Tolga Unan – CEO and Founder of Unan Hospitality

We had the pleasure of interviewing Tolga Unan, the CEO and Founder of Unan Hospitality. This new Integrated Resorts-focused consulting firm brings over 30 years of global hospitality experience. His five-year tenure as Managing Director at CROSSROADS Maldives adds to his prominent corporate presence. Tolga is known for pushing boundaries and seizing unconventional opportunities, transforming challenges into thriving prospects.

As an innovative, risk-taking leader, he’s marked by his unique blend of expertise and vision, offering a fresh perspective in the hospitality industry. With a relentless commitment to innovation and a knack for strategic risk-taking, Tolga envisions pathways to success that elude the conventional mind.

Could you tell us a little bit about Unan Hospitality?

At Unan Hospitality, we specialise in consultancy services tailored for large-scale ventures, with a specific focus on integrated resorts. Our expertise lies in creating successful frameworks that enable investors to maximise their initial investments and excel in the dynamic environment of managing diverse brands and business entities within a unified integrated resort framework.

What are your core services?

Our proven solutions have already yielded remarkable results in the integrated resort environment of the Maldives. This setting seamlessly integrates multiple resort brands, diverse business units, retail spaces, a yacht marina, a beach club, event facilities, and entertainment venues, all operating harmoniously under a unified destination umbrella brand. We provide a comprehensive solution designed to align seamlessly with strategic objectives, maximising operational synergies for optimal returns. Our approach is multifaceted, and as the business expands, new components can be integrated for continuous growth. Our services are grouped into four pillars:

Destination Advisory: We partner with key local companies, leveraging our expertise in the Maldives. Our services include advising on available investment opportunities, foreign investment law, risk management, market analysis, positioning, and feasibility studies.

Integration Planning: We design organisational structures that form winning teams and utilise a business unit model. This ensures the proper brand selection, HR and financial structure, and equilibrium between operational efficiency and multiple brand positioning.

Facility Management: Our community model is at the centrepiece of the integration plan, promoting cost efficiency and profitability. Multiple brands and business units share facilities, and we offer services related to resort support, utilities, sustainability, property maintenance, and security.

Technology Solutions: We provide IT solutions, including turnkey options, hardware and software planning and implementation, off-the-shelf IT solutions, and customised applications that work across businesses and brands, with ongoing support and updates.

Tell us your recommendations on investing in the Maldives.

Investment prospects in the Maldives stem from the robust demand for this sought-after destination. Opportunities range from inhabited islands to artificial lagoon developments, open to global investors, and the location selection depends on factors like transport accessibility and natural beauty. We offer crucial insights for informed decisions. Moreover, islands hosting operational resorts are often available for sale, promising swift transformation through infusion of capital and rebranding.

What is Integration and how do you plan for it?

Embarking on substantial investments encompassing multiple resorts, retail outlets, marinas, or even theme parks beneath a singular destination umbrella offers many advantages to investors, particularly in cost management. When executed meticulously, an Integrated Resort establishes a distinct niche capable of yielding significant returns. Nevertheless, the challenge lies in harmonising the functioning of diverse brands. This is where our expertise excels. We optimise the potential of each component while collectively contributing to the overall success, ensuring investors gain maximum returns from their investment.

Ultimately, investors aspire to reap maximum returns from all facets of their investment rather than merely portions. Our role is to stand alongside the developers in achieving this objective – negotiating with resort brands, crafting destination marketing strategies, formulating organisational blueprints, and devising operating protocols that secure long-term benefits for the investment. Imagine an integrated resort as an orchestra, with each brand and section as distinct musicians converging to create a harmonious symphony. In the conductor role, we bring your vision to life, orchestrating a synchronised experience.

The “Umbrella” Brand signifies an all-encompassing destination where various amenities converge seamlessly, offering a comprehensive Maldives experience. Each Business Unit within this brand holds a unique purpose, from accommodation to entertainment. Synergising these elements allows a resort to be recognised as a haven of enjoyment and leisure.

Every Business Unit can include multiple or single brands if they align cohesively and project unique values while considering price points. We aim to establish an organisational framework where each business unit and brand significantly contributes to the overall success, utilising shared facilities under the Community Model principles.

How to leverage facility management, and what is a community model?

In establishing an integrated resort, facility management is a pivotal factor. Managing facilities as a distinct Business Unit is essential, serving all brands under the integrated resort. Four pillars encompass facility management:

Employee Experience: Building an inclusive community across all brands and business units.

Guest Support Services: Offering support services under a client-supplier relationship, including laundry, gardening, transportation, welfare (dormitory and staff canteen), public area cleaning, pest control, and community recreational and retail areas. Utility

Management and Sustainability: Focusing on vital resort operations, including the powerhouse, RO plant, incinerator, waste management, beach maintenance, and marine biology.

Property Management and Security: Covering security and loss prevention, compliance, licenses, clinic, disaster management, emergency response, and risk mitigation.

How do you form a community in a setting where there are multiple brands at play? Are you saying this is the key to success?

The operation of a multi-branded integrated resort poses challenges, primarily addressed through effective human resource management. We cultivate successful teams within diverse brands using our community model, fostering a dynamic micro-economy and harmoniously aligning teams under the overarching integrated resort umbrella. Facility management nurtures a community spirit that shapes the identity of the integrated resort despite brand diversity.

How do technology and IT solutions come to play?

Managing large-scale operations requires sophisticated IT infrastructure with seamless integration to provide instant access to data at both Business Unit (BU) and multi-BU levels. Performance comparison is crucial for progress.

We’ve developed a customised software suite in facility management to integrate seamlessly with major Property Management Systems (PMS). Our proprietary applications bridge gaps in addressing the unique requisites of multi-brand integrated resorts. Our solutions efficiently manage large teams within a single company or across multiple entities.

With our software suite, handling thousands of team members becomes manageable. We offer a comprehensive turnkey solution, linking international hotel brands and identifying areas needing customised solutions. Our extensive experience has resulted in refined applications suitable for the dynamic environment of multi-branded integrated resorts. We provide design, installation, configuration, and maintenance of complete IT solutions, including GPON, Switch, Wi-Fi, and CCTV networks. Our services encompass PMS, POS, Finance, Revenue Management, Reservations, Events Management, HR, and Procurement solutions tailored to various brands. Our proudest achievements are the customised IT solutions for Facility Management, Security Tracking, Transportation, Staff Movement, and Access Control, all designed for multi-brand, multi-business unit environments, enhancing operational efficiency.

What is your value offering to your prospective clients?

With our Turn-Key advisory service, we support clients throughout the entire process. We assist in the planning phase, helping analyse data, evaluate scenarios, and authenticate their vision. During development, we guide site selection, design coordination, procurement, IT support, brand selection, and design. We’ve also created an active lifestyle Beach Resort brand to propose to prospective developers. In the operational phase, we optimise resources and offer proven organisational structures, enabling the outsourcing of specific areas, like facility management. We also provide Consolidation and Asset Management to measure and adjust for improved business expansion.

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