Phillippe Zuber

Every issue, GRAZIA USA highlights Game Changers, who inspire, educate, and celebrate individuality, beauty, and style. Meet Philippe Zuber, the successful Kerzner International CEO who pushes boundaries and explores the world.

I always knew that my passion was travel, that never-ending story that grows you as an individual. It grows your soul; it opens your eyes. I’m so lucky because I started to travel as soon as I was able to work and to live on my own. I could try to find an explanation for it — “It comes from my parents or it comes from my grandparents.” But in my family, I’m the only one who travels so extensively.

I come from a background and family in which entrepreneurship always has been the key element. I’m lucky to be part of an organization, Kerzner International, that has such great bones; Sol Kerzner was a maverick in the industry. He totally broke the mold, making something absolutely unique and special. I must say that the organization itself is extremely entrepreneurial, and we have a startup mentality. My duty as a CEO is to make sure that we keep this legacy and mindset going, that we push boundaries and push people to go beyond what a hospitality company should offer. I’m very proud that each One&Only is a brand-new One&Only. We don’t do cookie cutter or copy and paste — every time we start with a blank page. I don’t think that that many companies in the hospitality space are as ambitious as we are.

Our brands are extremely emotionally driven, which is really, really key to our approach to protecting the brand. As an organization, we did something that I don’t think any organization has committed to: We decided to cap the growth of One&Only to 35 standalone, unique and bespoke properties across the globe. Why that number? Because we want to make sure that One&Only Resorts remain as ultra-luxury destinations for like-minded people, for ultra- luxury networks of individuals, and that we as an organization control the quality and make sure that each One&Only stays true to our brand. Right now, we have 12 properties, but we have a very strong pipeline. In 2023, we will be opening three One&Only Resorts: One&Only Kéa Island and One&Only Aesthesis, both in Greece, and One&Only One Za’abeel in Dubai. We have eight more in development and need only to secure the last 12, so this list is getting smaller, and we are making sure that the next ones that will join the collection will be exciting and unique.

We are so much more than a hospitality organization. For example, One&Only Gorilla’s Nest in Rwanda is an absolutely ultra-luxury resort that gives you access to the mountain gorilla and we are unlocking Rwanda. Many, many guests were never ever thinking of going to Rwanda. It was extremely niche. But now people say if One&Only is there, this is my time: I want to go to Rwanda; I want to experience that absolutely beautiful country and I want to be part of this journey. My family and I did that as our first big vacation after COVID. We want to test it again to make sure that it was not just a dream, that it was really real.

We have a lot of lot of local initiatives that especially support the communities that have a One&Only. Countries have different requirements and needs, so we give each of the resorts a lot of flexibility and opportunity to be able to adjust and adapt locally and to make sure that we impact communities in a positive way.

We work with a very sophisticated clientele that is so well traveled and knows luxury. The destination is an important element, but after that it’s the amenities, services and how you make sure that it’s becoming a very comfortable, memorable and unique journey. Our approach to luxury is that we make it extremely simple and very personal.

And that’s why it’s so successful — because we’re not working based on standards, but at the pace of our clients. So if you want quiet time, we give you quiet time. If you want to be entertained, we entertain you. If you want to have five activities per day — windsurfing, mountain biking, horse riding, polo — we give that to you. This gives you the feeling that you are part of an ultra-luxe club, which is really priceless.

Travel is a mindset, one that I’m addicted to. I often travel by dreaming. The more you travel, the more you become an expert and the more you fall in love with it.

Read GRAZIA USA’s Winter issue featuring cover star Lizzy Caplan: