A private luxury villa might not be the most well-known concept when compared to other kinds of traditional accommodation like hotel and resort. Not to mention the role of professional service providers at the private villa that will leave most of you unsure to begin with. One of the most important roles among villa staff is a villa manager that is responsible for many aspects of the operation, and to make sure that guests’ experience will be superb and uninterrupted.
To have a better insight on this role, The Luxury Signature (TLS) team took the opportunity to interview one of the most outstanding and experienced villa managers – Jack, from the Villa Akatsuki in Koh Samui.
TLS Team: Hello Jack, it is our pleasure to have you here with us today. Can you please introduce yourself and how long have you been working in this industry?
Jack: It is my pleasure to have your team here at our villa as well. I have been in the hospitality business for 15 years. I graduated with hotel management degree and while I was studying I always work alongside. I still remember that one of my very first place that I had an internship was at Banyan Tree Bangkok in food and beverage department and Hyatt Erawan as well. After graduation, I joined Chivasom Hotel in Hua Hin in a guest relation department.
TLS Team: So when did you start taking a role as a manager?
Jack: It was a coincidence. After sometime, I started to want something new and decided to move to Koh Samui, just to find an escape. However, my friend took a job as a hotel manager in one of a boutique luxury hotels in Koh Samui, and he needed my help, so I helped him out. When I realized, I was already a hotel manager at the hotel. After a while, I decided to join one of the totally new accommodation concepts, which is a private villa rental company based in Koh Samui. I worked there for many years, helped them designed standards and procedures along with the work system. After a while, I left, and I started working at Villa Akatsuki.
TLS Team: Can you walk us through a role of Villa Manager?
Jack: A villa manager has three primary roles. First, manage all staff in the team, from a chef to a gardener. The second role is to act and represent as the villa owner. And the last one is to take care of clients.
TLS Team: Act like a villa owner? Can you elaborate on that point?
Jack: A villa manager has to take care of everything; this also includes overseeing villa condition and decide whether it is time to do a touchup or the whole refurbishment. In short, it is like you are the owner of the house that when you see something broken or wear out, you need to step up and fix it. However, being a Villa Manager, you have to consult and convince the villa owner to agree with you that it is necessary and cost-effective to invest in it.
TLS Team: Of all the roles you mentioned, which one is the most challenging for you?
Jack: I would say the managing part. People have a different background so it ‘s hard to know which approach should you use with this particular person. Also to keep up with the standard is very challenging because it is not all about the property maintenance but it is also about managing our staff. We need to reach and maintain the luxury property accommodation standard, which is also a crucial requirement for Villa Akatsuki to be a member of The Luxury Signature, as you know (laughs).
TLS Team: So what is your management style?
Jack: We have three pillars of our excellence; they are the attitude training, customer excellence training and team working. We really emphasize on the human touch. I mean my team has to be able to know what our customers want before they even realize it. My number 1 policy is, never say no to the guest.
TLS Team: That’s wonderful. You must have some trick. Can you share with us?
Jack: For me the first meal, once guests arrive at the villa, is the most important thing and the show time for our staff. I always work closely with villa agent or concierge to obtain all the guests’ necessary information such as the arrival time, what kind of food they prefer and any special requirement prior to their arrival. Then once they arrived and tired from a long journey, they will be greeted by our hospitable staff and a full option of exclusive cuisine and refreshing drinks that they like.
TLS Team: That sounds like a hard work.
Jack: It is not only that. We use only the finest ingredients on the island. I am the one who hand-picked one by one and dish by dish.
TLS Team: You are very thorough about everything. Is there any other wow thing that you can do for your guests?
Jack: Whatever guests request, we strive to provide them all. And even it is impossible, we will help them figure out what should be the other close option that they can get.
TLS Team: What are the most popular requests you usually get from guests?
Jack: I get all kinds of requests. One of the most frequent requests is a private boat for a day trip to nearby islands from Koh Samui and a surprise birthday party. A private fitness trainer is also very popular among guests at Akatsuki too.
TLS Team: Is there any unusual request?
Jack: Oh yes. One time, the guest asked me to arrange an elephant for their kids to play with on the beach. I was pretty surprised, but as I told you, I never say no to my guests, so we got them an elephant.
TLS Team: Sounds like you have a fun job. Is there any working hours for staff at the villa?
Jack: Yes, we do. It is pretty flexible for guests. It can start as early as 07.00 hr and finish at 10.00 hr. For me, I stay at the villa to facilitate guests and make sure that everything is working just fine.
TLS Team: What is the time of check-in and check-out at the villa?
Jack: It is a normal standard just like in hotel and resort, at 14.00 hr for check-in and 12.00 hr for check-out. However, if guests happen to arrive before the check-in time, we are not going to let them be stranded out there. As long as the villa is available and ready, they are always welcomed at our property.
TLS Team: What is the key to an excellent service?
Jack: Passion is the key to the best service for every guest. I believe that my clients know when they see the staff who serve them from their heart. It makes them happy and want to return to our villa again and again. It is not only the quality of the villa or facility alone; it is also the quality of service that will win guests’ heart and promises a customer’s return.
Villa Akatsuki is one of The Luxury Signature’s finest collection of luxury villas in Koh Samui, and has been a member since early 2014. To see more of The Luxury Signature’s premium villas in the island, click here.