Leading With Love In Pursuit Of Pure Luxury

Arief Gunwan is a man with impressive credentials. Accumulating over 30 years of experience as a leading business development strategist and luxury hospitality specialist, he is the powerhouse behind the success of Ho Chi Minh City’s luxury riverside city resort, Villa Song, and believes that love should come first in our endeavours to succeed in any industry.

As someone who has worked in the luxury, travel & hospitality sector, what is your personal idea of pure luxury?

According to me, pure luxury is like unconditional love, as we cannot serve others without love. Love is without limitation or the expectation of repayment. In this ethos of love, luxury is a state of mind. We perpetuate love and luxury by renewing the minds of others towards love, and by providing the comfort needed to feel peace in your heart and soul.

As Chairman of International Luxury Travel & Hospitality Alliance, what difficulties and limitations do you see in the Vietnamese market compared to other countries?

As of today, the Vietnamese market for boutique and luxury hotels still lacks standardisation and classification in the system for awarding International Hotel Star Ratings. As such, we, the International Travel & Hospitality Alliance have had to base our success on rate classifications. This said, our alliance generally boasts high ratings, representative of the high standard for the quality of our products and services.

What factors are lacking in the Vietnamese hospitality market today?

In Vietnam, there are several misconceptions of the definition of hospitality. Hospitality is not a hotel or a restaurant, nor is it a commodity or property. Hospitality is a lifestyle, and when we look at it as a lifestyle then our eyes are opened to the fact that the modern world is lacking in love, and this doesn’t just apply to Vietnam. Therefore, we must love one another or be hospitable to one another, that is our value. We strongly believe that love is the foundation of hospitality which can be applied to any job in any sector of any industry.

What were the most important elements you wanted to manifest when curating Villa Song and your other projects in Vietnam?

The most important element still comes back to love. We aim to continue to transform our valued employees, guests, and neighbours into believers of unconditional love under the care of our city resort and other upcoming projects in Vietnam.

Villa Song is a stunning boutique hotel by the river, how special is the culinary experience there?

We are the best listeners when it comes to catering to our beloved guests’ needs. We continue to strive to make Villa Song a spectacular culinary destination by the Saigon River.

It is known that Villa Song is often the venue for advanced courses for the tourism and hospitality industry, along with luxurious culinary experiences, marketing events, press conferences, sales programs and other brand building activities. What does this mean to you and the boutique hotel?

Upscale and luxury properties are rising up everywhere in Vietnam, but there is still a huge need for specific education to respond to the growing sector’s demand. So, we have answered by developing the Kingdom Hospitality Masterclass, so we can produce Master Butlers, Master Concierges, and Master Hoteliers.

How do you perceive the sustainable development trend in the hotel industry in Vietnam? Do you intend to develop Villa Song in this direction?

We totally support this direction, Villa Song is already developing and practising a sustainable hotel lifestyle and green best-practices in our maintenance, services, logistics, products and supplies.

Gourmet Traveller