The Story of Raffles People
Thursday, June 05, 2014
June 2014 - At each of Raffles’ eleven hotels and resorts, we know that true luxury is not just about what people get from our hotels, it’s about how they feel - both when they are staying with us and after they have checked out. Each member of staff is the face of this emotional luxury, as we call it. They work consistently and unfailingly, to make every guest feel valued, cared for and appreciated. We celebrate individuality – and the following are just some of the individuals who deliver what our guests expect from us…
Hem Sopheap, Pool attendant, Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor, Siem Reap
Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor has one up on the other hotels in Siem Reap, and the rest of Cambodia: it is home to the largest swimming pool in the country. Inspired both in design and size by the ancient bathing pools of the Khmer Kings in Angkor Wat, and set at the heart of the hotel’s private tropical gardens the pool at Raffles is one of the finest spots in Cambodia. And key to preserving the colonial charm and relaxed atmosphere of the pool is Hem Sopheap, a Pool Attendant of the very finest kind. Gentle and discreet, yet totally attentive, Hem anticipates the requests of his guests, however large or small. “I treat my guests like family – we aim to make them feel as though Raffles is a home away from home, at the same time as sharing the Khmer culture,” he says. Working with Raffles is a rewarding experience for Hem; “Getting to meet so many different people every day has given me a much more international perspective on life, which inspires me to continue to learn the hospitality industry, and see more of the world for myself.” Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor ticks all the Cambodian boxes… atmosphere, colonial charm, delicious food… and the finest service – especially around the pool. www.raffles.com/siem-reap
Chef Roland Eitzinger, Head Pastry Chef, Raffles Dubai
Roland Eitzinger is a complete pastry expert. Head Pastry Chef at Raffles Dubai – and with more than fifteen years’ experience in the pastry kitchen – Roland is an endlessly creative character, charged with inspiring his talented team to be constantly on the look-out for new trends, the latest flavour combinations and most modern techniques to keep wowing the guests of the hotel. This challenge is nowhere more apparent than in the ‘The Collection – Afternoon Tea by Raffles’ – Dubai’s first fashion afternoon tea. Roland is tasked with creating a new afternoon tea menu for each catwalk season, translating the latest designer collections straight from the shows into pastry, and disguising decadent cakes as accessories. Roland says, “Working with Raffles feels like working for the best. After fifteen years in pastry kitchens all around the world, Raffles Dubai feels like home. I push my team every day to come up with new concoctions in pastry… it’s fast paced and exciting. At the moment we are working on creating signature dishes for new menus and the next "collection" using rare, single origin organic chocolate from South America – it’s that constant search for originality which really makes me tick.” www.raffles.com/dubai
Julie Eugène, Art Concierge at Le Royal Monceau, Raffles Paris
Julie Eugène holds a unique role in Paris; she is Art Concierge at Le Royal Monceau, Raffles Paris – the only job of its kind in the city. Whether it’s casting a critical eye on the latest Parisian exhibitions, creating bespoke itineraries for cruising around the capital on the street art trail, or even lending a serious hand in negotiating prices for artistic purchases, Julie has the Paris art scene at her fingertips. A graduate in History of Art from the University of Paris, and with stints as artistic director at an advertising agency and contemporary galleries including Parisian 55 and the Patricia Dorfmann Gallery behind her, Julie is an art obsessive through and through. Truly passionate about her profession, Julie’s vivacious manner enlivens the artistic spirit of the hotel. “I am extremely lucky to get to share my passion for art with our guests – all day, every day,” she says.
“The biggest luxury I can share with guests is time – in every sense. From spending plenty of time with a guest asking my advice to make sure I create the best tailor-made programme I can, and saving guests valuable time during their visit, to taking the time to accompany guests to exhibitions around the city, and sharing the moment with them. It’s a really special thing – that’s what inspires me.”
