The Most Luxurious Homes Away from Home

by Anton D. Javier
17 Apr 2024

For some affluent travellers, staying at a hotel just doesn’t cut it anymore. Therefore, options like ANI Private Resorts and Ultima Collection are increasingly becoming popular choices for those who enjoy an elevated level of luxury, privacy, and comfort. We spoke to the CEOs of both groups to learn more about the allure of these ultra-luxury accommodations.



Yeshi Phuntsho, CEO, ANI Private Resorts

Can you give us an overview of your career in hospitality, as well as some of the most unforgettable moments so far?
Growing up in Eastern Bhutan, the lure of the unknown always came to me. Surrounded by the serene beauty of nature, I yearned to understand the world beyond my small community. Travel represented the pursuit of knowledge, the expansion of my horizons, and the embracing of new experiences.

My journey in the travel industry began as a tour guide, eventually leading me to become the first resort team member at AMAN in Bhutan. The opportunity was transformative, exposing me to a world of luxury and hospitality that was entirely new to me. Amidst the culture shock, I found tremendous personal and professional growth. My path with AMAN led me to Phuket for training, where I had to adapt to a completely different way of life – every day brought new lessons, fuelling my passion for the industry and shaping my approach to leadership. Curiosity is the key to innovation, creativity, and success – an ethos integral to my career.

I joined ANI in 2016, as General Manager of ANI Sri Lanka. The opportunity to live in this beautiful country opened my eyes to working closely with the local community and creating unique experiences. It is this vision that I carry with me, as the CEO of ANI Private Resorts, a position I have held since December 2021.

What lessons have you learned from your time at various luxury hospitality groups that you’ve brought with you to ANI? How have you put them into action since taking on the role of CEO?
The travel industry has allowed me to satisfy my curiosity while creating unforgettable experiences for others. It has become a way of life centred on forming connections, fostering understanding, and creating a global community. Travel is not just about visiting new places; it’s about immersing oneself in new cultures, forming meaningful connections, and broadening one’s understanding of the world.

ANI Thailand, Arrival Pavilion, Living Sala, and Pool

What are the USPs of ANI Private Resorts that resonated with you and what do you think will make people want to stay at one of your properties?
At ANI Private Resorts, our core value of togetherness takes on an even deeper meaning in the current global landscape. We believe it is essential for people to come together in a group setting, whether with family, friends, colleagues, or for milestone celebrations. Our luxury all-inclusive concept and one group at a time provides the perfect environment for fostering connection, spending quality time with loved ones, and making memories of a lifetime.

We envision a travel experience beyond mere indulgence as we look to the future. We see travel as a means of creating lasting memories and making a difference. Our private resorts provide the perfect backdrop for these aspirations, offering an exclusive and intimate setting for meaningful connections and purposeful experiences.

(Related: Slow Travel in 2024

ANI Sri Lanka, Villa Divia

How have the expectations and demands of affluent travelers changed from when you started in hospitality? How do they differ from today’s travelers? Also, what are some trends that you’ve noticed and are keeping an eye out on?
There is now more of a focus towards slow, conscious, and regenerative travel. This shift in mindset aligns perfectly with our philosophy of providing unique and sustainable experiences at our resorts.

In my own life, I have made a conscious effort to embrace mindful living. I understand the importance of taking the time to truly immerse myself in the beauty of nature and the local culture when I travel. I believe in creating meaningful connections with the people and the environment around me rather than rushing through a checklist of tourist attractions. This mindful approach to travel allows me to fully appreciate each destination's unique experiences and sense of place.

In our business at ANI Private Resorts, we have implemented various practices that align with slow, conscious, and regenerative travel principles. Firstly, we are committed to sustainability and minimize our environmental impact. Our resorts are designed with environmentally friendly practices in mind, such as using renewable energy sources and reducing single-use plastics. We also support local communities through partnerships with local businesses and initiatives that give back to the area.

