By Trevor MacKenzie Managing Director, Mango Tree Worldwide The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. That couldn’t be more true now as we sit and look at our 2020 business plans and go ah, what to do now. I am no different. Starting 2020, what company would not be proud of a 1st quarter performance with five new locations opened? How to stay positive when business is falling in tatters all around you? It has not always been easy to stay upbeat. I spent a whole day pretty much frozen. But the thaw started when my wife scolded me for looking grumpy. She was right. How can you lead by example if you are not positive all the time? I am naturally positive and I look for light in darkness and the light is appearing for our 71 COCA and Mango Tree brands. In China and Hong Kong. we are reopening and will climb steadily once more, day by day, week by week. In Thailand our delivery is working! Transparency What’s undeniable, is business leaders are getting to see the reality of where their businesses are at and I am no different. This is the first major crisis for me, as I am sure it is for many. It has become a time of humbleness and transparency. Transparency in letting staff know the reality we were facing with 90% of our restaurants worldwide shut down. With virtually no revenue since January we had to be honest and say we may lose our jobs if we run out of cashflow. But because of transparency, my offer of a salary reduction, and staff helping with their salaries, we were able to stretch our cashflow. Then the magic started to happen. There were smiles, relief and we bonded as a team. They are positive, not stressed and working from home even more productively than before. Fiscal Discipline We have always been fairly disciplined fiscally and I have prided myself on running a profitable overseas business for years. I got to see that we were not prepared for a six- to nine-months tenure and it exposed some of our weaknesses in receivables. If we had been more diligent with our receivables we would not have had to go to our staff and ask for their help. It was also a great reflection that our business is one dimensional. We collect royalties and franchise fees and we do not have other sources of income so how do we retool our business to find other ways of creating revenue. We now conduct 15-minute brainstorms to everyday on how we can transform our business and the results have been superb. Digital, Digital, Digital Talking digital is important. It’s been important for years but moving on it has been a challenge. Now we have fast tracked launching our new Intranet platform called + Inspire with the goal of educating every single employee worldwide about our brands and the heart and soul of who we are along with other vital trainings. It’s also vital also because of delivery.
FROM KOH CHANG IN THAILAND TO PHU QUOC IN VIETNAM, A STRING OF ISLANDS HUGS THE COAST – AND MOST OF THEM ARE CAMBODIA’S, SITTING OFFSHORE OF THE KINGDOM’S 440 KILOMETRES OF TWISTING AND TURNING COASTLINE – THE PEARLS OF THE CAMBODIAN SEASHORES The beauty of these islands is that most of them are undeveloped, with wild beaches and just a few simple backpacker huts if you want to stay a while – or no huts at all, just you and nature. Perfect for day trips, or pitching a tent in paradise. Then there are two big islands – Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem – which have a whole range of accommodation along their super-long beaches, with dense jungle interiors. Lastly, for those with fat wallets, there are three private islands blessed with fabulous luxury resorts. Well and truly off the map at the turn of the century, Cambodia’s islands now have something for everybody, from just a hammock in the trees, to a wooden chalet with a balcony, through to an exclusive villa with your own pool. Numbering no less than 60, the islands lack roads, ATMs or mains electricity, but boast a host of bars, restaurants and dive shops, plus endless beaches, azure seas and an escapist, easy-going vibe. Controversially, some islands have been leased to developers for large-scale resort building, so who knows how long this away-from-itall tranquillity will exist? Already the charm of the first of Cambodia’s beach hubs, the seaside town of Sihanoukville, has been smashed and annihilated by manic development. In just the last few years, what was a laid-back beach town has become a grotesque casino city for Chinese gamblers, its former backpacker haunts left to rot. That means right now is the time to enjoy the Cambodian islands, while they are still treasures possessing a serenity not easily found elsewhere in Southeast Asia. Let’s check them out. THE NORTHERN GROUP KOH KONG KOAH If you’re coming from Thailand by land – not a bad idea at all, entering Cambodia from Trat province – then the first big island is Koh Kong Koah, which is in fact Cambodia’s largest island. However, it has a strong military presence, so access is tightly controlled and you must visit on a guided boat tour out of Koh Kong town or Tatai costing USD21 per person, including lunch and snorkelling equipment, or you can take overnight trips with beach camping or homestay for USD55. These trips only operate from October to May and it’s forbidden to explore the forested interior. Seven beaches are strung along the western coast, lined with coconut palms and lush vegetation. At the sixth beach from the north, a narrow channel leads to a hidden lagoon. KOH S’DACH ARCHIPELAGO KOH S’DACH Twelve small islands form the Koh S’Dach Archipelago, located offshore midway between the Thai border and the coastal city of Sihanoukville. Just two kilometres long, Koh S’Dach is the only island with a sizeable population, about 2,300, and it buzzes with fishing boats and an ice factory as the economic heart of the archipelago. The beaches
