German club resorts operator Aldiana aims to grow profitably again with new management, more properties, a fresher look and improved products.
The club holidays specialist has been brought back to profit this year by Dutch-based property group LMEY, which acquired it in 2016, after years of losses, under-investment, management changes and a succession of different owners that led to turnover of under €100 million in 2016. Thomas Cook Group last year acquired a 42% in its former subsidiary (which it sold off several years ago) and now markets the clubs as part of its hotel portfolio.
Aldiana is heading for a comeback, according to Bart Rijnhout, who ran the company for the last few months and managed the financial turnaround. “We have bought a diamond and polished it. Now we have to let the brand sparkle,” he declared.
This restart will be the job of the new management duo, Stefanie Brandes and Patrick Brändle, who were both previously with TUI’s club operator Robinson and have been in charge since the start of November.
They will benefit from two new resorts that will join the current portfolio of eight clubs in the coming months. In December the former Robinson in Ampflwang in the Austrian Alps will re-open as an Aldiana ready for the winter season. The newly-built Aldiana Calabria, in southern Italy, will then open next April ready for summer 2019.
But the prospects for two other planned new clubs remain unclear. Aldiana’s first resort in a long-haul destination, the Club Cabarete in the Dominican Republic, will not open in 2019 after a series of building delays. There is also no opening date at present for the Aldiana Club Schweizerhof in the Swiss resort of Vulpera, a former Robinson Club that is being fully modernised.
In contrast, Aldiana’s other changes are all up and running. The long-standing logo, featuring two dolphins, has been freshened up with a new design and new colours. “The new identity is the start of a major programme to rejuvenate the entire club concept,” explained Brandes. “We want to address a new and younger target group.”
Aldiana is introducing new products to win more customers, especially families, with a fresher ‘lifestyle’ concept based around sport, gastronomy and wellness. Resorts will gain ‘Welldiana’ spa areas run by in-house experts, high-tech fitness studios, better-known sports trainers and gourmet buffets. There will be new kids’ clubs and beach clubs at the coastal resorts.
However, Aldiana will continue to focus on German-speaking customers rather than trying to expand the customer base to other nationalities, as rival Robinson is attempting in several locations.