Dawid Koegelenberg was recently appointed as General Manager of Paresa Phuket Resort in Kamala. Koegelenberg brings more than 18 years of luxury hotel and restaurant experience to Paresa. Originally from South Africa, the seasoned hotelier spoke with The Phuket News about himself, his past and his future plans.
Tell us about your life/career leading up to your appointment in Phuket
Originally from South Africa, I graduated from The Cape Town Hotel School before setting off to Switzerland, Germany, France and later London, where I spent 14 years working in hospitality at the Michelin-star level, first as a chef and later as General Manager of some of London’s renowned restaurants. In 2010 I relocated to Thailand for the role of Resort Manager at the Sarojin Resort in Khao Lak.
Prior to joining the team at Paresa, I held the position of Resort Manager at the iconic Six Senses Koh Samui. I have a prestigious qualification in Viticulture (science, production and study of grapes) from Brighton University England, I am a qualified Sommelier and also lectured at the London Wine Academy for over six years.
Can you tell us your philosophy on management?
I have more than 20 years of luxury hotel and restaurant experience but I am still learning everyday how to be a good manager. Anybody can sit in an office and manage staff but the true test in successful management is when your staff respects you. My number one rule is I don’t deal with drama. I act on facts only and I don’t believe anything until I see it.
Sometime last week at 1am, I was on top of a huge septic tank in Gucci shoes dealing with a problem. My staff respects the fact that the boss is getting his hands (shoes) dirty and not just delegating problems to others.
Since joining Paresa in July, what is your outlook/impressions on Phuket’s hospitality/tourism industry – this high season, next low season and beyond?
Luxury today is not about a beautiful room, or great car, or great meal. Luxury today in the sense of travel is about an experience you are providing. That experience is a collection of key attributes like service, people, physical room, location, tailor made private excursions and food.
All these things must come together in the right way to provide a truly unique luxury experience. Most guests, especially those who travel by private jet, can stay in the best suite anywhere, so the room itself doesn’t make them say “wow” anymore.
But seeing life as it was a hundred years ago, tailor-made bespoke adventures, a day in the life of a rice farmer, becoming an elephant owner for a day, or enjoying a private collection as their very own, or even experiencing a glittering Royal Barge procession from their river view pool villa – all these things come together to exceed expectations. Today, butlers won’t do it anymore, that has become passé and we have to show guests more. Too many resorts rely on a room to create that luxury experience.
Do you have any plans/projects at the hotel you are looking forward to in the near future?
We are in the process of re-launching The Spa by Paresa together with our new Spa & Wellness Manager, with more unique organic signature treatments only available at Paresa. Furthermore, we are the only resort with a designated “dream-making team” purely looking after guests’ every needs and constantly looking for that bespoke experience that sets us apart from our competitors.
Any other thoughts you’d like to share, about Paresa / Phuket hospitality in general?
Under my leadership Paresa will unveil more “bespoke experiences” and with my hands-on operational approach, charismatic personality and talents as a Sommelier, Wine Maker, Chef, Lecturer and Expertise in the management of luxury resorts I feel I am the ideal fit for the role of General Manager at Paresa.