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DEC 2010

Cambodia Indonesia Laos Malaysia Philippines Vietnam

Danish Vietnamese Education Cooperation

Coming Events Golf Tournament Season 2010-2011 Date: 16 January 2011 Location: Philippine Navy Golf Club Scandinavian Golf Club in Philippines will organize the monthly Golf tournament on 16 January 2011. The date has been confirmed so please plot this day into your calendar. More detail will be announced at

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SSP Annual General Meeting Date: 26 January 2011 If you are Scandinavian who currently live in Philippines. You are invited to attend The Annual General Meeting where the new SSP board will be elected. Do you want to make a difference and maybe add «President» to your business card? This is your chance! Time and location will be announced later. Stay tuned at

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Nordic Bowling Tournament Date: 29 January 2011 Nordic Club in Jakarta will organize a Bowling Tournament on 29 January 2011. The best opportunity to meet up and join a fun bowling games with your Scandinavian friends living in Jakarta. Please mark your calendar and contact the president at president@

SWEA World Meeting Date: 16-20 Mar 2011 Location: Kuala Lumpur Swedish Women’s Education Association (SWEA), Kuala Lumpur chapter would like to invite members from all over the world to participate the World Meeting (WM) and Regional Meeting in Kuala Lumber, Malaysia from 16 to 19 March 2011. The meeting is held every second year with participants from 77 chapters in all geographical regions. An attractive program is scheduled. For further information, reservation, and registration please contact or

MASBA Pub Evening in November


he Malaysian-Swedish Business Association (MASBA) organized Monthly Pub Evening on November 11th, 2010. 20 Members and guests delightfully gathered at the Ronnie Q Pub located at Bangsar







Baru. MASBA thanks to Mr. Peter Karlsson from Asian Tigers Transpo Movers (M) Sdn Bhd who continuously supports their event. The next Pub Evening was held on December 9 at the same venue which is the last pub evening in 2010.



1. Crown Relocations - Frank (Left) and Intermovers - Patrice (Right) 2. Venus (Left) and Mr Frank (Right) 3. Gunila (Left) and Karin (Right) - MASBA Directors 4. Venus (Left) and Karin (Right) 5. Mrs Hans Ekström (Left) and Mrs Roland Bjorlin (Right) 6. MASBA’s President - Mr Hans Bjornered (Standing) and Mr Hans Ekström (Seating) 7. Handeslbanken - Mr Abhinash (Left), Mr Gustavson (Middle), Mr Tommy Ivarsson (Right) 8. Astra Tech - Mr Tomas Dahl (Left), SKF-Mr Lars Berglie (Middle), Husqvarna - Mr Henrik (Right)

Nordcham Ho Chi Minh Crayfish Party


his year, 153 Nordic and Vietnamese people dressed in Crayfish apparel gathered at Swedish owned Au Lac Do Brazil restaurant in Phu My Huong on Saturday, October 2 for its famous and popular annual Crayfish Party. This truly Nordic Tradition this year had a record turnout and hosted spectacular games and Viking songs. The crayfish was directly imported and cooked based on a traditional Swedish recipe and was accompanied with Norwegian Aquavit.

6 ScandAsia.South East Asia • December 2010

Norwegian Seafood Extravaganza in Jakarta


orway exports 2,58 million tonnes of seafood annually, and some of this found its way to Jakarta on November 6th when The Indonesia Norway Business Council (INBC) and the Royal Norwegian Embassy hosted the Norwegian Seafood Extravaganza Dinner, with strong support from the Norwegian Seafood Export Council. Close to 250 attended the dinner, and Guests of Honour included the Norwegian Foreign Minister, Jonas Gahr Støre and the Indonesian Minister of Trade, Mari Pangestu. The dinner was part of a program to increase business relations between Norway and Indonesia, which included a networking event the next day and a business conference on Monday the 8 of November. After enjoying cocktails and a photos exhibition from Norway produced by Jakarta Post and Statoil, the guests entered the Timor Room through an ice-arc. The Timor Room had been draped in blue and white for the evening and decorated with ice sculptures and naval features. Ambassador Eivind S. Homme served as the master of ceremony, and successfully created a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere. Renowned Chef Tore Aspås from Ekebergrestauranten collaborated with Borobudur Executive Chef Eduard Betz and his gifted culinary team in creating an extravagant buffet of Norwegian seafood. Live cooking stations prepared such delicacies as Salmon Coulibiac, Seared Atlantic Scallops, Norwegian Mussel Ravioli, Singaporean Seafood Laksa and Seared Norwegian Fish Loaf. The buffet included Norwegian and Asian delicacies and introduced guests of all nationalities to new and tantalizing dishes.