For those who are unfamiliar, can you talk about why ANI has placed such importance on giving back to the community? Can you also tell us more about the concept of regenerative travel and why it is one of the hallmarks at ANI?
We are committed to continuing to create opportunities for our guests to impact the communities they visit positively. Whether through sustainable practices, supporting local businesses, providing educational opportunities for the kids in the community, or participating in community initiatives, travel should be about more than just personal enjoyment. It should also be about leaving a positive mark on the world.

Our focus on the ANI Art Academies is the DNA of who ANI is. Our founder, philanthropist and arts patron Tim Reynolds, and all of us who work in ANI, fully believe in equal education opportunities. Our program provides an intensive, multi-year art skills education to aspiring artists at no personal cost. Designed to promote creative freedom through logic and discipline, the program utilizes the successful curriculum developed by artist, Anthony J. Waichulis, and graduates around the world have gone on to lead highly successful careers as sought-after artists and art educators, benefiting their families and communities alike.  

We encourage our guests to visit their local art academy to see for themselves the positive effect the program is having on the local communities. To see these young artists at work is incredibly impactful and guests have the opportunity, to purchase or commission pieces, with all the funds directly from the artist. 

ANI Thailand, Ocean Villa interiors

What are your travel plans for the rest of the year? Can you also give us a peek into how you personally travel?
I make it a point to visit our properties at least three times a year and have recently returned from trips to Sri Lanka and Thailand.  In a couple of months, I plan to head west to the Caribbean, not only to see our teams in Anguilla and the Dominican Republic but also to visit the site for our new property in Anguilla. This will open at the end of 2025 and will have 15 bedrooms and direct access to Shoal Bay, renowned as one of the Caribbean’s finest beaches. 

In conversations with guests, I often receive recommendations for locations for potential new ANI properties, prompting me to explore different destinations to assess future opportunities. Additionally, my business commitments frequently take me to Hong Kong and Singapore, with anticipated meetings scheduled in London for the summer.



Petar Krstic, CEO, Ultima Collection

Can you give us an overview of your career in hospitality, as well as some of the most unforgettable moments so far?
For me, it all started at home. My family is incredibly social and ever since I can remember, my parents were hosting soirées, cocktails, and never-ending lunches and dinners. My sisters and I were the designated servers, hosts, and bartenders, sporting white shirts and black “papillons” (bowties). This passion to host and bring people together was ingrained in my sisters and I, and we carry on in the same way. In my home, my wife and I host a weekly “spaghettata” – a four-hour lunch where the focal point of the meal is a giant serving of pasta (usually paccheri amatriciana).

From there you could say it was rather routine: I studied hotel management in Montreux, Switzerland. For the last 20 years, I have been lucky to work my way up in incredible companies like Mandarin Oriental, Rosewood Hotels, and AMAN Resorts. I spent the last six years with Aman and most recently opened the new flagship in New York. I am very fortunate that my career has taken me all around the globe, working in Mexico, the US, Morocco, Greece, Italy, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.

Like my fellow, hoteliers I have so many outrageous stories, but somehow the ones I remember vividly are none of the funny or crazy stories, rather the countless people I have met over the years; people who have helped me get to where I am today. We hoteliers are incredibly fortunate to be able to travel the world and meet incredibe people for a living.

What lessons have you learned from your time at Mandarin Oriental, Rosewood, and AMAN that you’ve brought with you at Ultima Collection? How will you put them into action?
Every single one of my past experiences has contributed to who I am today. In fact, the more challenging that I perceived an experience at the time, the more I feel I learned from it. I have a passion for the work that we do. I love that we serve people and that we can bring people joy and create beautiful memories. This is so powerful.

Other than financial acumen and intimate knowledge of hospitality operations, I feel that I bring a deep understanding of brand and how it is implemented across verticals and touchpoints. Brand needs to inform every facet of the business and experience, otherwise it is just a façade. I am incredibly excited about the work my team and I are doing in this regard. Stay tuned.

Ultima Corfu

What are the USPs of Ultima Collection that resonated with you and what do you think will make people want to stay at an Ultima Collection property?
Ultima Collection has found its niche in developing these one-of-a-kind, ultra-luxury residential estates that have facilities that can rival many large resorts; and we deliver incredibly thoughtful and genuine service in these estates. These are quite literally homes. They might be grand, and impressive, but still homes. This is our identity.

