Olivier Jolivet, outgoing CEO of Aman Resorts Group, is now in charge of Como Investment Holdings and is a private investor in the new Hotel at the La Baraquette resort, as well as being chairman of Baraquette Resort Services.

Career in a nutshell...

Olivier spent his childhood in the Alps, and began his career at management consultants McKinsey & Co. after studying in Germany, the United Kingdom and France. He then turned to the hospitality industry, in particular to Club Med, where he joined as chief financial officer for Asia in their Singapore offices in 1999. Six years later, Olivier was promoted to the position of Director of Group-wide Asset Management and Development in Paris. He then joined Aman in 2008 as Executive Director. His brief consisted of accelerating the development of the group throughout the world, as well as diversifying the group's activities, from resorts to different ‘urban concepts’. He was CEO of the Aman Group (www.aman.com) for the past three years before joining Como Investment Holdings.

Why would you resign as CEO of a company like Aman Resorts?

I left the Aman Resorts Group after 8 years of loyal service. I wanted to give myself some time to work on the La Baraquette project before joining Como Investments Holdings, a well-known family business in Asia, which has many hotels in the region (Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental ...) as well as the Como Hotels& Resorts brand. It is the sharing of this entrepreneurial culture that motivated my decision to move, with the possibility of simultaneously launching my own investments, starting with the La Baraquette project, which will be a disruptive concept in the lifestyle sector.

The Thau Lagoon, south of Montpellier - aren’t you attempting to sell something completely unknown?

That’s exactly why it’s so exciting. In Asia, a tourist destination can be created quickly around an exceptional site - as long as it’s a resort project that is well integrated into its environment and run by a good hotel operator. So why not in France? In this particular case, the Thau Lagoon is a natural paradise and the perfect place to relax and recharge. The oysters and seafood are delicious. The Occitania region is beautiful, with large preserved areas of nature. For me, it’s like taking the Arcachon Basin and adding oyster farmers and 300 days of sunshine and locating it all on the shores of the Mediterranean. For a resort such as La Baraquete, it really is the ideal location.

What can you tell us more about the Baraquette project?

Developed by the Barcelona firm Slow Life Architects, it is an innovative lifestyle concept, located between port and vineyard, positioned as a Seafront Vineyard Resort. The resort includes a 5-star hotel with exceptional views over the lagoon, large villas, apartments, a concierge, shops, restaurants, a nautical club, a real vineyard and its very own wine academy.

What is a ‘Seafront Vineyard Resort’?

It is a ‘mixed experiences concept’, which combines a beautiful seaside location with vineyard experiences. It’s the first of its kind in Europe. These concepts work well in South Africa but are very difficult to implement in Europe, as there is so little beachfront land available for this type of development.

What is the hotel management concept of La Baraquette?

It’s what I call a ‘satellite hotel’ hotel concept (as we created in Bali or Boutan with Aman Resorts). We start with a central hotel called ‘La Baraquette’, which offers a myriad of activities and experiences within a maximum radius of 1h30, some of which offer accommodation (I think the Convent d'Hérépian for fly fishing, the Château de La Redorte for truffle hunting, swimming with dolphins with Stéphane Mifsud in the Mediterranean, etc.). We don’t try to differentiate our experiences, we simply create different experiences.

How will the experiences offered at La Baraquette be different?

Through the authenticity and history of the local art of living. Learning to fish with an incredible teacher in the rivers around Hérépian, for example, would be unique. Tasting oysters with an oyster farmer on the Thau Lagoon or hunting for truffles with an expert in the Minervois. None of these experiences exists yet - but they would represent a form of ‘rural luxury’.