1. Støre delivering his opening speech. 2. Ministers in deep conversation. From left; Minister Pangestu, Minister Støre and Minister Mangkusubroto. 3. Guests entering through the ice arc.

Norwegian Seafood Gala Dinner in KL


riday October 22, The Seafood Gala Dinner in Malaysia was held at the Grand Ballroom at Mandarin Hotel in Kuala Lumpur. This year the Master of Ceremony, Mrs. Bridget Pereira from the Embassy had the pleasure of welcoming a record attendance of 690 guests. The gala dinner started off with a surprising visit by an old Viking king from Norway. After a convincing performance in controlling lightning and thunder, he gave a lecture in the true history of the Vikings. Malaysia’s minister of tourism, YB Dato Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen, was the guest of honour for the night and was crowned with a Viking helmet. The gala dinner featured the best of seafood flown in from Norway prepared by Frank Naesheim and his team of chefs. The grand ballroom was filled up with all kinds of Norwegian seafood, surrounded with beautiful sculptures carved out in ice. The banquet was presented in Western, Malay, Chinese, Indian and Japanese styles. Frank explained that the philosophy behind the preparation was to keep the authenticity of the food by using clean, natural and simple flavours. Malaysia Norway Business Council (MNBC) also presented the MNBC Innovation Award. The chairman of MNBC, Øyvind Bjorkhaug, had the pleasure of announcing that this year’s winner was Wilhelmsen Maritime Services. The guest of honour handed the price over to CEO Dag Schjerven. The price for the event also included a small allocation for charity with a ticket for a charity draw, where the lucky winner was awarded a ticket to Norway by SAS. The Embassy would like thank everyone who participated at this evening for making this such a nice event!




1. Dag Schjerven winner of the MNBC Innovation Award 2. The old Viking King 3. Minister of Tourism Dato’ Sri Dr. Ng Yen Yen was amongst the dignitaries who graced the event that night along with Mr Arild Braastad the Ambassador of Norway. Photos by cumi&ciki - December 2010 • ScandAsia.South East Asia


Niels Brock Opens in Vietnam

Nguyen Thi Thanh Minh, professor and headmaster of the Foreign Trade University in Hanoi and Anya Eskildsen, Niels Brock Business School at the official signing ceremony. By Indius Pedersen, Jutland Press


iels Brock Business School and the Foreign Trade University in Hanoi, Vietnam, have together started a four-year Bachelor of Science in Finance. “We are in the tenth year in the process of education in China and now we have started in Vietnam,” says Anya Eskildsen, director of Niels Brock Business School. The forty Vietnamese students, who have now started their Danish bachelor degree, will have great opportunities in four years time when they graduate. The students will receive a Danish diploma and the proof can be used for access to training centers in Europe and the United States as the exchange system is based on ECTS - European Credit Transfer System. Nguyen Thi Thanh Minh, professor and headmaster of the Foreign Trade University in Hanoi, is

pleased with the new cooperation: “A large number of young Vietnamese students are going abroad to get a good education to the benefit of their families and ultimately to the benefit of Vietnam. It costs a lot of money for a family to send a child away,” she says. “By staying in Vietnam and have a qualifying education and access to Western universities for higher education is a great opportunity for us. By going into partnership with foreign training centers, we provide far greater opportunities to the youth staying in Vietnam and they continue to follow the Vietnamese economy at close range.”

Next comes HCMC Niels Brock Business School is also well advanced in plans to establish itself with a campus in Saigon. The school has already surveyed potential locations where the campus could be built.

8 ScandAsia.South East Asia • December 2010

“We would like to establish a campus in Saigon where we could work also with other educational institutions for instance for engineers, nurses or similar,” Anya Eskildsen reveals. “The vision is to create a Danish educational environment that is able to absorb Vietnamese mentality as a platform from which it will provide knowledge to Vietnamese students.”

