Boundless Anantara

Anantara’s recent openings have successfully incorporated a bit of the Maldives
and Greece into the UAE’s already-diverse tourism offering


Minor Hotels, well respected in the UAE for its luxury-wellness, experience-driven hospitality, has opened two properties in the country under the Anantara brand in the first quarter of this year.

Anantara Mina Al Arab Ras Al Khaimah Resort, with its over-water villas reminiscent of Maldivian hospitality, and adult-only Anantara Santorini Abu Dhabi Retreat, with its distinct Aegean vibes, are a masterclass in creating perfectly differentiated hospitality products, though under the same brand and within the same country.

The 174-key Anantara Mina Al Arab Ras Al Khaimah Resort is situated on a private peninsula, introducing Maldives-inspired over-water villas with ample living space, an expansive outdoor deck featuring a private plunge pool, views of the Arabian Gulf and the natural mangrove lagoon and a reserved cabana on the villa-only beach.

The much smaller Anantara Santorini Abu Dhabi Retreat, located on the coast halfway between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, features only 22 luxurious guest rooms and suites, inspired by the eponymous Greek island.


I think in the future, there is going to be a consolidation of brands. If you’re a single brand without distribution, you’re going to be left out a little bit
– Dillip Rajakarier


We speak to Dillip Rajakarier, Group CEO of Minor International and CEO of Minor Hotels, as the Thailand-headquartered hospitality company powers ahead with a target of opening more than 50 properties in the Middle East over the next three years.

The Middle East is an area of great importance to Minor Hotels, says Rajakarier, in particular, speaking of Saudi Arabia: “Our intention is to be part of each of Saudi Arabia’s mega projects across several of our brands ranging from experiential luxury to serviced apartments, each creating a personalised product for a consumer niche.

“We have signed an Anantara at Diriyah Gate in Riyadh, which is going to be one of the largest flagship projects of the brand when it opens. In NEOM’s Trojena, home to the Gulf’s first outdoor ski resort, a 270-key Anantara resort will offer a selection of unique guest rooms and suites.”

Elsewhere in the Middle East, two properties, under brands Tivoli and Avani, are in development in Bahrain and slated to open in 2026. Minor Hotels also recently announced the expansion of its luxury Anantara brand in Oman with the upcoming development of a new-build, 121-key resort in Bandar Al Khairan, Muscat, joining the growing portfolio of luxurious Anantara properties in the Middle East region, which includes the two already established resorts in Oman - Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara and Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort, in addition to 10 properties in the UAE and one in Qatar.

With more than 200 openings targeted globally by the end of 2026, the group’s global portfolio would increase by almost 40 per cent from its current count of 540 properties. More than 30,000 rooms will be added to its present inventory of almost 80,000.

The rapid acceleration of Minor’s global growth ambition builds on record financial performance in 2023 and will be driven by a multi-pronged commercial strategy that will see the company enhance its portfolio of brands and overhaul its digital strategy, while pursuing a more balanced mix of management and franchise operating models.

Under its long-standing ‘asset right’ strategy, Minor Hotels owns or leases almost 70 per cent of its global portfolio of 540 hotels. That percentage is expected to decrease to approximately 50 per cent as the group pursues a more aggressive mix of management and franchise agreement options.

The Anantara, Avani, Oaks, Tivoli , NH Collection and NH Hotels brands are expected to be the key drivers of portfolio growth over the next three years, with Avani alone expected to more than double its property count to almost 100.

As part of a major review and optimisation of its global brand portfolio, Minor Hotels also expects to unveil multiple new brands in 2024 and 2025 to fill unmet consumer demand and provide more tailored options to hotel owners, further enhancing its competitive positioning.

“I think today we cover most segments from luxury, upper upscale to mid-scale and economy but we want extend our offerings with soft brands,” Rajakarier explains to us.

An affiliation between an independent hotel and a hotel chain, a soft brand can provide hotel operators with lower costs and added flexibility, when compared with traditional franchise agreements.

“We have hard brands like Anantara, Avani and Tivoli. We could consider creating a soft brand linked to The Wolseley Hospitality Group, for instance. Going forward, we would like to create a soft brand in every segment.

“There are a lot of the owners who have single brands out there but don’t have the distribution or reach – these are welcome to be part of our collection.

“I think in the future, there is going to be a consolidation of brands. If you’re a single brand without the distribution, you’re going to be left out a little bit,” Rajakarier concludes.