Samui Wining & Dining
Why Here?

Emmanuel there’s something special about Samui. Levasseur, General Manager of Prana Beach Villas, thinks

 

19When a person really loves their job it’s pretty obvious. Ask them what they do and they’ll immediately light up. And that’s what happens when you chat to Emmanuel Levasseur, General Manager at Prana Beach Villas. He’s been travelling ever since he was old enough to leave home, and has since had stints in multiple destinations all over the world. But he has now been on Samui for ten years - seems he just can’t get enough of this island’s charm.

 

Can you tell us a bit about your background please??

      I grew up in France, and that’s where I did my hospitality training. I’ve worked in hospitality for 26 years now, at every level – including housekeeping, chef and waiter. I started work at 14 years old, so I know the industry inside out. I’m a traveller though, so when I left home I went as far away as possible from Europe! And since then I’ve worked in Australia, New Caledonia, India, Indonesia, Singapore and now Thailand, staying in each place for four or five years on average. But I’ve been in Thailand ten years now.

 

When did you first come to Samui?

      I remember it was the year of the grand opening of Reggae Pub on the lake, so that’s 24 years ago! Samui was very different back then, just a small island with a few bungalows. Chaweng wasn’t what it is now – no big hotels or anything – it was a wonderful time to be on the island.

 

Tell us about Prana Beach Villas.

      It’s a healthy resort, and a non-smoking one. We serve healthy vegetarian food in Amala Restaurant. We grow a lot of our own herbs and vegetables in our hydroponic garden, and then use the plants we’ve grown in our menu. Guests really appreciate it. We’ve also incorporated a lot of natural materials in the construction of the building, so the aesthetic of the resort matches the ethos.


What’s a typical day like for you?

      Essentially I solve problems. Everybody looks to me to fix things – that’s the role of the General Manager. But actually I have a number of responsibilities at the moment – I run this hotel, I do a lot of work on the new wing, Prana Resort Nandana, which will be opening soon across the road from the existing resort. And I also run the ten condominiums that we have in Patong, Phuket, for our members. So I’m actually taking care of three places – I’m very, very busy!

And what do you see as the most important aspect of your job?

      I’d say that every part of my job is important, even the small things. In hospitality it’s sometimes the small details that make the most difference in terms of the comfort of our guests, welcoming them on arrival for example. Of course there’s the financial and marketing sides, which are very important, but it’s also about working with your heart. In hospitality if we don’t love what we do then we can’t do a good job because the guests can feel it.

What’s the hardest part of your job?

      The most difficult part is trying to satisfy everybody 100%, which is the dream of anybody who works in a hotel. But of course even if you do your best, everybody’s different, so you can’t please everyone in the same way. But I love my job, so I welcome the challenge and enjoy every part of it – nothing is boring.

What advice would you give to young hospitality professionals who want to succeed in the business?

      The first thing is to be patient and to listen to people with more experience. To quote Steve Jobs, “I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” That’s the saying I live by.

And what are your goals for the next 12 months?

      Prana Resort Nandana is the main focus for us right now. To finish that and to have a successful opening.

Do you have any personal recommendations for us from the Amala menu?

      That’s a tough one – we have a lot of nice things. Our Thai food is very nice, and the vegetarian tapas is lovely too. But really, I recommend all the dishes on the menu! We don’t feel like a ‘normal’ vegetarian restaurant, everything is exciting. I eat from the menu every day and I don’t get bored. We have a lovely restaurant – we were even featured in Thailand’s Best Restaurants guide 2011!

And lastly, when you get some time to yourself what do you do to relax on Samui?

      I work! But when I’m not working, I like to spend time with my kids – I have two wonderful daughters. And I also like watersports like windsurfing, and even just lying on the beach. We have a beautiful island here and I like to do activities to really appreciate it. I love it here!

 

Christina Wylie


 


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