Overlooking an enchanting patchwork of shimmering waters, rolling hills and rice fields, Sofitel Inle Lake Myat Min is redefining the wellness retreat concept on the spectacular shores of one of Southeast Asia’s most iconic destinations. DISCOVER THE LEGENDS OF INLE LAKE AND FIND YOUR INNER SELF To celebrate its first anniversary, Sofitel Inle Lake Myat Min is introducing the first luxury wellness programme in Myanmar to focus exclusively on holistic therapies, traditional treatments, nutrition, fitness coaching and educational wellness initiatives. Guests are invited to indulge in these all- encompassing packages, designed for an unforgettable stay at one of the wellness resort’s 101 guest rooms and suites. Offerings include the Wellness Discovery package, with benefits including a pre-arrival consultation, yoga sessions, customised meditation class, spa treatments, an in-room wellness minibar, and holistic rituals in the morning and evening. Each guest will receive a wellness basket in their suite, which includes all the essentials such as a yoga mat, skipping rope, wellness ball and dumbbells. The Wellness Discovery package is available from USD180 per person, per night. NUTRITIONAL TREATMENTS MEET FARM-TO-TABLE DISHES “You are what you eat” is the motto of Chef Aung Kyaw Swar, the man behind Sofitel Inle Lake Myat Min’s unique culinary experiences and the curator of the Wellness Cuisine programme. Locally-sourced organic products take centre stage on his healthy and nutritious menus, namely at the resort’s Roots Signature Restaurant, which introduces guests to regenerative ingredients that prioritise the body’s requirements and tantalise the taste buds. The restaurant, which overlooks Inle Lake’s gentle waters, aims to instil a sense of spirituality and promote the resort’s wider commitment to sustainability. Chef Aung Kyaw Swar and his team support the local communities by working closely — and responsibly — with producers and short food supply chains in order to discover local flavours, creating authentic, delicious dishes ranging from salads and soups to regional specialities. Sofitel Inle Lake Myat Min maintains its own organic and hydroponic garden, which embraces local Shan methods with a contemporary approach to produce fruits, vegetables and herbs. Harvests are not only used in the kitchen and spa, but also shared with the local community and hotel staff. UNWIND AND REJUVENATE AMIDST TRANQUIL VISTAS The tailor-made energising and healing programmes have been developed to rejuvenate the body, mind and spirit of Sofitel Inle Lake Myat Min’s guests. The mind-body connection of the wellness programmes are designed by onsite Yoga Master, Sudhir Thampi. Born and raised in India, Sudhir’s expertise in yoga, meditation and fitness are vital to the overall success of the wellness journey. Yoga for him is as natural as breathing and guests can enjoy private and group yoga sessions as well as fitness classes as part of their package. Yoga classes are held in a series of waterfront villas, designed in warm hues with natural woven materials offset by red and orange plaid that is inspired by the headscarves of the local Pa-o women. Perched at the edge of the lake and surrounded by verdant gardens and reflective ponds, guests can draw inspiration from these serene,
Amsterdam is a lively city with a central downtown district that does not find time to rest. Here, remnants of the city’s maritime past are interwoven with elements of contemporary life that include bars, shops, cafés and vices with a broad spectrum of appeal. The liberal Dutch society tolerates cannabis usage and prostitution, much to the delight of those from neighbouring countries who travel here to celebrate buck’s parties or inquisitive tourists hailing from countries that are more conservative. While the legality of cannabis is hazy, this raunchy side of Amsterdam appeals to some while most are simply inquisitive and curious onlookers. When most travellers think of Holland and its largest city Amsterdam (The Hague is the capital), images of windmills, wooden shoes called clogs, wheels of Gouda cheese and fields of multicoloured tulips spring to mind. However, the reality is that the closest encounter most visitors will have with these Dutch icons is the endless rows of souvenirs displayed in tourist precincts like Bloemenmarkt, a floating