The majority of Vietnamese-owned upscale hotels are managed by the international chains who offer them great marketing potential and operational solutions. So how does this unique luxury boutique hotel on Phu Quoc Island run by a Vietnamese family manage to raise the bar of hospitality not only on a national level, but also on a global scale?
‘Designed by us, Vietnamese’
From the very inception, Salinda Resort was conceptualized to showcase the power of Vietnamese potential that is often overlooked by the attractiveness of foreign expertise in hotel management.
To make a solid foundation for this cause, the owners selected both the architecture and interior design teams from Vietnam who were able to create a resort that combines contemporary comforts with local touches yet respects the natural surroundings of Phu Quoc.
|Tropical landscapes cover over 75 percent of Salinda Resort on Phu Quoc Island.|
Le Thanh Hai from HAIA Architects & Associates was fascinated with the combination of Scandinavian functionality and Japanese rustic minimalism, also referred to as ‘Japandi’ design.
This fusion creates the perfect blend of function and form, focusing on clean lines and light colors to create a feeling of art and simplicity.
As the design philosophy focuses on the importance of nature, the architect incorporated natural materials throughout the resort, such as the most sustainable wood in the world – Accoya; tropical landscapes covering over 75 percent of the land; and thermoregulating stone walls covered with ivies that ‘cool down’ the air.
Yet to give a homey feeling to this serene concept, Aline Ho from Asiatique Design added a local touch to the interior design honoring Phu Quoc landscapes and culture with carefully chosen ceramic ornaments, local fisherman crafts, shell textures, and exotic patterns.
But one of the most outstanding design features of the resort is the elaborate decorative murals offering a space of narrative to the viewer.
From Vertical Zen Garden stretching through three stories to tropical broken ceramic wall art in Premium Deluxe Rooms to sterling-silver wallpapers by de Gournay in Pakka Indian Restaurant, one can truly listen to all the Stories on the Walls at Salinda Resort.
|Tropical broken ceramic wall art in Preium Deluxe Rooms|
Building the culture
A successful hotel is always born from the culture of its top management, and the culture of top management is always born from the owner. Salinda Resort is no exception.
Dedicated to the names of two sisters ‘Sandra & Linda,’ Salinda Resort embraced the sentiments of the sisterhood – trust, encouragement, and kindness to each other.
“And not just the kindness that is generous in material items, but a heart that wants to give the best and be the best in character for every relationship,” shares Sandra Nguyen Si, the eldest daughter and the CEO of the company.
While the owners may not directly interact with their guests, their attitude filters down through their executive management, right to their line staff.
So, when it came to building the greatest team, Salinda was looking for managers with character, not just a set of skills; role models who would take care of their employees on a deeper level; and leaders who truly loved to create soulful experiences for their guests.
What is also quite noticeable is the diversity of the team with people coming from all over the country and also from India, Thailand, the Philippines, and Italy, who worked in leading hotel brands like Six Senses, Raffles, and Como. This diverse trait stimulates tolerance, experience exchange, and even healthy competitiveness among Salinda Family members – people who are united in the passion of bringing happiness to others.
|Salinda Family members – people who are united in the passion of bringing happiness to guests.|
After years of working and living abroad, Nguyen Dang Thanh, Director of Rooms, shares, “I decided to settle on this peaceful island at a place where I can touch people’s hearts. Salinda has become my family where every day I can transfer my love of hospitality to my team and share my international experience. This is the place where smiles are the main currency which the solidarity, harmony, and empathy of our team are based on.”
With these core values in mind, the team brought Salinda to the top and won both guest reviews and industry awards such as Haute Grandeur for Asia’s Best Boutique Honeymoon Hotel, Condé Nast Traveler Asia’s Top 30 Resorts, TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Vietnam’s #2 Luxury Hotels, and many more.
Connecting with guests emotionally
|A desire to be of service to guests|
“It goes without saying that someone who wants to be a hotel owner has to have the mindset of a business person, but to be a successful one requires something extra: a desire to be of service. And this trait defined the environment in which everyone at Salinda Resort works,” says Madame Huyen, co-founder of Salinda Resort.
The emotional connection – and creating that ‘home-from-home’ feeling – is linked to the product, the service, and the people.
When done right, when genuine, authentic, and meaningful – however big or small that emotional connection might be – this is what luxury hospitality is today.
What sets a great luxury hotel apart from a standard five-star one is the attention to detail from the first moment of guest interaction until the very last one.
And being boutique allows Salinda to be extremely flexible and creative with how the hotel reinvents the wheel of hospitality: from handwritten welcome letters from the management with sweet treats prepared by three specialty chefs down to the activity team personally laying towels for each guest in sun lounges with special flags they can put up, so the pool bar team can provide dining service yet still give the guest privacy to enjoy the beach.
Being visible throughout guests’ stay allows Salinda not only to control every rendezvous to ensure it lives up to its promise, but also to build an incredibly trustworthy relationship with its guests. For Salinda, it doesn’t even stop when its guests have already boarded the plane – its resort manager Jeevan Thomas sends them a personal email to ensure they are back home safely.
“Because the last thing we see or hear when we depart from a place tends to be the most powerful memories that come back to us when we think about it again. And that may be one of the determining factors (if not the major one) whether our guests will want to pay Phu Quoc a second visit in the future,” concludes Sandra.
The first impression always counts, but the emotional aftertaste is forever.