Talking Travel with … Dieter Ruckenbauer, GM of Vana Belle
Dieter Ruckenbauer is a globe-trotting hospitality professional who now calls Vana Belle, on the powdery white shores of Koh Samui’s Chaweng Noi Beach, his home. Vana Belle is part of Marriott’s Luxury Collection Hotels and Resorts.
Tell us a bit about yourself:
I’m originally from Austria but have lived in more than 10 countries. Since 1988 I have worked with many international and private hospitality companies, but Marriott is without doubt my favourite and has contributed significantly to my development.
Within ultra-luxury travel, what trends do you see happening right now?
Luxury travellers today are looking for transformative, one-of-a-kind experiences with personal fulfilment. They no longer want to sightsee among crowds of people, nor are they looking for bling and oversized bathtubs! They prefer to explore off the beaten track and immerse themselves in the local culture.
And time is precious, so it is vital that everything runs seamlessly throughout the entire journey.
Can you share an unforgettable luxury experience?
Repeat guests staying at Vana Belle were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. We ensured they had their favourite bathroom amenities and fresh fruits – even the air con was set to the temperature they preferred.
So deep was their trust in their butler that for their anniversary celebration, they requested he arrange a complete surprise for them!
The butler arranged a blessing ceremony with monks in a local temple, followed by a cooking class with the head chef. After a couples spa treatment they ended a perfect day with cocktails and dinner in a secret location. The entire incredible day was captured on film and presented to the guests as a beautiful memento.
What is something most people don’t know about Vana Belle, but you think they should?
The hotel is located on the main street of Koh Samui, yet once inside there is a feeling of calmness and intimacy. The resort surroundings have been inspired by the mystical forest, Himmapan, with nine sculptures of mythical creatures located throughout the lush gardens.
What is one of the unique selling points of Vana Belle?
Chaweng Noi is arguably the best beach on the island. We are located on a 180-metre-long, white sandy beach with clear water perfect for swimming. We consider our resort, our staff and all our guests to be a family. The personal engagement we offer creates unforgettable memories.
What is the single, most defining thing about Vana Belle?
We are one of only two hotels in Koh Samui with elite concierges that are part of the internationally-recognised Les Clefs d’Or. They offer personalised experiences that evoke ancient cultural traditions such as the traditional Thai hand washing ceremony and meditating with local monks.
Please contact us for more information about Vana Belle, a Luxury Collection Resort, Koh Samui