In conversation with Marshall Orton, La Veranda Resort Phu Quoc’s new General Manager, on eco-friendly initiatives, hashtags and what guests can expect for 2019
You have worked in many different countries before becoming the General Manager at La Veranda Resort Phu Quoc – MGallery by Sofitel. What are the advantages of working in various countries and different cultures?
When you work in various countries, the cultural diversity is a joining of a variety of backgrounds, race, gender, age or religion, working as one team with one goal. Knowing how to create relationships and understanding the cultural nuances help contribute to our efficiency and creating a competitive advantage.
For travelers who love the beach, why should they put Phu Quoc on their list?
Phu Quoc in a nutshell is the ideal ‘island sanctuary’ for travelers to Vietnam to visit. Fringed by white sand beaches and enveloped by the bluest waters, Phu Quoc has an unspoiled coastline and is Vietnam’s largest island. Just 50 minutes from Ho Chi Minh City by plane, its the perfect sanctuary for peace and tranquility. For those who love beaches, Phu Quoc is truly a paradise with many unspoilt beaches including Sao Beach, Long Beach, Khem Beach and Rach Vem Beach.
Aside from the beaches, travelers will love Phu Quoc’s year-round heat. The average temperature being around 27 degree Celcius, with the dry season beginning in November and lasting until March make it a fabulous beach escape destination.
You started in F&B as a chef, how did you make it to the top as one of Accor’s General Managers? What particular difficulties did you face along the way? How does this background benefit you in your current role?
It was a big move out of the culinary field back to studies within Accor and joining the IHMP program that has made it possible to continue my growth in the industry. Working mostly in hotels Mr. Marshall Orton throughout my career, it seems like a natural progression for a career and it has been an amazing step into this role of General Manager at La Veranda.
Where does La Veranda stand on its environmental impact on the island of Phu Quoc? What eco-friendly initiatives are implemented in the resort?
Sustainability is a word we take seriously at La Veranda. As an Accor hotel, we carry out Planet 21 initiatives. Planet 21 is Accor’s sustainability program with a vision of promoting Positive Hospitality to act in favor of the planet.
At La Veranda, we perennially review our resort operations to find new ways and means to advocate for the planet. We recently implemented a no plastic straw policy. A simple gesture when you think about it but this means not throwing out thousands of straws each year. For awhile now we have in place the following: 1) usage of silk tea bags only, 2) use of refillable shampoo/ conditioner/liquid soap bottles, 3) waste segregation, and 4) usage of organic toiletries.
The biggest move for us was when 3 years ago we put together our own fully sustainable organic garden. It is 1,000 square meters in size within the confines of the property. We create our own organic fertilizers using Japan’s EM-1 technology, do our own vermiculture, and make our own organic fertilizers. This means that all our salads and herbs come from our own farm and we are certain it’s clean and 100% chemical free.
What five hashtags would you use for La Veranda?
The first two hashtags I would use to describe La Veranda would be #ColonialIndochine and #Elegance. This is perfect as more than a century of history is built into the walls and ornate furnishings of La Veranda. You can see the decor as a tribute to our founder Madame Catherine’s storied family connection to Phu Quoc and colonial Indochine.
The third hashtag I would use for La Veranda would be #TropicalGarden. Aside from its iconic colonial Indochine structure, the resort has this lush tropical garden that cocoons the luxurious 70 rooms and villas. #Romance would be the next hashtag that I think fits in with what La Veranda has to offer. Intimate dinners, private escapes, magical moments are what romance is made of at our property. Last year, we won Asia’s Best Luxury Romantic Beach Resort from World Luxury Hotel Awards—the “Oscars of the Hotel Industry.” This is simply testament to the great romantic experiences that guests can have at La Veranda.
Finally, La Veranda is also all about #Wellness. Just last month, the resort was awarded the Readers’ Award for Best Spa 2019 from Conde Nast Johansens, which means that the spa experiences we create for our valuable guests is truly world- class. Next year, 2019, we will open a brand-new wellness center with vision of guiding people back to their natural state of wellbeing. So, watch out for this.
We will soon enter 2019, what vision do you have for La Veranda in the new year?
‘French luxury in a family environment’ is my vision for La Veranda in the coming years. We will keep what makes us unique and lovely, which is a luxurious getaway at a beautiful French colonial mansion by the sea, but twist it towards a family environment. La Veranda will offer family- friendly retreats in an ever luxurious setting inspired by the long-gone slow, simple and refined French colonial era.
Christmas and New Year are around the corner, what events has La Veranda planned?
All MGallery hotels around the world will celebrate the 2018 festive season with the theme of “Art De Noel: The Enchanted Journey”, we have created a travel-inspired festive season that brings our guest along on a delightful journey. You will see festive decorations around the resort with travel themed ornaments like planes, suitcases, globes, ships, hot air balloon.
For La Veranda’s Christmas and New Year’s Eve glamour parties, we’ve decided to take guests to a journey to the past. Our Christmas Gala takes guests to Old World 60’s Saigon during the heydays of the ao dai clothing and the Prohibition Era for the New Year Gala.
Finally, we are proud to present the “Art of Christmas” series from December 20 to January 20. Guests can choose to join any of our series of workshops, events, or promotions to experience the charm of La Veranda through various activities.