Julie’s Art Concierge service is complimentary for guests of Le Royal Monceau, Raffles Paris. www.raffles.com/paris
Ziad Daoud, Culinary Director, Raffles Makkah Palace
As Culinary Director of Raffles Makkah Palace, Ziad Daoud creates cuisine to match the wonder of the hotel guests’ spiritual experience as they visit the most holy place on earth. Leading a hand-picked team of 75 chefs from 16 different countries, Ziad’s culinary vision works as an international journey through more than nine countries. “The flavours of the Middle East work as the perfect platform for any serious chef,” he says. “It’s a constant source of inspiration – almost never ending - and the location of Raffles only extends this. Overlooking the Grand Mosque and the Ka’aba square, at the confluence of so much history, gives a real energy to me and my team.” But it’s not just the Middle East from which Ziad draws his inspiration. His next trip will take him to France on a quest in search for some of the finest chocolate in the world to bring back to Makkah. www.raffles.com/makkah
Tarek Mourad, General Manager, Raffles Istanbul
Tarek is one of the newest members of the Raffles family, leading a ‘dream team’ to open the doors of Raffles Istanbul to its first guests in September 2014. Raffles Istanbul will be the perfect embodiment of the ‘new’ face of Istanbul: cutting-edge, eclectic and energetic. The hotel is at the heart of the Zorlu Center, a new hub for fashion, food and the arts on the European shore in Beşiktaş - overlooking the Bosphorus and the Princess Islands. This is a next-generation bazaar, where fashion, performance and art converge at the centre of Turkey’s most compelling city – a global hotspot for 2014.
Tarek, who has opened six incredibly successful properties for Four Seasons Hotels, says “Passion is the essence of success and, when combined with a smile, a positive attitude, plenty of common sense and consistency, that is when we get what we at Raffles call ‘emotional luxury’. I’m very lucky to be working with a team of people who are full of passion – even before we’ve opened – and who are going to set Raffles Istanbul apart”. Many members of Tarek’s closest family were hoteliers, so he is well versed in the industry. The chance to join the Raffles family in his favourite city – at such a pivotal time for Istanbul – is a dream come true.
Raffles Istanbul will open to guests on 1 September 2014. www.raffles.com/istanbul
Cindy Pimentel, Raffles Butler, Raffles Makati
Following the example of the legendary butlers at Raffles Hotel, Singapore, Cindy Pimentel is a much-loved touch-point for guests at Raffles Makati. Cindy is the only female butler at the hotel, and thrives on the challenge of anticipating the needs of her guests and being on-hand to offer advice – and share her local knowledge – wherever she can. Having grown up in Manila, Cindy knows the city inside out, allowing her to share insider tips with her guests. “No two guests are the same – it’s a blessing and a challenge at the same time. I never know what’s around the corner,” says Cindy. “There’s nothing more satisfying than a beaming smile to make my day, and spur me on. Manila is a fascinating city, and I love being able to watch guests discover that for themselves.” Cindy’s best recommendation for a taste of local flavour is to order Taal Lake Tempura in the Long Bar – the authentic Filipino interpretation of fish and chips – and to embrace all things shoes – nearby Marikina is the shoe capital of the Philippines, with a museum dedicated to the finest feet, and an annual festival for footwear each September. www.raffles.com/makati
Stephane Soret, Wine Director, Raffles Singapore
It’s no secret that Singaporeans take their wine seriously. As Wine Director for Raffles Singapore, Stephane Soret oversees an impressive cellar of more than a thousand labels – one the most impressive in the city. Stephane’s wine career has taken him all over the world – from New York to San Francisco, London to Paris, Dubai to Delhi – but it has been a long-term ambition to be a part of the Raffles family. He now thrives on leading a wine programme unique in Asia, taking responsibility for wine lists in nine restaurants, and sourcing and introducing interesting new wines to Singapore. “I’m able to share some of the finest wines in the world with the guests at Raffles,” he says. “It’s a real challenge to carry on finding new and original labels which match up to the wow-factor of stepping into the haven of the Raffles Singapore lobby. The hotel sets the scene, and we start the story – and hopefully play a part in making it one to remember.” Stephane loves to share his passion for wine with his guests, and share the 127 year history of the hotel through wine.