The architecture of each of our estates very much reflects its surroundings. Our property in Megève is a typical wood chalet from the Haute-Savoi region with (local) slate highlights. Whereas our property in the south of France is quintessentially Mediterranean. Yet, their privacy, size, facilities, comfort, and luxury are all on par with what one has come to expect from Ultima Collection.

The format that works for Ultima is a set of aesthetic codes that can quite easily be picked up on in each of the properties yet applied in a local context. For example, the Baccarat chandeliers, either chrome or brass framing to the suede panelling, the similar marble highlights, can be found in quite literally in all of our properties, yet each one is distinctly reflective of the location.

Moreover, each of the properties is designed to ensure the highest level of privacy; from the positioning of the residences, to the landscape design, and to the flow between guest and staff areas.

The scope of facilities at our private estates is impressive. Our properties are in the world’s most sought-after destinations (Gstaad, Megève, Courchevel, Côte d’Azur, etc). However, above all, our people are our greatest asset. Their warmth and genuine care for our guests continues to impress me over and over again.

Ultima Megève
Ultima Grand Villa pool view

How have the expectations and demands of affluent travelers changed from when you started in hospitality?
They have changed a lot, haven’t they? For the better, I think. These days, affluent travellers are so much more aware of the footprint they leave behind, both ecologically and metaphorically. They are looking for genuine connection to a place which ends up being more enriching for everyone. We as hoteliers have an obligation to the communities (and guests) we serve to deliver on both aspects. This was not necessarily the case 20 years ago.

How do they differ from today’s travelers? Also, what are some trends that you’ve noticed and are keeping an eye out on?
In general, I see the “right” kind of values becoming more the norm. From sustainability awareness to seeking experiences with their loved ones (multi-gen traveller). I see that their altruism is somehow rising above individual needs.

For people staying with Ultima Collection for the first time, what do you think will make an immediate impression? How do you ensure that they will want to come back again?
Our entire value proposition is a product that is in no way “standardized”, rather completely customized for each guest, every single time. We serve one family or party at a time. This allows us to focus all our attention on them.

We prioritize ensuring a high level of privacy to offer our guests an exclusive and discreet experience unlike any other. We understand that privacy is paramount for those seeking sanctuary from the demands of everyday life, and we are committed to upholding the utmost discretion in all aspects of our services. From private accommodations nestled amidst tranquil landscapes to secluded dining experiences tailored to individual preferences, every detail is meticulously crafted to safeguard our guests' privacy and enhance their sense of serenity.

Our dedicated team is trained to respect and uphold the confidentiality of each guest, ensuring that their stay with us is not only memorable but also entirely private. We believe that true luxury lies in the ability to retreat into a world of tranquillity and seclusion, and it is our privilege to provide our guests with an experience that exceeds their expectations while safeguarding their privacy at every turn.

(Related: Dining in paradise at a private island in the Maldives)

What are your travel plans for the rest of the year? Can you also give us a peek into how you personally travel?

  • Nihi on Sumba Island. Every single one of my friends and colleagues is blown away by what they have created there. James McBride is a living legend in our industry, and I have been fortunate enough to spend some time with him here and there. I cannot wait to see what he and his team have created.


  • The Dolomites. I have long wanted to go there. Recently, my friend Chef Norbert Niederkoffler opened his new three Michelin star restaurant in Bruneck. I'm eager to visit, reconnect with him, and witness the incredible creations. I am also super excited to see the re-birth of Rosa Alpina, from my friends Hugo Pizzinini, designed by the great Jean-Michel Gathy.


  • Villa Mabrouka in Tangier. Formerly Yves Saint Laurent’s and Pierre Bergé’s home in Tangier, Jasper Conran has converted this beauty into his latest triumph. My good friend Luca Ravera runs it, along with L’Hotel Marrakech, and I cannot wait to see it.


  • My country house, in rural and mountainous Serbia. This is the one place on Earth that I am completely connected to. I look forward to spending a few days there this summer with family and friends.