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Through the Keyhole: Villa Cielo

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Villa Cielo is an extraordinary family holiday home within an exclusive estate right on Phuket’s lovely Natai Beach. This home away from home is built for families with young children, with a full-sized kids’ play structure installed in the large garden at the back of the villa, as well as a basketball hoop, kids’ cars and a trampoline. Adults can have their own bit of fun by the pool table or the bar.

Looking from one end of the black-tiled 25-metre infinity pool towards the horizon, one can not help but succumb to the charms of its exotic location by the sea. A gazebo lies on one side of the pool, perfect for a nap or morning yoga. Six spacious bedrooms fill the home, offering each guest privacy, as well as a quiet nook to retreat to. Step onto the beach for a sunset stroll or watch your favourite film on the home theatre system, there’s no dearth of options here. And the one thing that ties it all up into the perfect family vacation, is the warmth of the villa staff and attention to detail that is second nature to them.

We sit down with Villa Manager Gia to get a glimpse of life at the villa.

Elite Havens: Please tell us a bit about yourself.

Villa Manager Gia: Hi, my name is Gia. I’ve been working with Elite Havens since 2017. I work as a Guest Services Supervisor. Usually, the Guest Services Supervisor supports the Villa Managers, but in my case, I also act as a Villa Manager here at Villa Cielo.

EH: So, what are your main responsibilities?

VMG: I start taking care of our guests even before they arrive. Answers to the questions on our portal filled by guests prior to their arrival help us understand their requirements better. Based on their answers, we plan on how to assist our guests. For example, we find out what time they will arrive so we can arrange an airport pick-up. If they want to do some activities, book a massage, or join an island tour, we can make the arrangements in advance. We also talk about food preferences and restrictions, recommending local Thai dishes for their dining pleasure when they stay with us.

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Through the Keyhole: Villa Samira

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It’s all about the views at stylish Villa Samira, set along Phuket’s ‘Millionaires’ Mile’. This six-bedroom holiday home boasts superb sea and sunset views from all its living spaces, including a 17-metre infinity pool and an unbelievable outdoor sea view jacuzzi. Modern interiors mix with traditional Thai design here. Whether savouring the sun at the expansive outdoor living areas, playing a game of pool in the game room or gathering for a movie in the media room, Samira’s lavish indoor and outdoor areas are a treat.

Samira, which means ‘cool breeze’ in Sanskrit, includes a custom-built spa for the perfect holiday escape. Enhancing your experience at this tropical haven is the finest staff team, including an English-speaking Villa Manager whom we interviewed.

Elite Havens: Please tell us a bit about yourself.

Villa Manager Samyot: My name is Samyot and I’m 45 years old. I have been the Villa Manager of Villa Samira for a little over one year. I have more than twenty years of experience in the hotel industry. Along with my previous job at a hotel, I also worked part-time as a Villa Manager elsewhere, before I started working at Elite Havens.

EH: What do you like about your job?

VMS: I love taking care of guests. It’s a thrill to be there when they arrive and see the villa for the first time. They are so happy to discover the beauty of this holiday home, and I try to ensure that their happiness extends throughout the visit.

EH: Great, so you enjoy looking after the guests for their entire stay. And do you have any interesting stories about some of your guests?

VMS: A group stayed with us once for two weeks. One day, they asked me to play pool with them.      They said that if I lost, they would throw me in the pool. And then, I won! But they all picked me up in good humour and threw me in the pool nevertheless. It was a wonderful day, such great memories. The guests were incredibly warm.

EH: What are some places that people can visit nearby?

VMS: Some of our guests love to go to Cafe del Mar. Patong is also popular for its beach,

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Influencer of the Day: Maudy Ayunda

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We caught up with Maudy Ayunda, Indonesian singer, songwriter, actress, and activist for education and youth-related initiatives when she stayed at an elite haven recently. Maudy is more than just a celebrity. She has played an ambassador’s role in the fight against modern slavery, by sharing the message relentlessly amongst youth, and was also invited to the Vice Presidential Palace in Jakarta as a representative in 2017. Maudy has made it her life’s purpose to ensure women and men the right to live with freedom and dignity. She was also awarded ‘Best Digital Influencer’ at the BUBU Awards, ‘Most Influential Millennial’ at Style Awards.

We sat down with this trailblazer for an informal chat.

Elite Havens: Hi Maudy, what’s keeping you busy these days?

Maudy Ayunda: I’m actually leaving this weekend for Stanford, and I am just so excited. My studies will officially kick off next week.