flower market. However, visitors will definitely encounter bikes, dykes and lights while exploring the sights of this lively, multicultural and cosmopolitan city of just 800,000 residents. CENTRAL AMSTERDAM Holland has always intrigued me and even more so, when I realised that a quarter of the country is below sea level with its gateway Schiphol Airport situated on a former lake, several metres below sea level. As my KLM plane approached Schiphol, I checked beneath the seat for the lifejacket, just in case. Of course, planes do not land on water thanks to Holland’s ingenious network of ancient dykes and polders that keep the seawater at bay. I checked a map of Amsterdam to appreciate that the city and surrounding areas are indeed a network of canals, lakes, rivers and dykes holding back the waters of the North Sea. Amsterdam’s famous dykes are not so obvious but without retaining walls and floodgates to keep out the seawater, there would not be much to see of Amsterdam as basically it, and much of Holland, has been reclaimed from the sea. This reclamation has been ongoing for centuries and explains why the Dutch are such great hydrological engineers. I also discovered that one of the functions of windmills in days gone by was to pump water from the land out to sea to keep the seawater in check. Canals are one of the main attractions and a canal cruise is the best way to admire just how important these were for Amsterdam’s original settlers. While the River IJ divides Amsterdam, most visitors do not appreciate it as the main tourist attractions are in central Amsterdam just to the south of the river. From an elevated vantage point at the rear of the main railway station, I appreciated that the River IJ waterfront divides central Amsterdam and Amsterdam Noord. Both parts of the city are visible from the Centraal Station located in a lively port precinct where large ocean-going cruise ships moor at the nearby docks. Visitors emerge from the city side of Centraal Station on
FOR SOME PEOPLE, MYANMAR IS A SECRET COUNTRY THAT CUTS THEM OFF FROM THE REST OF THE WORLD. IN FACT, THERE ARE LOTS OF BEAUTIFUL TREASURES FOR ALL TRAVELLERS TO EXPLORE. AFTER YOUR FIRST TIME TRAVELLING IN THIS GOLDEN LAND, YOU WOULD PLAN FOR MORE, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT IS NOW EASIER TO ACCESS AND MORE CONVENIENT FOR ANY STYLES OF JOURNEY. I took the morning boutique flight of Bangkok Airways from Bangkok to Yangon. After one hour and 20 minutes, I landed at Yangon International Airport where I could see the construction of the new terminal to welcome more visitors in the future. Later on, I was greeted by the limo chauffeur who passed me the Wi-Fi password on board and showed me around with his fluent English. From the airport to downtown, I think Yangon has changed a lot in terms of development, such as public bus service instead of the local mini-trucks, the young generations wearing more pants not just Sarong and Longyi. By the way, the buildings from the British colonial period and the faces of people are still beautiful to me as always. Only 45 minutes from the airport, I saw Sule Pagoda majestically standing in a distance. It meant that we were now arriving at the heart of Yangon. A few minutes later, our limo arrived at Pullman Yangon Centrepoint, the brand new hotel located nearby Sule Pagoda and more attractions in Yangon. In my opinion, this hotel is situated in a perfect location for all travellers who love to walk around the neighbourhood area like me. I could see the Maha Bandula Public Park and the City Hall on the opposite site, surrounded by the wonderful colonial style buildings, while my heart was beating faster when I entered my room and saw the perfect scenery of Yangon river through the window. But it is not enough, the hotel staff told me that the Bogyoke Market and the railway station is located a few blocks from here. That would be my itinerary for tomorrow because this afternoon we had to start our journey off with a visit to the Shwedagon Pagoda, the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar. This Buddhist sanctuary is where the local people and overseas visitors come here to pray and make an offering. From Pullman Yangon Centrepoint, we can see apparently it was built with tons of gold and it is true! Religion is important to the people in Myanmar. Although, the technology tries to conquer the world but people still come here to pay homage to the Buddha, mediate and donate; that’s why Shwedagon Pagoda is the tallest pagoda in this country. After spending a couple hours for worship, we returned to the hotel for dinner at E’cucina Italian Restaurant. It is highly recommended for anyone who wants to enjoy the original Italian taste in Yangon. As I mentioned before, I wanted to visit the neighbourhood area so I went to bed early and fall asleep so quickly in the softened bed of Pullman standard. The next day, I woke
