Alex van Heeren, Owner Of The Huka Retreats: “I Have A Serious Commitment To Providing Nothing But The Best”

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New Zealand, Fiji and South Africa. It may seem like they wouldn’t have anything in common – but they do. Each one of these three places are blessed with prestigious properties; Huka Lodge, Dolphin Island, and Grande Provence. All three properties comprise The Huka Retreats and are the vision of their founder, entrepreneur Alex van Heeren.

EFactor spoke with Alex van Heeren about both the differences and the similarities between the three resorts, the proudest moments in his career, and what it takes to be the owner at one of the best hotel collections in the world:

I have a serious commitment to providing nothing but the best for guests in every way…

As the owner of The Huka Retreats, what do your responsibilities entail?
“I work closely with a small team which oversees the running of our three properties in New Zealand, Fiji and South Africa. Looking after our guests is paramount in everything we do. This year we celebrated our 90th anniversary at Huka Lodge, and we continue to welcome guests from around the world in search of a welcoming haven.”

What skills do you need to be owner at one of the best hotel collections in the world?
“A serious commitment to providing nothing but the best for guests in every way.”

The Huka Retreats consists of Huka Lodge (Taupo, New Zealand), Dolphin Island (Viti Levu, Fiji) and Grande Provence (Franschhoek, South Africa). What do all three properties have in common?
“The three properties are all very different, but all offer intimate and elegant havens for those seeking respite from the pressure of modern life.”

What would you say makes each of the three properties unique?
“While sharing a commitment to offering unrivaled hospitality, each of the properties has a strong sense of place and reflects local culinary and cultural influences in a respectful and often creative way.”


Alan Pye Cottage at Huka Lodge, Taupo, New Zealand.


Dolphin Island, Viti Levu, Fiji.


Grande Provence, Franschhoek, South Africa.

What are the main changes you have made at The Huka Retreats in the last years, and how have these changes influenced operations?
“We constantly work to refine and enhance the style of our guest experience and over recent years we have created our exclusive cottages, our lifestyle packages, extended our offering of stunning private dining venues and established a real dynamic between our three sister properties and our global team. Operationally, this makes more demands on our service levels and famed attention to detail. We love the challenge of offering more, while also maintaining the standards of excellence across all levels of our operation that we pride ourselves on. We work as a team and we work with people who completely understand the style and the culture of hospitality we deliver at The Huka Retreats.”


The Owner’s Cottage at Grande Provence.

 

What were the proudest or the most satisfying moments in your career life?
“Of the many accolades we’ve received over the years, highlights include Tatler Magazine Award for Enduring Excellence over 25 Years (2010) and more recently CN Traveller Magazine Best Hotel in Australasia/ South Pacific (2014). We’ve also hosted members of the British and European Royal Families on many occasions, a huge honor. On a personal note, family holidays at Dolphin Island in Fiji have been one of my most treasured memories.”


Dolphin Island, Viti Levu, Fiji.

What do you envision for The Huka Retreats in the future?
“We will continue to explore and anticipate what refines our guests’ experience, constantly striving to make it even better by ‘staying ahead of the game’. Huka Lodge was the original luxury lodge in New Zealand, and after 90 years we are still welcoming guests from around the world, many of whom are coming back with their families and staying in our private cottages, another first in the region when we introduced them.”


Huka Lodge, Taupo, New Zealand.


Huka Lodge, Taupo, New Zealand.


Dolphin Island, Viti Levu, Fiji.


Dolphin Island, V
iti Levu, Fiji.


Grande Provence, Franschhoek, South Africa.


Grande Provence, Franschhoek, South Africa.

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