Samui Wining & Dining
Dream Team

Things run super-smoothly at Hansar Samui because the whole resort is properly managed.


84Things change. Time moves on and new ideas and expectations come into play. There’s no sudden upheaval; it’s more like a gradual shift of attitudes that slowly changes the way we do things or think about them. There’s no comparison, for instance, between your granddad’s school and a modern classroom today. And, in the same way that teachers back then had a clearly-defined role, so do the modern hotel managers of today. But the ‘roles’ have evolved and changed. And whereas at one time head teachers and hotel managers alike used to sit in lofty splendour, remote and godlike in an office somewhere, not so today.


Take Hansar Samui, for example. It’s one of the island’s more recent additions, formally opened last year and located in the enviable environs of the popular Fisherman’s Village in Bo Phut. There are 74 deluxe rooms, a spa and fitness centre, a banqueting and conference facility and two first-class restaurants. But these are the aspects that you can see. In addition to all this, there are also the unseen teams of engineers and housekeepers beavering away behind the scenes.


In charge of all this is the resort’s youthful and energetic General Manager, Indra Budiman. It’s his job to co-ordinate it all and make sure everything runs precisely as planned, and to quickly adjust towards remedial action if it doesn’t. It’s a big responsibility. But then he’s more than able to handle it and has had plenty of experience, having already proved himself working with household names such as ‘Sheraton’, ‘Le Meridien’ and ‘Four Seasons’. And his approach is firmly in line with the thinking of today’s modern managers.


“At one time, institutions such as Hansar contained a ‘pyramid’ of staff,” he explained, “with the overall manager sitting at the top and delegating his instructions downwards. This made him remote and inaccessible and, more often than not, feared. He was a figurehead that staff respected but tried to avoid. Things just can’t work like that today. I eat in the staff canteen and chat with the staff. I roll up my sleeves and help out in the kitchen or the spa. If I haven’t got the experience and management skills to earn respect then I shouldn’t be doing this job. Each of the departments here works together as a team with each person being able to have a voice. And I myself am a part of the entire team here: The staff and I work together: they don’t work for me.”


If anyone needed proof of this then the daily staff meetings would be most revealing. Each morning, every big resort has a briefing with the departmental heads. This usually lasts between an hour and 90 minutes. But at Hansar it’s usually over in less than half an hour. Why? Because Indra makes it his business to spend time in each of the different departments during the day and gets running updates on the spot!


There are two excellent restaurants here, ‘H-Bistro’ down at beach-level and the very laid-back ‘Chill Lounge’ with its comfy day-beds and sweeping seascape. The Executive Chef is Stephen Jean Dion, and he too has a pedigree that commands respect, having not only managed top-notch eateries such as the five-star ‘Lebua at State Tower’ in Bangkok but also having catered for royalty, previously being the personal chef for His Majesty the King of Jordan. There are 11 staff working in the kitchen to prepare the Mediterranean-based cuisine on offer and they too work as a team. “Although I tend to lead from the front,” Stephen told me, “I’m always open to suggestions. We’ve created a good menu together. It’s been expanded to include room service and also catering for conferences and weddings. But at the end of the day it’s all about whether our guests are happy. And, judging by their reactions on the very influential ‘Trip Advisor’, they are!


One aspect of more up-market resorts is the calibre of their spa. Most places offer something of an amenity service but at Hansar there’s far more than merely Thai massage on offer. Their elegant and tranquil LUXSA Spa works around a holistic personal assessment to begin with. Guests sit and consult with the Spa Manager, Khun Kantima Chompoolad (nicknamed Khun Jeurn), who compiles a personal profile. Subsequent therapies or treatments are tailored to this, with the appropriate aromatic oils used and key energy centres stimulated. The ‘Ayurvedic Head Massage’ and the ‘Herbal Healing Treatment’ are particularly relevant to this approach but Khun Jeurn and her team have created a much broader ‘menu’ with a full range of pampering and rejuvenating options. And, although highly experienced, Khun Jeurn is the first to declare that she doesn’t regard herself as ‘the boss’. “We all share everything,” she explained, “and everyone’s ideas and opinions are considered. Our ‘Romantic Healing Package for Two’ was the idea of one of my staff and it’s proved to be one of the most popular options. Khun Indra is like a friend to me and every day there are new suggestions and ideas to consider. We’re always seeking ways to improve the range and quality of what we offer.”


I suppose you could call this way of working ‘lateral management’ rather than the bombastically-traditional vertical form of the ‘pyramid’ style. Or, as Indra put it, “It’s all based on a process of interaction and not on imposing ideas on other people. Respect has to be earned; it can’t be commanded. And a strong and motivated team who are all working together with the same aims just can’t be beaten.”


Which goes a long way to explaining why Hansar Samui has quickly become established as a successful player on the island scene. It’s a great resort offering excellent facilities including super restaurants and a top-notch spa. The people who manage all this are professionals, yet each is able (and encouraged) to bring their own particular skills to the larger table of overall resort policy. It’s an admirable system and one which is working like a dream, at Hansar Samui.


Rob De Wet


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