This Is What the Future of Sustainable Hospitality Looks Like
A dynasty to be reckoned with: Evan Kwee is the third generation to carry on his family's legacy, setting new standards for sustainability and natural luxury with innovative hotel projects like Patina Maldives.
November 19 2022
On a vision journey with Evan Kwee
His passion for exceptional real estate projects and luxury hotels was practically in his DNA: as the grandson of Henry Kwee Hian Liong, the founder of Pontiac Land Group (PLG), Evan Kwee is well on his way to conquering the international market with his forward-looking concepts – and thus carrying on the legacy of his influential family.
The recently opened Patina Maldives follows a completely sustainable luxury concept. © Georg Roske
A Singaporean dynasty
Founded in 1961 by his grandfather, Pontiac Land Group is one of Singapore's leading property developers. Its subsidiary Capella Hotel Group is also firmly entrenched in the hotel industry with a number of well-known properties. As vice president of PLG and vice chairman of Capella Hotel Group, Evan Kwee is responsible for some of the group's most forward-looking projects and is spearheading the family empire's expansion into the global market – no small feat, but a project the smart entrepreneur, who is the third generation to run the family business, is highly passionate about. "Hotels are in my blood," says Kwee, who has always had a passion for hospitality and luxury accommodations. Right now, he's working on implementing the group's largest development project to date: an 88-hectare coup of three new hotels in the Fari Islands of the Maldives.
Open villas overlooking the water, spacious terraces and private pools add to the comfort of the luxury resort Patina Maldives and leave nothing to be desired. © Jorge Roske
"Hotels are in my blood."
With the opening of the first two properties – a Ritz-Carlton, the first in the Maldives, and the in-house Patina – Kwee was already able to rake in first successes last year. If all goes to plan, the third property will follow in 2023. For Kwee, the pandemic was a sign he was on the right track: "I think the Covid lockdowns proved how much people love to travel. Luxury travel is making a comeback right now, and we're happy to be positioned in that market."
The furniture is timeless, cozy and invites you to hang out, converse with other guests and listen to the sound of the sea. © Jorge Roske
Hotels with a future
That Kwee has a knack for the industry is indisputable. Capella Hotels and Resorts was named the second best hotel brand in the world in 2020 by Travel + Leisure, and the Capella Ubud in Bali was named the best hotel in the world. The group's list of future projects is impressive – twelve more hotels are planned by 2025 – and judging by the Patina in the Maldives, some of them will set new standards in terms of sustainability and unique luxury. Indeed, the new property on the Fari Islands impresses with a wholly holistic approach. For Kwee, it was hugely important to create a hotel that was not merely the hottest new opening in the area, but one that would start a movement. "We wanted to demonstrate that the highest level of sustainability can also come with the highest level of luxury," Kwee says. "There's this assumption that environmentally conscious accommodations can only exist by sacrificing experiences. With the Patina, we want to demonstrate that you can experience a wholly luxurious trip and still be highly environmentally responsible."
The design at Patina Maldives is inspired by the natural charm of the islands in the Indian Ocean. ©Jorge Roske
"We're demonstrating that the highest level of sustainability can also come with the highest level of luxury."
A progressive project
The Patina Maldives also embodies the unspoiled charm of the islands on a visual level. The colors and textures are reflected in the natural design of the house, which shines in bright tones and clean lines. To promote the holistic well-being of guests, a wellness concept called "Flow" has been developed, which includes fitness and relaxation as well as sleep and nutrition. The spa builds on an interplay of time-honored practices and cutting-edge technology, while the hotel's twelve gastronomic concepts bow to the islands' culinary heritage.
Guests should feel completely at ease at Patina Maldives. © Jorge Roske
In addition to a restaurant dedicated entirely to plant-based cuisine, a fusion concept of Japanese and Nordic cuisine and an ode to South American barbecue also stand out. Evan Kwee doesn't want to take credit for the company's successes alone, however, "it's not a one-man show," the 45-year-old pioneer stresses to Forbes, "neither in direction, strategy, or actual execution." But the revolutionary vision stems entirely from Kwee's mind. And that's what seems to be aiding the Singaporean dynasty in making the leap into the international big leagues.
Fari Islands, North Malé Atoll, 20026, Maldives
Tel: +960 4000 555
Price: doubles from approx. €1,850
This article appeared in the Falstaff TRAVEL issue Fall 2022.