Janu: Aman’s New “Energetic” Hotel Brand

Filed Under: Hotels

The major global hotel groups love to launch new brands. This is primarily a way to lure investors to open new hotels — “hey, we have this amazing opportunity for you to open the first property of our new lifestyle brand in X city.” As consumers it can sometimes be difficult to tell the difference between these brands, given how many they are.

Well, Aman, easily one of the most exclusive hotel groups in the world, has announced that they’re launching a new brand… and I’m skeptical.

What makes Aman hotels different?

Before talking about the new brand they’re launching, I think it’s worth briefly talking about Aman Resorts, and what makes them different, because it’s valuable context. Aman has about three dozen resorts in some incredible destinations, and the way I see it, what makes Aman special is:

  • The locations — many properties are off the beaten track, in locations you wouldn’t otherwise visit
  • The size of properties — while the sizes vary by property, most Aman properties have just a few dozen rooms, so it’s an intimate experience
  • The service — service is pretty consistently great, as you’ll generally not be asked your room number, or to sign anything during your stay
  • Insider experiences — they really have a focus on giving you access to things you may not otherwise have access to, in a way that other hotel groups haven’t done

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to stay at quite a few Amans, including Aman Sveti Stefan, Amanzoe, Amangalla, Amanwella, Aman Tokyo, etc.

My issue, to put it bluntly, is that I feel like Aman has given up and is just cashing in at this point. Rather than opening properties in off the beaten track destinations, they are instead focusing on just hitting tourist hotspots — they recently opened a property in Kyoto, and there are properties in the pipeline for Bangkok, Los Cabos, Miami, and New York.

The only “unique” destination where they’re opening resorts is… Saudi Arabia.

All of this is to say that I think they have some amazing hotels, though I also feel like they just aren’t being creative like they used to be.

Janu, Aman’s new hotel brand

Janu will be a “sister brand” of Aman, and “will deliver harmony through the dynamic balance of opposites.” As it’s described:

While Aman is synonymous with its Sanskrit translation, ‘peace’, Janu stands for ‘soul’; Aman is a sanctuary, whereas Janu is connectedness; Aman offers refined respite, whereas Janu offers an energetic vibe for those seeking greater purpose with inner contentment.

Janu shares its DNA with its legendary elder sister but Janu strikes out on a complementary path where genuine human interaction, playful expression and social wellness are at the core of the experience. Janu will create environments that nurture purposeful connection to bring balance to the head and heart and allow creative expression.

As Aman Chairman and CEO, Vladislav Doronin, describes the new venture:

“The overlap between Aman and its sibling is mutually beneficial; together they offer a total solution for the fluctuating needs and desires of today’s global travel cognoscenti. We saw a white space in the market, and we want to push the hotel industry into a new sphere. What with today’s modern fast-paced society, which has seen human connection and communication redefined by the digital world, we wanted to create a new hotel brand with a soul and with the aim of kick-starting human interaction again.”

The first locations for Janu Hotels

Janu will be launching in 2022, and three hotels are already under construction:

  • Janu Montenegro will open in 2022; this will be a sister property to Aman Sveti Stefan
  • Janu Al Ula Saudi Arabia will open in 2022; this is part of Aman’s current resort development in Saudi Arabia
  • Janu Tokyo will open in 2022; Aman already has a hotel in Tokyo

Of those three, Janu Montenegro will offer a serviced residence concept.

Rendering of Janu Montenegro exterior

Rendering of Janu Montenegro pool

Rendering of Janu Montenegro lobby

Rendering of Janu Montenegro guest room

Rendering of Janu Montenegro serviced residence

My take on Janu Hotels

First of all, it sure sounds to me like Aman hired all the same millennial consultants as the major hotel groups did with launching their new “lifestyle” brands. They used all the buzz words — “greater purpose,” “genuine human interaction,” “playful expression,” “social wellness,” “nurture purposeful connection,” “bring balance,” and “creative expression.”

The renderings of Janu Montenegro look beautiful, though I am not getting too excited for two reasons.

First of all, as I mentioned above, I feel like Aman has largely sold out — they’re not the core of the brand they once were, and they’re choosing to follow the competition rather than continue on their own path.

Second of all, it sounds like Janu will be the exact opposite of Aman. I love the Aman concept, so it would be one thing if they were going for larger hotels that are somewhat more budget friendly than Amans.

But with Janu they’re going for an “energetic vibe.” What I love about Aman is how peaceful the properties are. To me, Janu sounds more like a W Hotel than an Aman.

In many ways I guess this is smart from Aman’s perspective. They won’t be cannibalizing the Aman brand too much, since Janu will be very different. But at the same time, why should we believe that Aman will do a better job running an energetic lifestyle brand than any of the other major hotel groups?

