DAVID ANDERSON, CEO, SUN RESORTS
CEO of Sun Limited, David Anderson surely embodies the image and reputation of the proverbial doughty Scot. Here, he tells Can Faik about his journey to the top, and what his plans are for the company’s future…
Sun Resorts, a Mauritian hotel group which owns and manages four hotels on the island of Mauritius (Long Beach Mauritius, La Pirogue Resort & Spa, Sugar Beach Resort & Spa and Ambre Resort & Spa) as well as the emblematic Ile aux Cerfs, a private island featuring the championship golf course designed by Bernhard Langer. Kanuhura Maldives, located in the Lhaviyani Atoll is a member of “The Leading Hotels of the World” and reopened December 2016 following an extensive refurbishment.
What was your background in hospitality prior to working for Sun Resorts?
Prior to joining Sun Resorts, I was Regional Vice President for Wyndham Hotels, before that I worked for Dolce Hotels & Resorts for more than five years as Managing Director, EMEA. Leadership within the hospitality business has been a large part of my working life, which has allowed me to travel and meet people from all around the world.
Where are you based?
Since February 2016, my home has been in Mauritius, where our corporate office for Sun Resorts is located.
What does your current position involve?
I’m the CEO of Sun Limited, a 100 per cent Mauritian controlled company, which was restructured in 2015 into the following four clusters: Sun Hotel Management, Sun Centralised Services, Sun Asset Management and Sun Real Estate.
Being at the forefront of 3500 employees is an important responsibility. I feel accountable for all of them; whether they’ve just joined the company, or have worked for Sun for a number of years. We all have a common goal; we are all passionate and dedicated to our roles within the company and that makes the difference – when you have happy people around you, when you really enjoy what you are doing and this is key for me. We invest a lot in our people; training, well-being and activities. We are in the people business and happy employees leads to happy guests.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
Working with people who are all very passionate about their jobs, bringing all of them further in their careers through a clear vision for the company, and opening doors for personal development.
Sun is ambitious. We believe in excellence in everything we do: from service to relationships with our partners and owners.
What I enjoy the most? When we reach our goals. Sun has a portfolio of terrific resorts that we are all extremely proud to own and manage.
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?
Having the right team and sharing my vision with all of them. I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by people who have worked in hospitality for a number of years, and all are experts in their field. I look after the recruitment procedure and pride myself in employing the very best talent.
What does Sun Resorts have to do to stay one step ahead of its competition?
Being innovative is fundamental.
Today, all hoteliers offer the same thing: great rooms, nice restaurants, beautiful beaches, however it is for Sun to make the difference and that is through exceptional and memorable experiences.
We are currently working on our brand promise that has always been there, however we are now taking this to the next level.
We have also restructured the company to generate sustainable growth and profits to become the leader of on island experiences, such as Ile Aux Cerf’s, which has just been awarded the ‘Best Golf course in the world’ by Golf Journal magazine, or Kanuhura which has been voted ‘Best Renovation in the Maldives’ and more recently won the World Travel Awards 2017 for ‘Maldives Best Family Resort’
What are Sun Resorts’ Unique Selling Points?
Prime sites, dedicated teams, timeless memories, three world-class golf courses, kids and family offering, amazing beach experiences, private islands and a collection of uniquely diverse hotels.
What is your plan for Sun Resorts in Europe and the UAE?
We have Regional Sales Offices in Paris, London, Frankfurt, Milan, and Madrid.
We have key partners in the UAE; our team based in Corporate Office travels often for meetings, roadshow and fairs. Our key feeding market is still Europe, as Mauritius as a destination benefits from the actual geopolitical situation. We also target emergent markets and work closely to understand their needs and have a tailor-made offering for each guest profile.
We are also interested in opportunities of managing resorts in our key source markets.
What are the personality traits that define a successful and happy hotel proprietor, in your opinion?
We own the Four Seasons at Anahita and Shangri-La Le Touessrok Resort & Spa in Mauritius and we are also a hotel management company. We are therefore on both sides of ownership and management and what make things work well is first a partnership, where we have the results we expect and the operator has the quality of asset they need in order to deliver the expectation.
Have you noticed any particular trends in hotels in Mauritius compared to Europe and the US?
Mauritian hotel brands and their authenticity have always been very important on the island and the best ambassadors for the destination.
Having Shangri La and Four Seasons as partners in Mauritius, opened a number of opportunities and also helped to put Mauritius on the map as a leading luxury destination.
Have you noticed any particular trends in hotel interior design?
Quality, space and light all play a huge part in our interior design now.
Art and music in hotels is also a big trend, which we have heavily incorporated into the rebrand of Long Beach Mauritius, which will be showcased from January 2018.
How important do you feel hotel design has become when launching a new hotel?
Very important, as it is part of the identity and personality of the hotel.
A hotel defines itself through its design and it is important that we please all in the design of our resorts.
It’s clear to see hospitality design is important to you, as your latest property Kanuhura was designed by Muse London, how do you feel about the end product?
Amazing! It’s so creative yet true to its original spirit. All our guests love the ‘gypset’ concept created by Inge Moore.
What’s next for Sun Resorts?
The reopening of La Pirogue in September 2017, which will have a bohemian, chic style, in keeping with the hotel’s current design and layout and the repositioning of Long Beach Mauritius as a leading five-star hotel in Mauritius.
What would you say are the three best places you’ve ever stayed?
Kanuhura, because it’s really out of this world. St Andrews, because I’m from there and I’m a golfer. Mauritius, where we have some of the best beaches and hospitality in the world.
Let’s finish with the issue of personal and work life balance. How do you aim to achieve a good balance and what do those closest to you think of your attempts?
I always find time for my loved ones and a little sports. I’m a golfer and in Mauritius, I’m so lucky to have the option to be able to play on three golf courses that are part of Sun, two are ranked amongst the best golf courses in the world!
I often play golf with my daughters on Ile aux Cerfs, which is owned by Sun Resorts and spend the afternoons having lunch under the coconut trees on the beach together.
I’m so happy to offer them the opportunity to experience an island life and one we will all remember forever.