We recently asked Lyndon Ellis, General Manager of Anantara Vacation Club Mai Khao Phuket, to share his thoughts on the difference between traditional hotels and timeshare resorts, creating unforgettable guest experiences and his long and fruitful career within Thailand’s hospitality industry.
What is your background in the hospitality industry?
I have lived in Thailand for 11 years, with most of that time spent in Phuket. I have worked for Anantara Vacation Club Mai Kao Phuket for the past five years and was with the Sheraton brand under Starwood Hotels, based in Phuket and Koh Samui, prior to that. Prior to arriving in Thailand, I worked for Le Meridien in Siem Reap. In terms of my career, I spent several years as a Director of Finance with experience in Rooms and Food & Beverage prior to becoming a General Manager. My career in the hospitality industry has been fulfilling and rewarding, to say the least!
How does Anantara Vacation Club Mai Khao Phuket set itself apart from other hotels and resorts?
Operationally, it’s similar. However, it’s the way that we look after our guests that distinguishes us from other hotels and resorts offering similar amenities and services. This is due to the fact that around 40% of our guests are Club Points Owners. Given how often they stay with us, our staff is able to form a personal bond with them and remember the little details such as their meal preferences, special occasions and travel style. Using our system’s database, we can keep track of not only our Club Points Owners preferences, but also those of their friends and families. This helps us to make each of their stays and experiences with Anantara Vacation Club more personal. It allows our Club Points Owners to really feel that they are part of a family.
What is the difference between managing a hotel property and a timeshare resort?
The key difference in managing a Vacation Club Resort is that I am more focused on the guest’s experience with us than a typical hotel or resort’s management team is. The General Manager of a traditional hotel will spend a lot of time on sales and marketing activities to encourage the public to visit the property. 70% of his or her time will be spent on marketing and PR efforts. However, in our case, most of these activities are done by our marketing team. This frees up my time to concentrate on consistently improving our guests’ experience with us.
We know that you personally reply to each review that Anantara Vacation Club Mai Khao Phuket receives on TripAdvisor. How important is guest feedback for you and why?
Feedback from our guests is crucial in order to improve the overall level and quality of service we offer. It’s incredibly important to hear from somebody with a fresh set of eyes. Being on-site every day, my team members and I might not notice everything. When new guests come to stay with us, they are very much in tune with their surroundings and are able to notice different details from an objective point of view. So it’s important to take their feedback into account and act based on that feedback. In terms of responses, guests on TripAdvisor can make comments about their stay and the platform fortunately allows us to reply. Within your response, you have the opportunity to address any issues raised or positive feedback given by the guest. You can also use this chance to highlight some of the resort’s unique selling points. Many of our guest reviews mention that the villas are very special, given that they offer a kitchen with a full size fridge, washing machine and dryer. Those kinds of amenities are increasingly important to travellers when they’re planning a vacation. When users read reviews of our property on TripAdvisor before booking in, they’ll take previous guests’ comments into account, as well as form an opinion of the level of service we offer based on how we reply.
What do you enjoy the most about your work?
The most enjoyable aspect is working with my team members each and every day – especially because I built the team up from opening. I take great pride in inspiring my team and watching them develop and grow their professional skillset. Together, we can help our guests create unforgettable travel memories.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned throughout your career?
Patience and determination. The hospitality industry does not offer short term rewards. When you manage a hotel or a resort, you witness the results of your efforts after some time. Often, it can take several months to benefit from today’s efforts. There is nothing better than looking back at a project after one, two or even three years and being blown away by how far we’ve come and how much we’ve improved.
Last but not least, which attraction or cultural highlight would you recommend to those travelling to Phuket?
I believe that one of Phuket’s hidden gems is its Old Town. It provides visitors with the opportunity to experience the real Phuket and see how locals go about their daily lives. In recent years, tourism to the area has increased due to its variety of boutiques, coffee shops, restaurants and local markets – not to mention the fantastic Sino-Portuguese architecture! At Anantara Vacation Club Mai Khao Phuket, we offer a walking map of Old Phuket Town to our guests as well as a shuttle bus service to and from Phuket’s Old Town. Don’t miss out and ask our guest services team for more details during your next stay!
If you are interested in learning more about how you can take advantage of the many benefits of Vacation Ownership or have additional questions about what you’ve read, please email firstname.lastname@example.org