Charlie Zhang, Chief Concierge, Raffles Hainan
Charlie Zhang is extremely popular with guests at Raffles Hainan, regularly receiving high praise for going the extra mile for guests during their stay. From arranging water-sports at the drop of a hat to recommending the best activities at the hotel each day, Charlie prides himself on being invaluable for guests at Raffles Hainan. Pleasant, efficient and sincere, Charlie ensures that he is a key member of the Raffles family in Hainan, inspiring the concierge team to share the secrets of the island – China’s answer to the French Riviera. Charlie’s top tip is to unwind into the Hainan way of life with a Hainan Sling in the Long Bar, a tribute not only to the original bar at Raffles in Singapore, but also to Ngam Tong Boon, the Hainanese bartender who created the Singapore Sling. www.raffles.com/hainan
John Spooner, Raffles Ambassador, Raffles Beijing
As Raffles Beijing's official ambassador, John Spooner is well-versed in welcoming residents to Beijing's only luxury heritage hotel and sharing the city’s best-kept secrets. John has spent more than forty years in the hotel industry; he’s a true encyclopaedia on both the city, and the needs of his guests.
‘Every day I look to share the essence of our hotel – and this incredible city – with our guests. It’s not necessarily about what guests get, it’s about how they feel… whether that’s the feeling of being completely at home in a foreign city, or of being truly pampered during their stay. That’s what I’m aiming for,’ he says, defiantly. This stretches to sharing truly unique snapshots of Beijing, which many visitors don’t get to see. Twice a week John and his team invite guests of Raffles Beijing to join him at the break of dawn to witness the traditional and atmospheric Flag Raising Ceremony at Tian An Men Square, the largest city square in the world. While most tourists are still sleeping, John leads guests through the city’s streets as he shares his insights into the people, scenes and stories of Beijing. Upon arrival at Tian An Men Square, guests watch the raising of the national flag accompanied by a marching military band. And of course, John will share his local tips on how to see the very best of the city – from bargain shopping spots to celebrated authentic Hutong restaurants… this is the way to see Beijing. www.raffles.com/beijing
Chef I Wayan Mawa, Executive Chef, Raffles Hotel Le Royal Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh is a melting pot of Cambodian and international cuisine. I Wayan Mawa, Executive Chef, Raffles Hotel Le Royal faces the challenge of ensuring that both Restaurant Le Royal and Café Monivong are top of the list for visitors to the city. An elegant French salon style restaurant – all crystal chandeliers and picture windows, overlooking the gardens – Restaurant Le Royal has exclusive permission to use original recipes from the Royal Palace of Cambodia, granted to the hotel by King Father Norodom himself. Meanwhile, Café Monivong is known for its a la carte menu of Western and Pan-Asian dishes. An exceptionally experienced chef with 30 years’ international culinary experience, Chef Mawa ensures that the Khmer food stays light and fragrant, full of the flavours of Cambodia, and that the international cuisine is as good as in its native country. “I love hearing what our guests say about our food – whether it’s from diners directly, or through comments picked up by the rest of the team,” he says. “It makes our hard work come together, and strengthens the team in the kitchen too – we really use that as energy for perfecting each dish, and maintaining our high standards of service.” Chef Mawa’s top tip is to choose the Executive Chef’s degustation menu at Restaurant Le Royal, to try a complete myriad of traditional dishes in one meal. www.raffles.com/phnom-penh
Piason Kane, Junior Assistant Manager - Pool Restaurant Bar & Pti Zil Beach Bar, Raffles Praslin Seychelles
Piason Kane probably has one of the most enviable jobs in the world: he gets to spend his days shaking cocktails in the Seychelles. Originally from Zimbabwe, and having lived in buzzing cities from Cape Town to Dubai, the calm of Raffles Praslin and the Indian Ocean is quite a change. But it is this stunning setting – all granite rock forms, sandy beaches and big blue sea – which inspires Piason every day. “No stay at Raffles Praslin would be complete without a cocktail or two - it’s a real privilege to literally create memories for our guests,” he says. This is more apparent than ever this spring, as Raffles Praslin opens its Pti Zil Beach Bar – all tables made from local Takamaka wood and low-slung seats overlooking the Indian Ocean, and an irresistible collection of mojitos made with local rum. Piason’s latest cocktail creation is the Strawberry Balsamic Mojito, matching rum with sweet strawberries, balanced by dash of balsamic – ideal for sundowners by the sea. “Guests are welcomed at Raffles as our friends, and many leave as part of our family, and I feel a real sense of pride in helping to make that happen. I love the challenge of creating tailor-made cocktails to match a particular dish – and seeing the smiles from that first sip...”
The Pti Zil Beach Bar is open to all visitors to Praslin – as well as hotel guests – daily. www.raffles.com/praslin
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