Danish export potential Niels Brock’s export to China and Vietnam has been made possible because former Danish Minister of Education, Bertel Harder, could see the opportunities in the export of education. “Denmark has currently a major export potential within education. A potential that could be developed to include the public system in Denmark for service programs,” Anya Eskildsen says.

“There is also a bonus in it for us. As a part of the project we need to supply a third of the teachers to the new course in Vietnam. When these teachers return they will be more experienced which will benefit our Danish students at Niels Brock. That experience we have already achieved in China, a tiger economy through many years. And Vietnam is well on its way to achieve the same status within a decade or so.” “Vietnam is developing rapidly and is eager to provide efficient training of its youth. An education that matches that of the Western world. A recognized education also gives families a better economy. In Vietnamese families you often see that only one child is selected for a higher education, but all the other family members have to work for it – with pride. Many of them travel abroad to get an education, but now they can save this costs.”

Danida to Focus on Education


John Nielsen, the newly appointed Danish Ambassador to Vietnam, says Danida will focus on Danish cooperation within the educational sector. By Indius Pedersen, Jutland Press

Ambassador John Nielsen has used his first couple of months getting an insight into the Vietnamese community and the Vietnamese way of life. He has been pleasantly surprised and is looking forward to his four-year term as ambassador to Vietnam.

he Danish development assistance to Vietnam is being phased out and scheduled to end in 2016. Currently, the development assistance from Denmark to Vietnam is 350 million Danish kroner, but this will year by year be cut down until in 2016 all projects are phased out. During this transition period, the Royal Danish Embassy in Hanoi will prioritize its efforts in the commercial area to support Danish cooperation especially within the educational sector, says John Nielsen, the newly appointed Danish Ambassador to Vietnam. “Denmark provides the fifth largest development program to Vietnam mainly focused on agriculture, environment and climate. Within the commercial area we are well on the way into the educational sector. This is an area in which we will engage much more in order to create higher educational standards for Vietnamese,” he adds. “This is an area in which Denmark is eager to assist, and there are already several initiative,” he adds

with reference to in particular the establishment of the Niels Brock Business School in cooperation with Foreign Trade University in Hanoi City.

Danish staff in HCMC John Nielsen, who became ambassador to Vietnam 1st of September 2010, has also promised to look into the possibility of posting a Danish employee at the Danish Consulate in HCMC. This is a long term wish of the big local Danish business community. A Danish staff in HCMC would not only support the local Danish business community but also create a greater cohesion between the Embassy and the business community in South Vietnam which is most businesses and where Vietnam’s economic growth is most vibrant. “We have 125 Danish companies in Vietnam and more companies are on their way. Some of them will settle with production while others open sales offices. They do so because they assess Vietnam as a very interesting country,” says John Nielsen.

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December 2010 • ScandAsia.South East Asia


Kuala Lumpur Getting In 2011, SWEA’s World Meeting will be hosted in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Chairwoman, Maria Kjellberg Harkins, is doing everything possible to make the meeting an unforgettable experience. By Søren Lykke Bülow


rom March 16 to 20 2011, yet another World Meeting will be held in SWEA – The Swedish Women’s Educational Association. ”The preparations are going very well. We have come to a stage where the programme is done, so now we are ready for registrations,” says Maria Kjellberg Harkins, Chairwoman of SWEA Malaysia and main organiser of the World Meeting.

Asia debuts Almost 8000 Swedish og Swedish speaking women around the world are members of SWEA, and every single one of them is now invited to the biyearly event. Maria Harkins does not expect 8000 participants though. ”We expect to have around 200-300 guests at the meeting. This is the first time that a member of SWEA Asia is hosting a World Meeting, so we expect a fine number of participants from Asia, but also around half of the guests from the rest of the world,” she says. With the programme for the huge event up-and-running, the actual hard work is just about to start. Maria hopes that Malaysia will stand together and maybe receive a bit help from the nearby countries. ”Now we are engaging and involving our local SWEA members

ABOUT MARIA KJELLBERG HARKINS • Age: 40 years • Grew up around the world • Studying Hotel Management in Switzerland • Later running an antiques business and conference in Hong Kong • Member of SWEA since 2000

10 ScandAsia.South East Asia • December 2010

• Educated in Hotel Management • Senior years schooling in Sweden • Been working in Hotels • Part of a Private Philantropic Organisation in Hong Kong as Executive Officer • Chairwoman in Malaysia since January 2010

Ready for Action with hosting, preparation work and trying to convince all Asian SWEA members to come. There is a lot of administrative work, and we are at the same time having the annual general meeting of SWEA International,” says Maria, who is expecting support and a great number of visitors from places like Bangkok and Singapore, says.

