Home Insider Expat Insider Challenges of managing a top lodge in Karen state Interview with Ms....

Challenges of managing a top lodge in Karen state Interview with Ms. Leila Nortier

Name : Ms. Leila Nortier

Position : General Manager

Nationality : French

Firstly, I lived about two months in Yangon and then I moved to Karen State.


MI: What was your impression of the country then?

“I wanted to have some changes in my life, I got it!!!”

MI: Please explain our readers about Hpa-An Lodge Hotel.

Hpa-An lodge is a charming boutique hotel with natural surroundings and a fantastic view of the sacred mountain Mt. Zwegabin. It is a place to relax by the pool or on your balcony after long day excursions.

MI: How was the hotel founded in Hpa-An, Karen State, not in the commercial city of Myanmar?

The idea of the owner (local) is to develop new destination and Karen state is very rich and new for the tourism. Karen state has still villages with ethnical tribes, with many points of interest: river tour, bike tours, trekking, visiting different caves. Also, Hpa An is very close to Mawlamyine a nice city to visit with a colonial atmosphere.

MI: How did you end up as the General Manager of the Lodge hotel?

Before I came to Myanmar, I have been worked about eleven years in hotel industry sector in many countries; England, Dubai, Singapore etc. After a few years working in Singapore, I was looking for some changes. At that time, I had been offered this job, I did not wait too long to accept. It was such a big challenge and an exciting opportunity.

MI: How did you feel when you first reach to Karen State?

I reached there in rainy season, so there was floods everywhere and I was upset. But when I see the weather getting better, here is beautiful, beautiful surrounding, all the greens and the middle of mountain. And I really like it.

MI: What is the long-term plans for the Lodge?

To keep the quality and innovating our services to the best with our local team. To develop the region which was unknown to the outside world as this is one of the most beautiful area in Myanmar.

MI: Please share with our readers the room and pricing information.

According to the season, the price is set from 150$ to 200$ and for the local/ expats we have seasonal promotional rates with special offers. We are working with marketing manager in Yangon to reduce the price for the low season. And for the water festival, we do some special package.

MI: What is the current occupancy ratio like?

For opening, we are very satisfied as first three months we had over forty percent occupancy. And we are expecting more growth in occupancy for coming season.

MI: What is the unique selling point of the Lodge?

As a location, we are in a prime location at the valley of Mt. Zwegabin, and into the nature with green surrounding and atmosphere. For quality of the bungalow, there are nice wooden cottages in Traditional Karen House Design. Each cottage is stand alone with simple design with woods in simplicity using luxury amenities. With our for- eign and local team, we are trying our best to reach the best service hotel in Hpa An and to maintain our quality of service. We have very good food and beverage menu covering Int’l to local with reasonable price and quality food with experience Chef Team.

MI: Could you share us the major difficulties you face currently and how do you resolve them?

To make known this destination oversea. To train the staffs in the beginning but it was worth for as we are very pleased to see Karen people very good in adapting and reaching to the stage we wish for in a few months.

To make a lot of promotion, to invite agents to visit and understand the region is rich enough to spend 2-3 nights easily.

MI: How do you see the hotel and tourism sector of Myanmar?

The Tourism sector is growing well and new hotels in new destination like Hpa An and Hpa An Lodge is a good attraction to make the visitors stay longer in the country. As well for the repeating clients, it is better to have new destination and new hotels.

MI: What are the biggest challenges of working in Myanmar compare with other countries?

To get the supplies is a challenge as we have quite high demands and it is not easy to get all we need.

The ambition to keep up our services and standard but within affordable price range for tourist.

MI: What would be your advice for someone who is looking for visit Myanmar?

This is the right time to visit Myanmar. Tourists must see the major places like Ba- gan, Inle and Mandalay but to see a real Myanmar is important to stay in places out of beaten tracks.

MI: How are you enjoying your days in here?

Since the opening four months ago, loads of work, but when I have some free time, I like to discover more the area and take part to the local community event with our staff, especially to understand better the culture.

During the upcoming raining season, I will have the time to learn Myanmar language which is very important for me.[/paypal]