People

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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A Chat with Niseko Gourmet’s Manager, Annie Craig

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It was her honeymoon when Annie Craig first visited Niseko. They say cupid only strikes once, but for Annie, it was love at first sight all over again. Thus when her husband, Andrew Craig decided to move to Japan as Country Manager for Elite Havens, Annie jumped at the opportunity to helm Niseko Gourmet.

Her love for food shines through when you talk to her, as does her passion for preserving the region’s culinary heritage. As Manager of Niseko Gourmet, she discusses and finalises sumptuous menus with the chefs and manages the day to day operations. We caught up with Annie for a little tête-à-tête.

Elite Havens: How did you get to Niseko?

Annie Craig: When my husband Andrew and I came to Niseko for our honeymoon, we felt a deep connection and did not want to leave. At that time, Andrew was running the Thailand operations for the company. In 2018, Elite Havens acquired Niseko Boutiques and Niseko Gourmet, and Andrew was offered the position of Country Manager in Japan. Needless to say, we did not think twice.

EH: What is Niseko Gourmet?

AC: Niseko Gourmet is a boutique catering company, offering private dining and food delivery services to guests looking for a luxury in-chalet dining experience. We can cater for groups, parties and events.

EH: How long has Niseko Gourmet been around?

AC: Niseko Gourmet was started in 2010 by Tess Stomski, so it has been around for a decade now.

EH: What does Niseko Gourmet do exactly?

AC: The core of our business is arranging for Private Dining Experiences. We have five Japanese chefs, one western chef and one specialty Thai chef.

Guests who come to Japan seek varied experiences. Food is a large part of that journey and we offer them indulgent dining options within the comfort of their own chalet. Imagine a scenario where a master chef comes with all necessary equipment and ingredients, lovingly preparing food to suit your preferences, in your own kitchen. This is the epitome of gastronomic luxury.

EH: How are the chefs selected?

AC: We are very picky when it comes to our chefs and only work with the very best. Our chefs have been part of the local Hokkaido food scene for decades.

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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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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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