With its global portfolio that spans across Asia-Pacific, Naumi Hotels is far from your average boutique accommodation as it teases the senses with delightful features that begin to tell a story of each hotel’s surroundings.
For instance, the stunning 24-carat gold leaf wall that brings Naumi Auckland Airport Hotel’s reception to life is designed to resemble the New Zealand native Tui bird’s feathers.
A design-led experience
Founded in 2007 in Singapore, the brand has since expanded into Australia and New Zealand after recognising a gap in the market for design-led lifestyle hotels that are whimsical, experiential and innovative, catering to the ever-evolving needs of today’s discerning traveller.
The distinct personality of each property reflects the bold vision of Gaurang Jhunjhnuwala, CEO of Naumi Hotels Australia and New Zealand, who is the individual behind the creation of the hotels that have sprung up in Wellington, Queenstown and more recently Sydney.
“In Australia, we came across a fabulous location right on Sydney’s George Street and saw a great chance to put our signature flair on a former hotel and transform it to something special,” Jhunjhnuwala reveals.
“I have Indian roots, but I was born in Hong Kong, have lived in Singapore and New Zealand – really I suppose I am a global citizen. This mix of countries and cultures has definitely influenced my brand, Naumi Hotels, most clearly in design terms,” he explains. “The colours, sights and features of these diverse countries are very different, and this translates into our bold, one-of-a-kind design.”
Indeed, the Lola Rouge Restaurant in Naumi Studio Wellington reflects the CEO’s interest in reinterpreting aspects of his global travels in unconventional ways that transport the visitor to another time and place – in this case the ports of Saigon in 1966 – accompanied by a modern Asian cuisine.
“I’m inspired to merge different influences from my travels without being biased towards a particular colour scheme or theme, and that results in a look and feel that is unique, not ‘the norm’,” Jhunjhnuwala says.
As a result, the company has been globally celebrated for its portfolio of hotels that is reported to offer an “intimate yet ultra-luxury feel” with Naumi Auckland Airport leading the way with its impressive array of industry awards and accolades.
The impacts of the pandemic
In Wellington, visitors can spend time at the Lola Rouge Bar or in The Parlour, or endeavour to explore the dark floral paradise that surrounds the portraits of Lady Naumi and the sailor – the fictional owners of Naumi Studio Wellington, whose story extends into the hotel’s lobby with an uplifting floral sculpture to remind us of love’s eternal nature.
The visually intriguing spaces cater for today’s tourists, who have more choice and expectations from the places they stay at, Jhunjhnuwala says. Naumi is in fact pronounced ‘Know Me’ to encourage visitors to explore the unique philosophy behind each property.
“Hotels have to offer unique spaces and experiences within themselves. The pandemic has accelerated this; everything is heavily researched, and travel and time spent with loved ones is even more sacred,” he explains. “We’re seeing people spending a lot more time with us when they do travel – stays have gone from two to three days to a full week.”
One of the biggest impacts COVID-19 had on the business was assisting in government-managed isolation for returning residents and, more recently, curating experiences that appeal to local guests. “Most of our hotels are still operating amid strict border measures, and so we’ve pivoted to attract domestic tourists – it’s all about staycations and deep neighbourhood discovery.
“We have been focused on offering our guests the experiences they want, curating hyper local explorations of the area on our doorstep, whether that’s a vineyard in Queenstown or the hottest restaurant in Wellington.”
The future for Naumi Hotels
Optimistic about the changes that have already happened over the course of the year, Jhunjhnuwala is adamant that, as a globalised society, it is only a matter of time before tourism will return.
“Travel, holidaying, and meeting with friends and family are all things that are very close to the human spirit. And we’ve seen during this long pandemic that the urge to travel has not dissipated – in fact, there’s a huge amount of pent-up demand,” he asserts.
“I’m looking forward to people from all over the world coming to our hotels to get together and enjoy the Naumi experience once again.”