Exciting preparations For Maria, it is a big thing to be main organiser of such a big event. ”I feel very proud about this. I am very happy to be engaged in the World Meeting and not just in Kuala Lumpur. It is a great way to be up close to the fantastic network SWEA is and to get together with such a big event,” she says. Maria has now prepared the focus committee that is working on the World Meeting. All 61 members in Malaysia are working on it, and all the menus are prepared. They are now arranging the entertainment side and the gala dinner. Here, they are looking for sponsorships, and they already have loads lined up. ”Our budget is somewhat limited as a volunteer organisation, but luckily many companies have chipped in to help,” Maria says.

and more optimized way of doing it,” Maria says. It is important for SWEA to get great support from their members in these cases. ”SWEA is a big work force. Around 1000 women work actively in our organisation, which makes it fun. You are working with close friends, and everyone is very supportive. The preparations for at big event like this come very easy with such supportive members. We would not have held it in Kuala Lumpur if it was not for that.”

Good for KL and Asia With SWEA Asia as the newest part of the entire SWEA, it is important for the Malaysian side to make this meeting successful. Maria feels it is great that Kuala Lumpur was selected as host city of the World Meeting. ”We got the job because we have the know-how and fiscal means to do it. It’s a great push for SWEA and the region. We know

how to arrange a nice meeting at a reasonable price,” says Maria, who also believes that it makes all the different regions more enthusiastic about future events. ”It is important that the World Meeting moves around. In this way everyone feels ownership and like being a part of the global side of SWEA.” Therefore, SWEA Malaysia has to provide all the practicalities for the World Meeting. In this way everything will be able to run smoothly for all participants. ”We provide the framework, the hotels, boardrooms, restaurants, we make name tags, lists, everything. We will give the meeting flavour, and Kuala Lumpur is perfect for this, because it is a mix of so many different cultures. It is an exciting environment for SWEA members to travel to,” says Maria.

Big hopes Success is the utmost goal for Maria in the organising for the SWEA

World Meeting. ”I see this as a professional job, and I am happy about it,” says Maria, who has a background in the hotel management business. ”I have arranged big conferences before, so it’s about making the meetings a success. The formula for having everything gathered in one point is the word ‘possibilities’. It makes it easier for the different chapters.” The World Meetings is not all about sitting inside and discussing SWEA’s world policies. Social elements also play a great part in the execution of the event. During the days of the World Meeting, different activities like golf, a Malacca tour and different museum tours will be available. And when the main event has taken place from March 16 to March 20, visitors are invited to join on a trip to either Borneo or Langkawi. ”It is very important for us to add some fun and social activities to this. Some people actually come here without joining the actual meetings. Here, people meet new friends, and the social element is definitely 50 percent of the entire thing,” Maria says.

Unique event The World Meeting in 2011 will be different from the old SWEA World Meetings. For the first time, the local yearly meetings will take place at the World Meeting. This means that this year’s meeting will be quite unique. ”It is slightly more profitable to do it all at one event. When we don’t do it like this, the president will have to travel around for different destinations, so this is a cheaper

Maria Kjellberg Harkins likes to discover and try out new things. Here, she is at a tea-tasting at the Boh Tea Plantation in Malaysia.

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I Will Give the Guesth When psychologist Arild Reed came to Phnom Penh for the second time, he talked with the staff at the hotel where he stayed. When he arrived for the third time, he bought the same people a restaurant and guesthouse. In his own name though. But as soon as the guesthouse starts earning some profit, they will get it, he says. By Bjarne Wildau