The spirit of old Hanoi will sweep through the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi this month, as the hotel celebrates Tet with a traditional Old Quarter-style market from Jan. 17-19. The festivities continue with special culinary offerings beginning Jan. 24. At the Tet market, food vendors on the hotel’s patio will sell authentic Vietnamese favourites, while children will be given traditional toys known as to he, edible figurines made from glutinous rice powder shaped to look like flowers and animals. Market-goers can also learn the art of classic Vietnamese calligraphy. Wine, craft beer and other refreshments will also be on offer, as will souvenirs that visitors can take home as memories of the Vietnamese lunar new year. Traditional-style Vietnamese houses will also be erected in the hotel’s walkway outside La Boutique du Metropole, adding to the “Old Quarter” ambiance. The Tet market at Metropole Hanoi is open to the public daily, and kicks off Friday, Jan. 17 at 4pm with an opening ceremony featuring a traditional dragon dance. The market continues on Jan. 18 and 19 from 11am to 8pm. More than 15 vendors will take part in this year’s bazaar. Special Metropole Tet hampers with luxury and gourmet items will be available for sale at the market and at L’Epicerie du Metropole from Jan. 6 onwards. The hotel will host a cooking competition at the market at 5pm each day. On Jan. 17, contestants will vie to see who can create the most delicious “Chung cake” (a traditional Vietnamese rice cake) while Jan. 18 will witness a battle of banh cuon, and Jan. 19 will determine who is able to produce the tastiest spring rolls. Winners will receive a voucher for a complimentary homemade cake from L’Epicerie du Metropole. A Vietnamese floral specialist from local boutique Liti Florist will host a flower workshop from 2pm to 4pm on Jan. 18. An exclusive six-course Tet 2020 Gala Dinner at Spices Garden will be served on Jan. 24 featuring grilled oysters with shallots and roasted peanuts; blue prawn in a mild coconut soup; fresh yellow bamboo and beef salad; braised chinh fish with green banana; grilled pigeon and foie gras; and banana fritter, traditional Tet candied fruits and vanilla ice cream. The gala dinner is priced at 2.5 million VND.
The recently refurbished Grand Shanghai is proud to announce their exclusive collaboration with two-Michelin-starred restaurant Canton 8 from Shanghai. Diners can experience three extravagant nights of gastronomical heaven from 24 – 26 December with an eight- course menu comprising of Shanghainese and Cantonese inspired culinary delights priced at $148++ per person. Masterchef Kan Chit Ming of Canton 8 will helm the kitchen of Grand Shanghai as a part of this exclusive collaboration. The unique dinner menu will be a combined reflection of both the restaurant’s signature cooking style and star creations. While the Grand Shanghai team are celebrated for their distinct talent of using innovative new techniques to tease out authentic Shanghainese flavours, Canton 8 offers one of the best Cantonese cuisines in Shanghai with a focus on the original mix of flavours. The three-night special menu curated by the two restaurants, promises an unforgettable gastronomical Michelin-star dining experience to the diners. A definite feast for senses, the sumptuous eight-course menu features a bevy of premium ingredients from around the world. The highlights from the extensive multi-course menu include Chef Kan’s Signature Fried Rice, Boston lobster claw dipped in Chinese wine and served with steamed egg white, and slow-cooked wagyu beef rib in black pepper. For a full list of set menu available, refer to the appendix. For reservations, please visit www.grandshanghai.com.sg or call 6836 6866 .Reservations made before 19 December can avail the early bird discount of 15%. Grand Shanghai 390 Havelock Rd, Level 1 King's Centre, Singapore Tuesday to Friday 11:30am - 2:30pm for lunch 6:00pm - 10:00pm for dinner Saturday & Sunday 11:00am - 2:30pm for lunch 6:00pm - 10.00pm for dinner
As a fast-growing city, the number of multinational enterprises escalates, so does the number of expatriates from around the world. The more the city flourishes, the more it attracts tourists. Apparently, Phnom Penh is now a multicultural modern town where people can have fine, edible comforts as in other major cities around the world, plus one-of-a-kind charms of authentic Cambodian cuisine. THE FRENCH INFLUENCE One of the most recognisable features of Phnom Penh city is the trace of Colonial influences intermingling with Cambodian ambience and young skyscrapers. The French influence that lives on from Cambodia’s so-far-gone history is so palpable in Phnom Penh, especially in its dining scene. In Phnom Penh, a multitude of French diners are at hand if you want to try some, and many of them serves authentic French taste. On the Okha Ket Street, Bouchon Wine Bar is a colonial house with homemade French cuisine in the cosiest setting, serving different dishes from day to night. Apart from choices of wines, its home-made Rose Sangria is a must-try. There are a lot more places to have it the French way, but Bouchon Wine Bar is one of the best ones downtown. Another unmissable stop is Brasserie Louis at Rosewood Phnom