Samui Wining & Dining
In The Hot Seat
We meet up with Clinton Lovell, the General Manager of Mercure Samui Buri Resort.


9Resort General Managers may not be the member of staff you come in contact with the most often during your vacation. But their role is pivotal and what happens behind the scenes goes a long way in determining just how enjoyable your stay will be. I met up with Clinton Lovell, the General Manager of the Mercure Samui Buri Resort in Maenam, to find out what his thoughts on Samui are.


JP: Can you tell us a little about your background please.

CL: I was born and raised in Auckland, New Zealand, where my family still resides. I left for Australia when I was eighteen years old for a new Swiss-managed hotel school opening up in the Blue Mountains of Australia. At the time it was the first of its kind in that part of the world.


JP: How has your career progressed and why did you choose the Hospitality Industry?

CL: I’ve always wanted to be a Hotel Manager and I remember exactly when I decided this. When I was very young my family went to a new high-rise hotel in Auckland, which at the time was the new Pan Pacific Hotel, for my mother’s birthday. I remember arriving and having our car parked, receiving a beautiful welcome in the lobby with a good looking and professional team behind the front desk welcoming international travellers, then enjoying a fantastic meal in the beautiful Japanese Teppanyaki restaurant. I really wanted to be part of all that excitement. Later on I chose to go to the best Hotel Management School available and get the best head-start possible. Prior to my Samui appointment I worked in Australia for many years and then in Hong Kong, Siem Reap, Bangkok and Pattaya.


JP: Why did you decide to take up this position?

CL: I love the mobility and opportunities the Accor Group offers and I consider myself very lucky to be given this role at the resort. Two years ago, when I moved to Koh Samui, the destination was a fairly new one for the company so my challenge was to re-brand the hotel to be a beautiful, unique and surprising resort, which I’m proud to say we have achieved. Samui is also a fantastic place to live and work.


JP: How would you describe Mercure Samui Buri to someone who had never been before?

CL: Mercure Samui Buri Resort is a hidden gem. It’s a beautifully appointed boutique-style property in a majestic location offering all of the world famous Mercure facilities and services all rolled into a truly wonderful Thai experience. Our key features include a warm and personalized service, huge stunning rooms and villas, a fantastic beachfront and, arguably, the most comprehensive collection of sports facilities and activities.


JP: What’s a typical week like for you?

CL: We like to start the week by setting a great mood at the resort. Our entire management team welcomes resident guests for ‘Meet the Manager cocktails’ where we chat with guests and see if there is any way we can ensure a more comfortable and enjoyable stay for them. Naturally, we have a lot of daily office meetings and we each have specific responsibilities. The daily breakfast period is a great time to talk with guests and our popular beach buffet or themed buffets nights are always a hit and another opportunity for interesting guest chats. I always encourage my team to remember that guests are not an interruption to our business, rather guests are our business. If the guests are happy our business will be successful.


JP: What do you think you have achieved so far at the resort and how do you see the next 12 months?

CL: Aside for the many renovations that took place throughout 2009 and the fabulous facilities and services we continue to develop, I believe we have successfully created a spirit or ambience that our guests are reacting well to. We are seeing a good level of repeat business and gaining stronger support from our travel agent partners who really trust us to deliver a memorable experience for their clients. Our outlook going forward is very optimistic.


JP: What’s the impression you have about the standards and levels of cuisine at your resort and on the island as a whole?

CL: I’m very proud of our food at the hotel. I think our menu is attractive and creative and represents great value to all nationalities. We also provide daily specials, themed buffet nights and memorable private dinners, both large and small. Many island residents, guests and visitors enjoy the cuisine and pass on great comments to us and many also have the ‘Accor Advantage Plus Card’ which delivers fantastic discounts and benefits. Anyone can pick up an application form at reception.


JP: What do you see as the most important aspect of your job?

CL: Aside from remembering to always be charming and a great ambassador for the property, on a workflow or productivity level I think the most important aspect is to be super-organized. General Managers are expected to always move the business forward so this means noting improvements, discussing actions and best-practice and following up on your own tasks and the delegated tasks of your managers.


JP: When you get some time to yourself, what are some of the things you like to do to relax?

CL: I like to enjoy the natural beauty of Koh Samui whenever possible. I love to ride my motorbike on a clear day instead of taking the car and I like to run, swim, cycle or kayak with friends. I’m a ‘foodie’ and there are some great restaurants ranging from local seafood huts on the beach to sexy upscale options with most taking advantage of great views across the Gulf. If you love food then you’ll really love Samui.


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