The women behind Small Luxury Hotels of the World

Celebrating International Women’s Day, Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH), a collection of independently bespoke hotels, sheds light on the vision and influence of independently-minded women who played pivotal roles in shaping the collection and the success of their respective properties

From hotel owners to general managers, these women represent the true essence of SLH, with their unique stories, passion for sustainability and commitment to providing exceptional guest experiences around the globe. Here, #legend introduces you just to a handful of the remarkable female hotel owners and operators who make up the fabric of the SLH brand:

Samornpun Somnam – Owner of rainforest retreat, Keemala, Thailand

Inspired by four fictional Phuketian tribes, Samornpun Somnam has instilled the Keemala experience with a deep-rooted respect for the resort’s surrounding rainforest, local communities, and the planet in general. As a fourth generation Phuketian, she wants to show visitors her ‘local’ and thoughtful Phuket, beyond the picturesque beaches and tourist attractions, highlighting the region’s longstanding unique traditions through immersive, meaningful experiences –  from community based mangrove restoration, tree planting, and tours of Phang Nga Bay with Phuket eco-tourism pioneer John Gray, to engaging guests in a ‘Natural Lifestyle’ concept through a weekly complimentary schedule of activities, such as garden tours, folding pandan leaves, tai chi and meditation.

Website: Keemala

Angela O’Connell – Owner of eco-retreat Chalets at Blackheath, Australia

Opened in March 2022, Chalets at Blackheath was the vision of luxury accommodation and nature enthusiast Angela O’Connell, who is also the resort’s General Manager. The property’s design is both sustainable and luxurious, using recycled and sustainable materials throughout the chalets. Angela’s commitment to providing an exceptional and conscious retreat experience in the natural wilderness shines through every element of Chalets at Blackheath, creating a uniquely Australian experience with heart.

Website: Chalets at Blackheath

Geraldine Frater Wyeth – Owner of Provençal property Le Mas Barossa, SA, Australia

Geraldine Frater Wyeth, the visionary behind new SLH member, Le Mas Barossa, brings a unique perspective to the SLH collection. Having spent much of her life between France and Australia, Geraldine, who has a French mother and Australian father, wanted to bring her combined love for both countries to the heart of the Barossa. Growing up between the two cultures, it was important to her that Le Mas reflected the Provençal way of life in a truly Australian setting, bringing together a culmination of all her travel, loves and experiences. The result is a unique boutique retreat where rustic farmhouse meets fabulous French chic.

Website: Le Mas Barossa

Denise Omurca, Owner and Managing Director of Lost Lindenberg, Bali

Denise Omurca is the creative and passionate force behind Lost Lindenberg. Hailing from Frankfurt, the managing director interweaves her rich restaurant background with her profound commitment to social and ecological responsibility to drive the vision for Lost Lindenberg, with the overarching goal of reshaping the hospitality industry and redefining how the world travels. The result is an eight-room property flanked by nature, shared surfing, memorable adventures, deep cultural immersion, a communal table, and homegrown pineapples. It’s somewhere guests won’t want to leave.

Website: Lost Lindenberg

Teresa Unterthiner – Owner of Considerate Collection property Forestis, Italy

Born and raised in South Tyrol, Teresa Unterthiner holds a life-long appreciation for the power and beauty of her natural surroundings. Driven by her desire to protect the Dolomites and inspired by the elements of the alpine forest, Teresa and the Hinteregger family transformed an Austro-Hungarian sanatorium into a summit-level sustainable hideaway for back-to-nature seeking guests. Standing on a sunny southern slope of the Plose mountain, Forestis is an exceptional example of a considerate hotel, running on 100 per cent renewable energy, operating on a zero-waste ethos, and having been built using locally sourced, durable, natural materials such as pine wood and stones of the Ploseberg.

Website: Forestis

Valerie Jongeneel – Owner of Dutch gastrofarm, Op Oost, Netherlands

In a windswept corner of the Wadden Islands, Valerie Jongeneel met chef Joram Timmerman while collecting oysters on the mudflats of Texel – a wildly beautiful place not far from where their converted farmhouse and seaweed barn, Op Oost, now stands. Valerie offers guests a beautifully down-to-earth yet luxurious experience in her Dutch gastro-farm, where the sounds of the Wadden Sea can be heard from the twelve spacious garden suites and lodges. 

Together with Joram, who guides guests on private oyster picking tours and wild foraging sessions along the shoreline, she lovingly nurtures the surrounding farmland with a ‘just as nature intended’ approach, and ensures everything is foraged, farmed and fermented within 150 metres of the property. Valerie has also put great thought into every eco-conscious detail around the property, which supports the hotel’s Green Key Gold certification – from the Coco Mat mattresses to the homemade in-room vegan cosmetics and dried reusable flower arrangements.

Website: Op Oost

Oana Aristide – Owner of eco-friendly Aristide Hotel, Hermoupolis, Greece

Celebrated author and economist turned hotelier, Oana Aristide firmly believes that it is humankind’s moral obligation to treat the natural world with care and respect. After writing her climate-fiction novel Under the Blue (published by Serpent’s Tail in 2021), which was one of The Sunday Times’ novels of the year, Oana and her sister Jasmin opened Aristide Hotel, a striking eco art hotel on the lesser-known Cycladic island of Syros. The plastic-free property is housed within a beautifully restored neoclassical mansion in the historical centre of Hermoupolis, with a dedicated art gallery, which hosts regular exhibitions of resident artists.

Website: Aristide Hotel

Khin Win Omar – Owner of boutique hotel Gangtey Lodge, Bhutan

Khin Win Omar is the owner of Gangtey Lodge – a peaceful 12-suite property perched high above the protected Phobjikha Valley in the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan. At Gangtey Lodge sustainability and conscious living are a way of life. Through dedicated community programmes, supporting the 17th Century Gangtey Monastery and working in collaboration with the Royal Society for Protection of Nature, Khin and Gangtey Lodge are committed to helping protect the culture, traditions and biodiversity of Phobjikha Valley. When Khin and her husband built the lodge, she wanted to create a retreat that allowed travellers to break their itinerary, to pause and understand life in a traditional farming community in rural Bhutan. When embarking on the project and choosing the site and design, she put prominence on respecting the architectural heritage and engaging with the local community in a way that gave back and supported local.

Website: Gangtey Lodge

Also see: Mandarin Oriental, Canouan offers private jet transfers between Barbados and Canouan Island

In this Story: #travel / #hotels & resorts