Penh, where top-notch French tastes and authentic Cambodian dishes are feasted in the midst of marvellous panoramas of Phnom Penh city. Also at Rosewood Phnom Penh, Patisserie is the place to delight in fine pastries and desserts crafted with real French technique. HAVE IT HEALTHY Vegans and health aficionados are going to love it in Phnom Penh, as the city is bustling with scrumptious vegan-friendly dishes and healthy bowls. To grab some, Eleven One BKK1 is a house in a verdant garden with a myriad of health- and environmentally-friendly choices made from local produces and with zero MSG. Popular is the one-off Amok Burger and Khmer Beef Steak. There is an out-of-the-ordinary alley hidden in the city, and it is the Street 240 ½. The alley is home to artsy venues and fascinating street art, as well as the fantastic ARTillery Café. On the menu for this easy-going café are creative healthy choices, which can be the ideal breakfast to have on a regular basis. Its Poke Bowl fills up the stomach so well and tastes great. Its smoothies and superfood dishes are also worth loving. Aside from the aforementioned spots, vegan and healthy options are available at many restaurants and cafés, so don’t worry about your health plan once you are in Phnom Penh. DRINK THE DRINKS As previously stated, with the Western influences, wines and cocktails can be commonly found at most restaurants. For the ultimate drinkable experience, recommended is Sora Sky Bar at Rosewood Phnom Penh. Even though it is famous for its unbeatable views from the 37th floor, especially during sunset, its drinks are indeed second to none. With highly-skilled bartenders, whether you want to sip classics, signatures, or tailor-made glasses, you are sure to be elated. Rare whiskies are also its strong suit. In Phnom Penh, with big and microbreweries on site, the
Le Bristol Paris, pearl of Oetker Collection, invites all bon vivants to discover superb wines presented by their passionate wine masters, over a four-course dinner from Eric Frechon’s Michelin starred kitchens. The 2019 series of Wine Mondays begins on October 7th. France has long been known as the country of good taste, fine fare and gastronomy. At the heart of this prestigious heritage, there is the noble grape which transforms into a treasure of infinite colours and flavours. At Le Bristol Paris, there are no less than twelve sommeliers each equally determined to seek out the finest wines for the pleasure of the Palace guests. Twelve Wine Masters Under the guidance of Bernard Neveu, Sommelier Director, twelve sommeliers assiduously explore great vintages and seek out the finest newcomers. This elite team of sommeliers discover new wines that will eventually become part of the French gastronomic experience, earning the privilege to be paired with the Michelin starred cuisine of this Parisian Palace. They are masters in creating sublime food and wine pairings, committed connoisseurs, they elevate the profession to an art. A century and half of oenology Le Bristol’s cellars are a hallowed place where some of the rarest wines age with around 100,000 bottles, 60,000 are literally beneath the Palace. There are some legendary vintages such as a Riversaltes 1875, or a Petrus 1961, both on Epicure’s wine list, an historic tome with 2,500 references, cataloguing a century and a half of oenology. “One of the greatest in the world” proclaims the American magazine Wine Spectator, who gave Epicure’s list their highest accolade, the Wine Spectator Grand Award, for the 4th year in a row. The treasure hunt At Le Bristol Paris wine and the wine makers are held in utmost reverence, and Wine Mondays are dedicated to them. These shared evenings of discovery begin months earlier when you find Bernard Neveu and his team striding along the most beautiful domains across the countryside, from the Côte d’Or to Bordeaux, Alsace’s plains to the Loire valley’s hillsides, seeking the most precious bottles. Their treasure hunt culminates at brasserie de luxe 114 Faubourg where they share their greatest finds and best encounters in their Wine Mondays. Wines are paired with a four course dinner created for the evening by three Michelin starred Chef Eric Frechon. Wine Mondays At these evenings the sommeliers reveal remarkable wines, private domains and passionate wine-growers but above all, give meaning to the word pleasure. The evening takes place in the stylish floral surrounds of 114 Faubourg, over a four-course gastronomic dinner. Price €140 per guest. Continuing the degustation, the wine which is given pride of place will be included in the 114 Faubourg wine list for the upcoming month. Price: €140 per guest Programme 2019-2020 7th October 2019 Domaine Mongeard-Mugneret / Bourgogne Côte de Nuits Family-owned since 1620 in the heart of the prestigious village of Vosne Romanée, the Mongeard-Mugneret estate has some 30 hectares of vineyards divided into 35 appellations, including the magnificent grands crus such as Echezeaux, Grands-Echezeaux, Clos de Vougeot and Richebourg. Wines offer the velvety texture and delicacy typical of great Burgundy wines,