rild Reed has a plan. When the right time comes he wants to give his “Nordic House” in Phnom Penh away to his staff. No more. No less. “I still have to go back to Norway and work hard five or six months every year. But when I can retire, I plan to retire from it all. My job as a psychologist and as an owner of Nordic House. There is no way I will carry on working hard here in Phnom Penh, if I can avoid it”, the Norwegian is laughing. Actually, he is not the only one smiling or even worse, having a good laugh about Arild giving his Guesthouse away. Many people inside and outside the hospitality business in Phnom Penh think aloud about a stunt to gain goodwill and publicity. And Arild Reed rejects the negative thinking. “My son support me in handing over the guesthouse, bar, and restaurant to the staff. I am not yet sure

how it shall be done, and when”, says the Norwegian, days after he took over the place next door, adding five more room and an extra bar and restaurant to “Nordic House”. He continues: “I am investing more money every day, but when business has returned the investments, I will release my self by giving away the guesthouse”, insure Arild Reed, whom already while his was a young man in Oslo had a very special relationship to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. “During the Vietnam war in Vietnam I was involved in the political activities. Demonstrations and collecting money to the Viet Cong movement. When the war ended, I was locked up in responsibilities in Norway. I wanted to go at visit Vietnam and the other Indo China countries but I could not at that time. Later I had some very successful travels in Laos and Vietnam, but when I went to Udon Thani in Thailand five years ago to celebrate the Christmas with a Norwegian friend

and his Thai family. At that time I still hadn’t been in Cambodia”. Arild Reeds expectations to Cambodia and its capital Phnom Penh were limited. For that reason he book booked hotel for three days only. “But Phnom Penh was much nicer than I expected. Cleaner and safer. So I stay for two weeks instead of only three days”, Arild is smiling. Six months later the Norwegian spend four weeks exploring several of Cambodia’s provinces. Slow but surely the country became his second country. “I was at that visit I talked a lot with the staff at the hotel where I stayed in Phnom Penh. They weren’t happy with their working conditions. They simply wanted to have their own place. But it was only a dream, because they didn’t have the money they needed”. At that time Arild hadn’t even in his wildest dreams thought about opening a guesthouse. But back in Oslo he started to send thoughts down that line. He even talked with some friends about supporting his “new friends” getting sort of their own place. “When I returned for my third stay I Cambodia, I met the staff again, and they presented me for at plan opening or taking over a restaurant, maybe even a guesthouse. At that time in 2005 I sign the contract in my name. The same with all the licenses, they were all in my name too. And the deal with the staff was that they could take it all over later, when the place fruited some profit. Otherwise I would just sell it and forget all about it”.

In the spring of 2006 Arild and his staff opened “Nordic House”. “The first two years there was now profit. We worked with improving the quality in the restaurant and in the rooms; at after one year I had to change manager. The first one employed all her friends, and behaved towards them as a friend. It simply didn’t work. She realized it her self and just said goodbye. I did provided her a normal job, but happily she said no thanks, because it would never have worked out”. The current manager Hann Tran took over. And this is the time to underline, that the big boss and his Vietnamese Cambodian manager aren’t lovers or anything like that. At that time in our conversation a guest wants to leave the restaurant. Three tuk tuk drivers are waiting outside to grab the poor guest. But a little unusual they wait to talk to the man, until his front foot touch the sidewalk. “Yes, it’s unusual. The tuk tuk drivers can be a very tough mach for anyone. Blocking the place with their vehicles, and yelling after guests even if they just want to visit the toilet. But I took the fight from the very beginning. The drivers are only allowed to park one tuk tuk in front of Nordic House. And I don’t want any yelling or talking with my guests. We have guest or regulars here, who tell us, that that is one of the reasons why they always return to our place. They love the hassle free environment here”, Arild Reed explains. And while we are talking about fighting its time to tell that the Norwegian has his very own garbage free zone just in front of Nordic House.

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house Away “Every time I had a minute to spare I collected garbage in front of my place. In the beginning people were laughing at me. The stupid Norwegian guy who think he can erase pollution in Phnom Penh. Later people turned embarrassed. They didn’t want me to clean up the mess they made them self’s. So now we have almost no garbage at all outside our restaurant. Our guests love that too”, say Arild Reed who is now insisting on showing his new restaurant just next door. While we go towards the new extra facility he tells that the wall between the places will remain. “There will be one for smokers and at the same time we will try to keep that bar for the drinkers on their stools, while the other one will be more relaxed, no fighting about who get who’s smoke in there eyes, and so on”. When we are back I the originally Nordic House restaurant, Arild round the conversation up by making sort of a status of the development or changes guest wise in Phnom Penh. “When I came here for the first time five years ago, the typical guest was a single man fifthly plus. And you had all these bars everywhere. But now more and more couple arrives. Still in their fifthly plus, but they are bringing money and a will to give it a go. That is a very good development for Nordic House, and bad for the girly bars” says the Norwegian, who underline that he and his staff is always ready to help guest finding another room in another guesthouse or hotel, if his 12 rooms are either to simple or too expensive.

