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Elite Talk with Koh Samui’s Operations Manager, Paranee Chanyuenyong

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Paranee Chanyuenyong, affectionately called Khun Yim at work, is the backbone of the team at Koh Samui. Besides making sure that guests are well taken care of, from the first enquiry to the end of their stay, she ensures that all the villas are running smoothly and guest requests are handled efficiently. Operations Manager Khun Yim gives us a glimpse into the workings of the Elite Havens’ villa network in Koh Samui.

Elite Havens: Hi, Khun Yim. What does your role as Operations Manager entail?

Khun Yim: Apart from making sure that each of our villas is maintained as per the Elite standard, I also take care of Guest Services. I start building a relationship before their arrival by emailing them, asking for pre-arrival requests or any service they may need. Once the guests check-in, I try to make it a point to go visit them, further cementing our bond. I love doing this, it’s always great to meet our guests and put a face to a name. It shows them that we care and go out of our way to give personal service.

EH: Isn’t it difficult and time-consuming to go meet every single guest?

KY: We endeavour to ensure that someone from our team goes and meets each guest. Unfortunately, my schedule sometimes doesn’t allow me to do so, but the Villa Manager is always waiting at the villa to welcome them. However, I try to visit at least once, maybe on their first or second day, sometimes with a little token to show our appreciation. These are usually local gifts, a little something like banana chips or Koh Samui’s famous coconut chips.

Sometimes guests have queries about recommendations for activities in Samui or if there are any special events such as festivals during their stay. As part of the Elite Concierge service, I give them a local’s insight into Samui and where to head to, basis their interests.

EH: What is your top recommendation?

KY: A must-visit place is Hin Ta and Hin Yai, or Grandfather and Grandmother rocks. Framed against the backdrop of a stunning blue ocean, these are natural rock formations with an interesting legend behind them. These rocks are unique to Koh Samui and a great tourist attraction, minus the jostling crowds.

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Elite Talk with the GM of Koh Samui, Milos Kosanovic

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Milos Kosanovic had been in the hospitality industry for over a decade when he joined Elite Havens as General Manager, Koh Samui. A watersports enthusiast who was born in Sweden and grew up in Croatia, he chose to make Koh Samui his home after a diving trip around the island. Here, he tells us about his journey and how rewarding it has been.

Elite Havens: Hi, Milos. How long have you been with Elite Havens?

Milos Kosanovic: I’ve been with Elite Havens since November 2018, when they acquired my company.

EH: Tell us a little about your career journey.

MK: I have been a part of this industry since 2007. I started off with real estate and sales, but increasingly found that customers who bought properties from us needed property management services too. And as the global financial crisis hit, sales of new properties dried up but rentals continued. Recognising a shifting market, I modified my business model. In 2010, I was hired by what is now Panacea Retreat, and we set up new systems and management teams. We completely refurbished the villas and also did a lot of work branding them because the owner had very high aspirations for them.

I stayed there for five years as the General Manager of the estate before deciding to open up my own management company, SILK, with several other partners. Our growth was rapid and we reached a quantum of 15 villas at one stage. We managed and marketed the villas, which were limited to Koh Samui as a destination. In 2018, Elite Havens acquired my company and I joined the management team here.

EH: What does your role at Elite Havens entail?

MK: I’m the General Manager for Koh Samui and that involves a lot of owner relationship management. I also oversee all the in-villa expenses, as well as guest relations. I’ve got to keep my eye on the reservations that come in daily, liaising with our reservations team if they need any assistance in closing the sales.

Besides all this, there is a lot of work involved on the maintenance side, ensuring that the villas remain in good condition. I regularly inspect each villa, deciding what needs to be repaired and what must be replaced. Scheduling repairs for popular villas which are always booked out,

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Recognised and Awarded, Elite Havens Proves to Be the Best

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The pursuit of excellence in every aspect of our business, is a value embedded deep within the DNA of Elite Havens. Thus, it makes us proud to be bestowed with the renowned Certificate of Excellence 2018 from TripAdvisor.com – not for one, or two, but 19 villas across Asia. The awards, which were distributed earlier this year, recognise businesses across the world that consistently deliver an outstanding customer experience. The achievement is earned over time, where guests judge and review their stay at an elite haven. The villa must maintain an overall TripAdvisor rating of at least four out of five, have a minimum number of reviews and have been listed on TripAdvisor for at least twelve months. Says a representative of TripAdvisor.com, “We love working with such committed partners. Elite Heavens deservedly won our Certificate of Excellence after performing outstandingly throughout 2018.”

Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) have been supporters of speciality lodging for the past few decades. Still, says Elite Havens’ Managing Director and former Chief Technology Officer, Riyaz Moorani, “We don’t get a ton of business from them because our product isn’t the average holiday stay. We work in a niche market, offering luxury villas to the discerning traveller. Most people use OTAs to look for good deals on hotels and so our product doesn’t quite fit in with what they’re selling. But more and more, we are finding that people seem to be willing to make a commitment to book a big villa through OTAs. The market is gradually changing.”

This observation finds credence in recognition from Booking.com, who recently honoured Elite Havens with The Guest Review Award. These awards are given to Booking.com partners who have consistently received a review score between eight and ten from guests, with at least five reviews, for a period of two years. It recognizes key partners like Elite Havens, for their commitment to exceptional hospitality and service.

Moorani adds, “Each award that we receive is a great reinforcement of the fact that we are doing something right. We pride ourselves on delivering quality service. So, if we get a reward for fantastic reviews, it is noteworthy, especially when you consider how many properties are offered on those sites. To be in the top 9-10% of their properties in terms of performance shows that we are delivering on our promise to offer an exceptional luxury experience,

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Breaking the Circle in Yaowawit, Phuket

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Situated in the verdant jungles of Thailand’s Phang Nga province, two hours north of Phuket, Yaowawit School is home to as many as 150 underprivileged children from the surrounding areas. Either orphans or children whose families cannot take care of their upbringing, the children of Yaowawit live at the school until they turn 18. Different from other establishments, the school focuses on holistic education and experiential learning to help break the cycle of poverty. It proudly claims that quite a number of its graduates have gone on to university and the older ones have even begun successful careers.

Founded in the wake of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, Yaowawit is an impressive operation. Dedicated mentors work tirelessly to care for the children and teach them important life skills. While the school generates its own income from several small enterprises and is working towards being self-sustaining through the use of permaculture, it is grateful to receive help from individuals, small groups and corporations that share the school’s vision.

On 15 May 2019, the Elite Havens Phuket team decided to head to Phang Nga for a day of fun with the children of Yaowawit. On the way, Elite Havens Thailand Country Head, Femke Beekers, shared, “As a responsible company, we must also think about the community. So, along with the villa owners, we find out the needs of the community and help out as much as we can. In the past, we have supported the children of local prisoners in Baan Lung Pitak prison and the abused mothers in Good Shepherd by donating food and gifts on Children’s Day and Christmas. And we are always looking for locally-sourced products we can use in our villas. One such product we use is a beautifully scented soap made by abused mothers. We give this soap as gifts to our guests on their birthdays or in special gift baskets and we include a note about the women who make the soap and what they’re doing to make their lives better. We heard Yaowawit has a really good organic farm and that they also make products like detergent, so in addition to giving gifts today, we’d like to look into buying their produce or products for our villas. That way, our assistance is more long term.”

When the Elite Havens team arrived,

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Treat Professional Burnout and Recharge at Selofit

in Destinations/News/Recreation/Wellness by

Life is an endless loop of chasing the clock. Work, traffic, chores, to-do lists – one by one the stresses pile up and inevitably affect your mental framework and productivity levels. The only way to break the loop is to step out from the circle.

Reboot yourself at Selofit, a Revitalisation Camp held at Selong Selo Resort & Residences, Lombok. The camp is designed for working professionals who need to recharge themselves and return with a renewed zest. Get back to the working world with a positive energy, and the ability to set new goals and achieve them with confidence.

Unlike a bootcamp or a yoga retreat, Selofit aims to instil a deep sense of well-being. The program has been built by Will Harvey, an experienced mind-body coach who likes to incorporate lifestyle changes and a change of mindset into your healthy living routine, to help you make a sustainable difference in your life. Expect an introduction to balanced nutrition, along with being taught empowering skills, all this supplemented with high intensity workouts.

“I played Australian football when I was younger,” shares Harvey. “That was my sport, I even represented Australia at the junior level. I’m an outdoorsy person and always wanted to help people get healthy and fit. As I evolved in the personal training business, I realised that fitness training alone wasn’t enough. You need a holistic approach. Your emotions affect your body, and thus your productivity. You can not just do one thing and ignore the other aspects, if you wish to optimise your health.”

Not your regular retreat, there’s plenty of fun and play at Selofit too. The package includes accommodation in a luxurious Selong Selo villa, which comes with your own private pool. Connect with nature as you gaze at the endless vistas, listening to the sound of crickets, a gentle tropical breeze blowing by. With a sense of being cut-off from the world, there couldn’t be a more befitting venue for this course.

Attendees of previously held Selofit Camps can’t stop talking about it. Nigel Hobler shares his experience, “The training and diet programme at Selofit were so well balanced. They were artfully combined with other activities, such as spearfishing and surfing. I can’t wait to be back for the next one!”

It’s not hard to understand why Selofit has such a lasting impact on attendees.

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