EH: Wow! Congratulations on Stanford. Do you have any tips to share on how to get into a top international university?

MA: I don’t know if there is one magic formula. It’s really hard for me to pinpoint what about my application got me in. I think the main thing is to speak your truth in the application, and not pretend to be someone that you are not. And make sure you give yourself enough time to work on the application because it is quite time consuming and shouldn’t be rushed through. I spent an entire month working on my CV, and another three months on my essay, followed by a whole month preparing for the exams. Another tip is to sound off your ideas with a lot of people, especially ask them whether the topic of your essay sounds interesting, let them read your essay and let them tell you if your personality is reflected in your words. That’s really important because you have to come off as your true self, to come off as somebody who’s not putting up an illusion.

EH: What can you share with your fans about your next project?

MA: My next release is in December and it’s called Habibi Ainun 3. It is so, so exciting, I just finished dubbing for it. Not to be narcissistic but the movie’s looking good so far. I can’t wait to see it for myself this December.

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Through the Keyhole: Angthong Villa

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Beautiful Angthong Villa sits away from the crowd, in a tranquil area in northwest Koh Samui. Right on the beach yet secluded and private, it offers a luxurious beach escape from humdrum daily life. At first glance you will love the grand architecture and cosy feel of this four-bedroom villa, with a large living area overlooking the enticing 19-metre pool, and mesmerising sea views beyond.

But the details are what set Angthong Villa apart from the rest. Discover indulgent touches like stunning porcelain tiles in the bathrooms, gorgeous sinks that you want to take Instagram photos of, and crockery that makes every meal stand out. The villa itself offers an amazing lawn for events, right on the beachfront. Spacious and gorgeous, with extensive possibilities for birthday parties, gatherings, and romantic weddings, it’s the perfect villa in which to hold special events.

Angthong Villa is also special for its unbeatable location. It’s right on the beach, yet not too far from Chaweng and Bophut Fisherman’s Village. It’s also near the Thai temple Wat Plai Laem and the Big Buddha.

We sat down with Angthong’s Villa Manager Melie, who told us about lasting friendships with former guests and also gave us insider tips on where to go in Koh Samui:

Elite Havens: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Melie Pundat: My name is Arirat Pundat. You can call me Melie, it’s easier to pronounce.

EH: What a lovely name! So you’ve been the Villa Manager here in Angthong for one and a half months. What did you do before you became a Villa Manager for Elite Havens?

MP: Before I became a Villa Manager, I worked as a Resort Host in Koh Samui. A Resort Host takes care of the VIP guests from the time they check in until they check out. One also makes arrangements for the activities they want to do, and other things like that. So, it’s quite similar to the job of a Villa Manager because the role is to look after the guests during their stay.

EH: What do you like most about this villa?

MP: I think this villa is unique. The owners really have a heart for details, which is obvious in how they have mixed Thai décor with other styles,

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Elite Talk with Executive Director Riyaz Moorani

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Elite Havens’ Executive Director, Riyaz Moorani, has travelled the world but one of his most intriguing journeys has been his career path. A chance encounter with a fellow expat nearly twenty years ago set him on a course for success in the luxury tourism sector. We caught up with Riyaz to find out how meeting Jon Stonham led to the foundation of Elite Havens, and how he helped grow Asia’s leading villa company.

Elite Havens: What can you tell us about your role at Elite Havens?

Riyaz Moorani: As one of the Executive Directors of the company, I do a little bit of everything. I am responsible for the technological aspect of the company, so I work with all the other departments to see how we can use technology to help them become more efficient.  I am based in the Manila office, and there are about 10 people in the IT team, 20 in Reservations, 7 in Content, 16 in Accounting and Finance and HR. We have about 60 people in Manila.

EH: Have you been doing this for the company since it began?

RM: Yes. Since our Asia Hotels days, Jon has taken care of the ‘outside’—dealing with our customers and the marketing aspect of things, and I’ve always taken care of the ‘inside’ of the business—the technology and operations side of things. This partnership and division of labour has worked well for many years.

EH: So I take it your background is in IT?

RM: I’ve always worked in IT but along the way, it became more of a mix of IT and business: looking at a business and studying how to apply technology to it, rather than just pure IT.

I was working at my first job in Canada and our company sent me to Malaysia for a one-year project. I liked it so much there that I ended up staying for five years instead of just one. I was in charge of designing and running a very large operating system for a phone company. Then a phone company in Hong Kong asked me to come and build a similar system for them. So, I moved to Hong Kong and lived there for almost 11 years and that’s where I met Jon. We became good friends and we decided to start Asia Hotels.

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