News & Reviews News North Island leaving Wilderness Safaris….to join Marriot

Here’s some words I never even thought about, let alone that I’d have to write them.  Yes, North Island, a property charging nearly £7,000/n for a standard room, has decided to leave its original founders and management company, to move over to Marriot.  If that sounds as incongruous as Apple offering cheap products or Theresa May saying something sensible, then you would be correct.  I would like to play it cool and say I don’t know how I feel about it, but I know exactly how I do; like my nan just came over for a cup of tea, but instead strangled my dog.

Rumour has it the animals starting killing themselves on hearing the news.

Whilst I have only been there twice, I have a huge deal of fondness for North Island – it is a place rightfully earning the moniker of unique. Its low villa count, vast size, conservation, beautiful beaches, superb, spacious villas and excellent service are just a few of its many outstanding points.  Along with Laucala, it is one of only a few beach properties in the entire world that offer something nowhere else either can or will.  Yet it seems the desire for higher occupancy rather than higher quality of guest has kicked in.  There is only so far you can push prices up before even the super rich refuse to pay it, and North Island tried their hand and lost.

When I first visited Laucala in ’16, for 7 nights it was roughly the same price as North Island (as North has stay 7, pay 6), yet North increases its prices somewhere between 8-10% per annum, so now a night at North Island is suddenly ~$9k/n, meaning 7 nights is $54k vs $42k for Laucala. I love both, but Laucala begins to look like a bargain – and those are not easy words coming from this cheapskate.

So here we are, in a world where spend on luxury experiences is increasing, but one of the finest properties, North Island, cannot survive without joining a major hotel chain that has a focus on the average.  We’ve lost one of the good ones today and I fear it will be a long time before we see something similar.  After all, the founders latest project was Miavana.

Of course, it could all turn out to be fine.  After all, I am no psychic and if I were, writing a blog would not be how I was spending my time.  I’d spend it annoying atheists by convincing them I was Jesus.

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Tom Cahalan

Written by Tom Cahalan on 22nd Feb '19

Dorsia Travel’s co-founder Tom Cahalan’s take on travel is reliably candid. Here’s his take on what’s good, bad, and luxurious.

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