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December 2010 • ScandAsia.South East Asia


Living a Turnkey Life


Ari Weekku Sääski came to Bali to study wood carvings. When he decided to stay he turned lamp and anterior design into a business. Today he is one of the most in demand designers in the hospitality industry with several five star resort chains as his costumers. By Bjarne Wildau

e went from Helsinki in Finland to Bali more than twelve years a go to study wood carving. With him Ari Weekku Sääski, 39, brought years of experience as a light engineer working for the importer of the Danish Martins Lights. And when decided to stay for good in Bali, he switched on his old profession, almost, and started to design lamps and later complete interiors. Last their one of his projects in The Maldives won the Trip Advisors prizes of the most romantic resort in the world. The latest work by the Finnish designer is a huge five star villa in the hills of Ubud in Bali. The villa consists of more than 1.400 square meters under roof. I took care of the interior design, many of the furniture’s and all the light. More than one thousand lamps plus more than 400 peaces of furniture’s, has been designed, produced and delivered trough my company “Aura Lighting & Interior Design” Weekku explains. Quite an achievement of a Finn who came to Bali as a backpacker with very little except what he could carry in a backpack. “I arrived in Denpassar in Bali in 1998 with the purpose to study wood carving. It was absolutely wonderful. The study, the people and the international environment. You can find what ever in Bali. Every kind of nationalities, every kind of food. Yes. You just named it” says Ari Weekku Sääski. And he surely enjoyed his new life. Besides his study he found a French girlfriend and slowly but sure

he started to land on his feet according to make a stable life in Bali. “I cant recall it all but it was obvious to use my experience as a light engineer when I should choose a new carrier”, says the Finnish designer. When that decision was done and dusted inspiration was all over the place. Bali it self has lot of light traditions but at the same time the island in its position as the centre for Indonesian tourism works as a magnet for other Indonesian cultures. “I took inspiration from everywhere. Design is not an island with no trespassing”, say Ari Weekku Sääski. When he had something ready for sale he opened his own atelier in Ubud. Guest found his place and they liked what they saw enough to turn from guest to customer. Later he got his first jobs as an interior designer, taken care of villas or small places in the hospitality industry. It was at that time Ari Weekku Sääski also started to design sofas, chairs and other furniture’s. “It wasn’t a huge decision to take furniture’s in. Costumers asked me to give it a try, so that’s what I did”. And things worked well for the Finn. “My first greater project was Four Seasons resort in Jimbaran Bay here in Bali. The costumer was happy and maybe he talks about me to other people in the tourism business”, says Ari Weekku Sääski. At least Wekkus phone made notice a few months later. The Swedish owners of a resort in The Maldives had heard about him and they wanted Ari Weekku Sääski to find an airplane as fast as possible

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in Bali I take inspiration from everywhere. Design is not an island with no trespassing

and come to the Maldives. The payment for his trip was not an issue; the Swedes would take care of that. “They has a huge resort and wanted me to take care of the planned renovation”, the Finn explains. Off the autodidact designer and entrepreneur went. With inn days the biggest job until then was in Wekkus bag. A little about the design industry in Bali and especially in Ubud where most of Indonesians painters and designers actually lives. Just along a single road you can find 20 kilometres packed with shops and workshops doing and selling whatever to whatever from simple home or seven star resorts. At the top of that a turnkey designer as Ari Weekku Sääski has a network of small and huge costumers but also of suppliers who design at their base in Bali but maybe hire workshops at other islands in Indonesia. “It’s a lush environment here in Bali for design and turnkey interior design. Hardly anywhere else can you find range of materials, craftsmanship and supplies” Ari Weekku Sääski says. Back to the Maldives and the Komandoo Maldives Island Resort – Komandoo. The job went well as

the world’s most romantic resort suggest. So the phone kept ringing, the jobs came by from all over the region to an extremely creative Finnish designer. And as things developed Ari Weekku Sääski realized that one thing is to be successful in creativity. Its something completely different to run a business. “I am a designer. I am creative.

