Swiss-born Daniel Meury has been GM of Kamala’s Andara Resort & Villas for five years now. Phuketindex.com got the chance to learn more about him, his personal life and his working aspects.
Daniel, who has called Asia his second home for over 25 years, told us why he is here.
“I grew up in Switzerland on a farm and later went to Swiss hotel management school where I studied for four years. I then worked in some hotels in Switzerland before I decided to go out and see something of the world. I started in Malaysia and from then on I went to Indonesia, Burma, and China and now I’m here in Thailand.”
Please tell us about your career path
In Switzerland the hotel industry is a very important sector and we have a lot of beautiful hotels in beautiful locations, so as a young boy growing up I always dreamed of visiting these hotels or of course working in them.
I was very happy that my grandmother had a small restaurant so I often went there on the weekends to help out with the guests. So it was a good hands-on experience while growing up. For me, it was the natural path to go into hotel management.
I was a hotel trainee first. The training required me to work in the kitchen, in services, at reception and then I went to hotel management school. I learned about all the different departments from the starting point and I think it’s very important that we also know about the problems that happen down on the floor before we go into management.
How come you joined Andara?
I saw Andara being built. I knew Alan Zeman who started Andara development from the Chedi Phuket when I was GM there. When he asked me to join him here, I was very happy to come and lead the team.
How about your responsibilities here?
My responsibility here is leading the team in all aspects. Andara has two different sides. One side is the resort where we have 37 beautiful suites which range from one to four bedrooms and then we have the villas. In our first phase we had 26 villas and we are just completing our second state with the Andara Signature where we’ve built another eight villas. So we look after all aspects of the villa management, be it from the building, to the maintenance and of course afterwards also selling them and looking after the owners’ interests. At the same time I have to look after the hotel operation, sales and marketing, our guests, and most importantly the staff as well.
What are the obstacles to your job and how do you overcome them?
I think in every job or every day, there are little obstacles and sometimes of course there are bigger ones. I think first we have to find the reason how these obstacles came about and find out through our team and through our guests how we can overcome them and how we can make it better in the future.
Could you please tell us a bit about Andara?
Andara is very fortunate in having a beautiful position overlooking Kamala Bay. All of our suites and villas offer views over the Andaman Sea and we of course offer a lot of space. On top of space, comes the design that blends in with the accent of Thailand. It’s something that was designed nine or ten years ago but even now it still looks relatively new. Andara will still look very beautiful in 20 or 30 years’ time. The essence of Andara is the hospitality we offer here; we always try to make our service different. We want to recognize each individual guest as who he or she is and treat them in such a way that everybody who leaves us, leaves with a wonderful memory and a great experience.
How does your hotel different from those hotels in Kamala Beach area?
Kamala Beach has seen big changes in last five or ten years. There were hardly any hotels here over ten years ago but now we have more and more hotels on the hillside along ‘Millionaire’s Mile’. There are many good hotels in Kamala but I think we offer a bit more space to the guests. Our rooms are more luxuriously fitted out and because of the higher number of staff we have we can also provide a much more personalized service than many other hotels.
Please tell us about the goals you set for Andara
We are here every day to try harder to make the guests’ experience better and at the same time to attract more new and returning guests because I think that is one of the biggest challenges in today’s sales and marketing. Because not only Phuket has many nice hotels, there are beautiful hotels in many other areas of Thailand coming up too. So we have to make sure that we stay ahead and I think this is the hardest challenge. We try to make sure the guests are as happy as possible so that they want to come back. And if they can’t, they’ll tell their friends and their family to come visit us. The result of that will of course help us greatly in sales and marketing effort and providing a better return for our owners and of course a better future for all of our team members.
How about your lifestyle?
I think I do live a very much a hotel lifestyle. I’ve worked in the business for over 30 years and I really enjoy it. When I have days off, I love to go to experience a new hotel, see different places, and make a lot of friends along the way. Working in Asia for over 25 years, I have friends everywhere and know people in other places and that enriches my experience in Asia, my second home.
I also love to go back to Switzerland every year and in Europe you always get to see new things and that’s the wonderful thing about the travelling experience. It enriches you while you grow. I think we never totally grow up even though you reach a certain age. You are always out there to learn and to open up to new things. That’s what I love about my job and meeting a lot of guests along the way.