees of its own branding, based on how much brand presence is needed to help position or differentiate it. On the operational side, AKEN offers an array of different services, from global sales and representation to full management, and has structured 16 different options for properties. “Flexibility is what today’s hotel owners are looking for, and we are incredibly excited to offer this level of customization under a single brand umbrella,” Gallotti said.
AKEN is also changing norms by taking on small projects with no minimum number of rooms, an inclusiveness rarely found within large international chains. Whether a property has eight rooms or 150, has existing technology and property management system (PMS) capabilities or needs dynamic solutions such as the company’s proprietary platform built with Sabre, AKEN aims to add value, ultimately strengthening the growing global interest in independent hotel experiences. The brand offers a service standards culture based on the desires of the modern luxury traveler to be spoken to naturally, in an unscripted way.
The brand offers three collections: Spirit, Soul, and Mind. AKEN “Spirit” hotels are typically luxury to ultra-luxury, AKEN “Soul” properties are upper-upscale to luxury, and AKEN “Mind” hotels are upscale to upper-upscale. These designations are intended to help travelers easily find hotels that best fit their desires, as experience levels vary based on portfolio. In “Spirit,” for example, the Villa Beluno Hotel in Bariloche, Argentina, is a 14-room property nestled along the shore of Nahuel Huapi Lake, surrounded by the Andes. “Soul” offers properties such as the lush, wine-focused Entre Cielos, set amidst a vineyard in Mendoza, or Bio Habitat in Circasia, Colombia, which is surrounded by more than 16,000 square meters of native forest and features rooms and experiences designed to immerse guests in nature. “Mind” includes offerings such as La Urumpta, a 60-room hotel in Cordoba, Argentina, featuring decor inspired by local culture.
When it comes to loyalty, the team behind AKEN Hotels & Resorts has taken a different approach from that of many other travel brands. The loyalty platform, “AKEN Community,” has social and environmental impact and guest gratification in mind. “When a guest makes a reservation through our website,” says Lisandro León Liguori, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Amek Group, “they will have the opportunity to choose from one of three local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to which we, AKEN, and the hotel itself, will donate a total of one US dollar. The three organizations will benefit children, the environment, or animals.” AKEN plans to roll its automatic donation program out in 2022.
AKEN also rewards its guests right away, from their first direct booking. “We believe that for the post-pandemic luxury traveler, instant gratification is especially important at the moment of decision-making, because the future is less certain than in previous years,” León Liguori said. Examples of these instant benefits could be a welcome drink or bar discount, extended check-out, early check-in, upgrades, or a personalized in-room amenity, for example.
Amek Group recently welcomed Rodrigo Tsutsumi as AKEN Hotels & Resorts Vice President for the Americas. Having most recently spent 10 years at Preferred Hotels & Resorts, Tsutsumi has a unique perspective on the distinct advantages and challenges of both chain and independent hotel business models. “One of the core strengths of AKEN Hotels & Resorts is that we are able to provide our member hotels with the knowledge, experience, and competency on par with what a traditional hotel chain may provide, but with a clear emphasis on fostering these independent hotels’ freedom and distinctiveness,” said Tsutsumi.
The launch of AKEN Hotels & Resorts also includes “Experiences” that connect guests to deeply immersive, non-traditional lodging experiences including luxury glamping, yachts, and more. The brand’s “Residences” offerings are secluded private residences with full service and amenities similar to many of those found at a traditional hotel. Uman Lodge, a 16-room AKEN Residences experience in the midst of lush vegetation just north of Chile’s Aysen region, offers a harmonious blend of relaxation and adventure, and amenities suited to a longer stay.
About AKEN Hotels & Resorts
AKEN Hotels & Resorts is a US-based brand that connects travelers to one-of-a-kind experiences at a collection of independent, upscale-and-above properties that illuminate a destination’s most compelling attributes. AKEN’s continued growth includes additional properties expected to be announced by the end of 2021, and plans to continue expanding into the US and Central and South America. For more information, visit akenhotels.com, or follow the brand on Instagram at @aken_hotels.
About Amek Group
Amek Group is a white label hospitality service offering tailored management and consultancy for hotels and resorts. Strategically located between Miami, Florida, USA and Buenos Aires, Argentina, Amek Group is the only hospitality company to singly offer independent brands all operational and strategic needs to develop, manage, or operate a hotel. It currently carries 15 properties and experiences in its portfolio. “Amek,” which means “big brother” in the indigenous South American language known as “Onas,” was formed by childhood friends Luis Gallotti and Lisandro Léon Liguori. Basketball brought them together in their native country of Argentina, forming a partnership that would carry them from their youth through recruiting a team of their own. Amek Group’s portfolio of consultancy, development, management, learning, and quality assurance speak to the current favored business model of using remote teams, vertical integration, and a cooperative of hand-selected industry experts. Visit amekgroup.com for more information.