The huge challenges for me are the business side to it all” admits the owner of “Aura Lighting & Interior Design”. And with the success the designer is claiming in the region, it can only a matter of time before professional help to the administration is hired. When all the talk about the turnkey designs are over, Ari Weekku Sääski takes up an other issue

namely a gallery Two Rivers he is running with a friend. “We are producing huge photo placards with motives from Bali and other parts of Indonesia. Often that niece of art is quite expensive, but we have decided to provided high quality product to an affordable prices, and the tourist are happy for what we are doing” Ari Weekku Sääski says. In the private life there have been changes too. After a relationship in Bali with a western girl or two, Ari Weekku Sääski met his Balinese wife Dewa in 2007 and they got married a year later. Together they have a 13 months old girl Maya Leena. “Ubud and Bali is a very nice place to be also in the private life. I have been very lucky with my wife and her family. We are here to stay. Next year we start building our own house on my family in laws land. I am sure that will be quite fantastic”, says Ari Weekku Sääski.

Looking into the World


hen trying to comprehend the essence of the Amanresort brand, who could be more appropriate as our concierge than Liv Gussing who has been with the company since 1996? And where could be a more fitting place than the lovely wonder world of Amandari, the company’s second property and the first upscale luxury resort in Ubud on the island of Bali? Amandari - where this General Manager of Swedish-Indian origin talks to ScandAsia - celebrated its 20th anniversary last year and is an apt reflection of the company’s central tenets: discretion, high level of service, luxury, beautiful natural surroundings, warm and elegant hospitality.

200 staff to 30 rooms On a small typical Aman property like this the staff exceeds the number of guests multiple times. “One of the unique things about Aman is the very high staff-to-guest ratio,” Liv Gussing explains. “We have a lot of staff - 200 staff on 30 rooms - looking after our guests, so there are lots of people around. And we’ve been able to create a wonderful sense of com-

When Amanpuri opened on Phuket in 1988, tourism to the island was just a trickle and the new Aman brand was unknown. Today, twenty plus years later, while mass tourism has come to the island, this elite property is still its most luxurious, part of a worldrenowned portfolio of resorts worldwide. Amanpuri continues to be a draw for the rich and famous, including royalty, from far and near. The unique vision of Amanresorts, a pioneering boutique luxury resort company, introduced many firsts to the industry and has continued to expand, inspiring scores of others who look to the brand for inspiration. By Joakim Persson

16 ScandAsia.South East Asia • December 2010

d of Aman Resorts munity because seventy per cent of them live within one kilometre of the resort.” Some in the hospitality industry will certainly envy being able to keep staff for 15+ years, but such is the case when the resort bears the Aman brand and is situated in the middle of such a strong local culture like the one in Ubud.

Like having friends visiting “Basically our job is guest focused; it’s really like having guests and friends coming to visit you,” Liv continues. “We spend a lot of time with our guests who also want to know my opinion on what they can do, where they can go. Part of my role is to have an in-depth knowledge of what is special so I can recommend unique places, unusual shops, special ceremonies and activities to guests depending and what their interests are.” “Typically our resorts are between 30 and 40 rooms and they’re quite simple in design. Adrian Zecha [the founder] wanted to create a place where you could completely get away from the stress and the business of any busy city, find absolute peace, and no clutter, so to speak. So the resorts are designed with that in mind, with both interiors and exteriors being very calming.”

Aman properties are places for guests who are really inspired by lifestyle and adventure and eager to explore exciting destinations or simply relax. The company has recently even developed resorts in urban settings – of course on unique locations such as adjacent to the Summer Palace in Beijing. “Amanresorts is a portfolio of very different properties.” “Mr. Zecha has certainly had an impact both on how resorts are designed and the type of experiences that guests can have. The company was really one of the first to offer relaxed settings within the context of the luxury leisure hospitality experience. I think that has had a big impact on the industry.” Reflective of the place they’re located each property is different and unique to its location, explains Liv who also has had the privilege of being part of the footprint teams that oversaw the creation and opening of several Aman resorts.