I get this appeals to a lot of younger people, but personally I love a resort that feels peaceful, and that doesn’t seem to be what Janu is going for.

Bottom line

In 2022 Aman will be launching a sister brand, Janu, which in many ways is exactly the opposite of Aman — it will be about an energetic vibe rather than about peace.

These could still be awesome properties, though I’ll be curious to see how many rooms each property has, and what kind of rates they try to charge.

In general I have a lot of questions about the business model — Aman doesn’t have the same distribution as other massive hotel groups, which isn’t a problem when you have a few dozen rooms to fill. Does that change if we’re talking about hotels with hundreds of room?

What do you make of Janu?

  1. Agree—the new brand doesn’t sound very exciting or as path-breaking as the original Aman.

    Wonder what’s the link to the management and Sanskrit. The inspiration behind it all would be interesting to know—especially from the original founders perspective

  2. “I feel like Aman has given up and is just cashing in at this point. Rather than opening properties in off the beaten track destinations, they are instead focusing on just hitting tourist hotspots”

    So they’re going to stop opening resorts (where the hotel *is* the destination) and instead go back to doing what hoteliers have always done: open hotels in places where people anyway want to visit.

    Sounds sensible to me. Then again, I hate resorts almost as much as I hate cruise liners…

  3. RNS – I don’t think any of Adrian Zecha’s other hotel projects (Regent, Chedi…Azerai) has a Sanskrit name. Zecha was also caught in a long legal battle with Vladislav Doronin, whose name you see here… So this name probably isn’t the founder’s idea.

    Janu is probably just chosen to match Aman, the way drag queens dress up veterans or family on RuPaul’s Drag Race, and then have to name them in a familial convention with themselves. Alaska created Nebraska and Doronin’s Aman created Janu.

  4. Got the email this morning and was in complete awe / disbelief that brands STILL come up with that kind of communication plans. To your point, I just barfed seeing they used every possible (outdated) buzzword. Total turn off as far as I’m concerned!

  5. As much as I would like to try Amans, I immediately lost interest after they opened hotels in Tokyo and New York. Their unique niche in the market was lost.

  6. I’m not sure this is bad news, hopefully it will allow the Russians to channel their evident desire to create expensive nightclub-hotels into a brand other than Aman–Aman Miami, for example, is such a betrayal of the brand. My immediate fear though is selfish, that they’ll start giving guest passes to Janu guests to use the Aman Sveti Stefan grounds.

  7. Will it be cheaper? Because those rooms at the Montenegro property do look beautiful. And the issue with expensive but “millennial” brands are that young people tend to not be able to afford them. Just look at Barney’s closing nationawide

  8. Next they’ll be inviting instagram “influencers” to completely wreck whatever remains of the brand at this “Janu”.

  9. This is clearly a money grab. With that said, I’m happy they started another brand as it would be travesty to have these much larger footprint hotels as Aman resorts.

    With that said, any amanjunkie can tell you only visit the Amans (Especially the ones in Southeast Asia) that were opened by Zacha as other ones just don’t have the same feel.

  10. While parts of Montenegro are pretty, it’s not somewhere I would return. I guess it gets overflow from Croatia tourism but I can’t see two Aman properties thriving there at their prices.

  11. So much with you on those boilerplate millennial buzzwords. It always promises the world, but in fact is implemented as some weird and often uncomfortable gimmik (“so unique!”). Some of these traits are admirable, but they would do better to show it then to talk it up to a market burnt out on the idea.

    Even though this will probably be a property in an entirely different class as far as luxury, its not a new or particularly interesting idea, coming from a brand which itself was built on a understated but well thought out idea.

  12. I completely agree with you, Lucky. In my opinion, AMAN Resort has lost its true-self after Adrian Zecha’s departure. Zecha is like Steve Jobs in ultra luxury hotels with a very unique vision and mission. Doronin only acts as the person who runs the business, not personally attach to the brand and its vision.

    Once AMAN Resorts opened its urban resort (AMAN Tokyo and soon-to-open AMAN New York), the brand has lost its core value, like Cliff said. Through Zecha’s personal touch and vision, he wanted people to experience what AMAN Resorts all about and the flow was natural, which bring people with money to AMAN. While Doronin’s objective is clearly to get the profit from people with money by using the brand.

    So, from the business point of view, it needs to grow and brings more revenue (and profit), which I get it. From the brand point of view, AMAN Resorts is no longer AMAN. And now with Janu, it’s even more obvious what Doronin is after. There’s a difference between the person who believes in and live the brand (he doesn’t need to be the salesman yet able to sell the product effortlessly), and the person who only cares about the bottom line (who needs all the effort to sell the product).

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *