The Significance Of Traditions
Upon his arrival in Cambodia in February 2011, Joffrey Thin-Gris, General Manager, The Aviary Hotel in Siem Reap played a crucial role in the successful launch of a boutique hotel in Luang Prabang. Since then, he has emerged as a respected figure discussing the significance of traditions and profound local beliefs in contemporary hospitality. Weathering the challenges posed by the global pandemic, Joffrey now envisions promising opportunities ahead for Cambodian tourism.
Although now a successful hotelier, he started his career in the airline industry, before switching to consultancy and hospitality. As a guest in a foreign country, he has embraced the local lifestyle and has forged bounds with the leaders of local communities and local artisans. Part of these initiatives can been seen at The Aviary Hotel as well in its community-friendly tour itineraries.
“The hotel management industry is constantly growing and changing – I enjoy the challenges as well as the joys of managing a large, dynamic team. For Southeast Asia, I believe as a Westerner that there is much for me to learn. In Cambodia, people here possess strong values, such as being committed to family and community; and taking pride in their unique traditions and the quality of their work. In the realm of business, Asians base their relationship on trust and that is a great asset. Contractual agreement is still very important but a relationship that is built upon the belief in each other and gradual trust over time is to be treasured.
“I love going to work and my role as a General Manager – it’s my universe. It is important to love what you do. However, it is definitely a challenge and one that I overcome through hard work and dedication. Every day, I set a list of goals and tasks and go about meeting them throughout the day. This keeps me focused and also keeps my team on task. My biggest joy is coming into work every day knowing that my family is supporting me every step of the way.
Having overcoming the downsides of Covid-19, the ripples of which are still causing issues across Southeast Asia, Joffrey is keen to draw attention to the important developments which travellers can expect to find when they arrive in the charming Cambodian town, including community and environmental-driven ideas.
“I expect us to implement more ways for us to further reduce our carbon footprint, as giving back to nature is something very important to The Aviary. I would expect us to bring in more local artists and their work to the hotel and our retail arm, The Aviary Square, spotlighting the many local talents Cambodia has to offer. Of course, I hope for 2024 to be another successful and great year for us!
“Cambodia is an amazing country – not only is it affordable, but people in the service industry always serve with a smile. Cambodia also has naturally gorgeous temples, and trees – walking around in them truly makes you feel the sacred energy and the deep history within them. Cambodia is also rich in Khmer culinary tradition with delicious freshly-prepared food. As such, Cambodia is a very special place, and cannot be compared to its neighbours.
“For example, everything in our design-driven hotel is made locally – we source our own fabrics and furniture locally and above all, it has character and soul. We are also dedicated to eco-friendliness. A big step for us in being eco-friendly is in the eco-gym, where all equipment will be producing self-made electricity. On top of this, we provide drinkable water filtered straight from the tap, available everywhere in the hotel – this has greatly helped us reduce the amount of plastic we use in the hotel. We aim to provide guests with the greatest experience possible, while also giving back to the space that we are nestled in,” says Joffrey.
While a great number of tourists only get to see the wonders of Angkor Wat, Siem Reap and the surrounding areas are also greatly enjoyed by experience-seeking travellers who like to get off the beaten path. From lakes and temples to exotic birds of paradise and rice paddies fringed by tropical jungle, the region is rich in life wildlife.
“We have so many temples tucked away in lesser-known locations that are perfect for a peaceful evening, or even to view the sunset. Our bird-watching experience is a hit! Visitors are “flocking” to our hotel as we bring them to see birds such as the Black-headed woodpecker, Blossom-headed parakeet, the Collared Falconet and many more.
“For those who are thinking of a career is hospitality, my advice would to be consistent in everything you do. When it comes to running a boutique hotel, or any business for that matter, branding consistency is crucial. The brand’s mood, message and communication, both on and offline, should maintain the same throughout, as this allows the building of trust and loyalty from our audience and clientele.
“Consider how our property’s new Sambok rooms’ interiors blend elegance in modern trends with Cambodian design – this is in line with how we pay homage to Cambodia’s art, culture and wildlife. It is crucial to clearly communicate, and be consistent in communication with all the stakeholders involved,” he tells us.
So with a large number of guests and stakeholders to satisfy, how does Joffrey like to relax when he has some time off in his busy schedule?
“I love the nature of Cambodia’s beautiful countryside. Every time I head out there it’s like a reset for me.”
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Source: Punch Media Digital.