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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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Through the Keyhole: Villa Amanzi Kamala

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With cutting-edge design and magnificent ocean views, Villa Amanzi Kamala is an inspiring hideaway near Kamala Beach in Phuket. The modern three-storey villa is a visual masterpiece that complements its beautiful tropical surroundings. It was built around a large boulder to accommodate nature and its magnificence; the boulder acts as a gigantic wall beside the staircase down to the family room, which is replete with an Apple TV, a pool table, a foosball table and a jacuzzi to entertain guests of all ages. The 15-metre pool on the main floor extends towards the sea in a dazzling manner, and is the focal point of the villa at sunset. Each of the villa’s six bedrooms, set on the floors above and below the living level, are stylish retreats, with fabulous floor-to-ceiling windows and breathtaking views. The modern kitchen has indoor and outdoor dining areas, and celebrates easy holiday living.

Hidden away in the Cape Amarin Estate, Villa Amanzi Kamala offers complete privacy and a convenient base for exploring the island, with Kamala and Patong Beach less than 15 minutes away by car. But because of its terrific sunset views and seductive allure, you might just be tempted to stay put in the villa.

We chatted with the amiable Villa Manager who helps deliver the Amanzi experience, to get a glimpse into what goes behind those amazing walls.

Elite Havens:  Please tell us a bit about yourself.

Boom Jaikamham: My name is Apirom Jaikamtham, and my nickname is Boom. I’m 34 years old, having been a Villa Manager for 9 months.

EH: And what did you do before you joined Elite Havens?

BJ: I have always been in the hospitality industry. I worked with different hotels and resorts as a butler, here in Phuket, before I joined EH. Actually, when I saw the job opening for Villa Manger at Villa Amanzi Kamala, it was a part-time position. But during the interview, they asked if I was willing to work as a full-time Villa Manager, and I said why not?

EH: Is the job of a butler the same as the job of a Villa Manager?

BJ: It depends on the company. Sometimes, the job is very similar, sometimes it is a little different.

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Elite Talk with Country Manager Femke Beekers

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Elite Havens’ Country Manager for Thailand, Femke Beekers fell in love with the country while on vacation. So much so, that in 2000 she decided to move halfway across the world and build a life there. Fast forward to today, she has now been a resident for 19 years, the first 10 of which were spent in Koh Samui, working in the hospitality industry. New job opportunities brought her to Phuket, and for the past three years, Femke has been managing the Thailand operations of Elite Havens as Country Manager. In her free time, Femke likes to practise yoga, hang out at the beach with her family and friends, and experience all the fabulous things Phuket has to offer. We asked her about some of her favourite spots on the island she now calls home, Phuket.

Elite Havens: Please tell us a bit about yourself and what you do for Elite Havens.

FB: Ever since I finished school, I have been working in the travel and hospitality industry. Come to think of it, that amounts to more than 25 years. I worked with travel agencies in Europe and later, moved to Thailand to manage several luxury resorts in Samui and Phuket.

I am currently the Country Head of Thailand for Elite Havens, a position I have held for the past three years, developing our destinations and business in the region, with my colleagues Andy and Milos.

EH: How difficult was the transition from hotels to luxury villas? Was it very different from your previous role?

FB: The role itself is quite similar, overseeing the entire operation and the different teams, ensuring the processes run smoothly, which is what I do countrywide for Elite Havens now. However, when you are running a hotel, the rooms and facilities follow a common style, and are all contained within one location. With villas, each property and location is unique and caters to a different audience. Moreover, personalised service provided by Elite Concierge to the guests makes every single stay a unique experience.

EH: What do your daily duties as Thailand Country Head include? Do you deal a lot with the owners? With clients?

FB: Most of the day goes into day-to-day operations.

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