Creating the brand “One aspect which I have enjoyed tremendously which was true then and as well as now is how each of us would play a big part in creating the brand. Each opening we do is very different. We try to find local experiences, give a taste of the place we’re in and bring nature into our resorts. All the amenities, furnishings and accessories are designed for that particular resort.” She has been with the company for the last fourteen years and was part of openings on Java, in Wyoming as well as in Marrakech, Morocco. “One of my favourite roles during an opening was to explore potential guest excursions with a local guide to help create something that is quite unique to Amanresorts.” Taking a step further back, Liv actually first came to Thailand and worked with the Dusit brand, having been keen on working in Asia because of its legendary reputation of hospitality service. So she came over here, at 23, after hotel studies in the U.S and working at St. Regis in New York as a butler. Liv began her career with Amanresorts by assisting with three property openings and spending three years at Amanpuri, the company’s flagship. “It is a very well-known resort.

The design is absolutely stunning; with architecture that mirrors traditional Thai style.” While certain elements and themes can be found in all properties, the overarching style of the aesthetic is simple, elegant and clean. At Amandari, the resort is architecturally quite unique in that it takes several aspects of traditional Balinese design and incorporates them into a new and luxurious construct.

Bali up close “We really want guests to experience daily life in Bali. That’s the experience we’re offering. So even while you are in the resort, you’ve got the villagers coming through and various excursions beyond the property. For example, we offer a cooking class where we take guests to the market followed by a cooking lesson in a Balinese home. If there’s a ceremony in a village of one of the staff, we tell guests and can take them there to have a more intimate experience of what really happens on the island.” Amanresorts has developed many loyal guests, affectionally known as Aman Junkies. “We do have a lot of regular guests. A number of guests do go back and visit the same place every year and then also explore our new properties.” “What has amazed me over the years is the incredible guest mix, actually. There are obviously some older guests who have the means to visit. But we also get honeymooners, such as a couple who checked out recently who were 23 years old. We have also seen a change reflecting the economy where we had the IT boom which brought successful young people with disposable income. So we have the whole range.”

The culture is alive In selling Bali to newcomers, Liv points out the “magical thing” that the island’s culture and traditions are still alive. “Very few places in the world that receive so many visitors are also able to maintain a rich and deep local culture. Tourism started coming to Bali in the 1930’s and I think it is still fabulous that you can come here and see ceremonies, offerings, agriculture with its traditional ter-

raced rice fields and more.” “Another thing that I think is fabulous with Bali is that it offers so many different experiences; you can relax on the beach, climb a mountain, visit a painter, go for a trek in the rice fields or do rafting etc. It offers an incredible range and the nice thing is that you can drive from the beach to the mountains. Many places you have to go by plane to get both experiences.” “People are so friendly,” she adds. “They’re lovely, very welcoming and open. The Balinese I find have been tolerant towards all people that come here over periods of time.”


Jansson’s Temptation Jansson's Temptation or Janssons Frestelse as it is known in Sweden probably owes its name to being such a creamy and delicious, perfect winter comfort food! Simple, but flavoursome, you can have it on its own or with a fresh salad. The anchovies give this dish a beautiful salty twist although I personally prefer to leave out this ingredient! There are many versions of this traditional winter dish, but here's one recipe


Place the rest of the potatoes on top and season with black pepper. Pour over the cream and cook in 200C oven for about 30 minutes or until the potatoes are fully tender and the top has browned. You can enjoy the creamy goodness on its own or with a fresh salad.

Are you done?


hen you have completed the above puzzles, please send your solution by fax to +66 2 943 7169 or scan and email to We will make a lucky draw among the correct answers. Five lucky winners will receive a high quality ScandAsia polo shirt. Deadline for submit your solution is 15 February 2011 Name:


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18 ScandAsia.South East Asia • December 2010

photos), and place a layer of potatoes on the bottom. Add the cooked onions and place the anchovies on top.

Jansson's Temptation 4-5 medium sized potatoes, peeled and cut thinly 2 medium sized onions, thinly sliced 2 tbs butter 80g jar of anchovies in oil, drained, but keep the oil 300ml double cream (umm yes, this is why it's so creamy) ground black pepper Melt the butter and some of the anchovies oil in a frying pan, add onions and cook until soft, but not brown (about 15 minutes). Grease an oven proof dish (perhaps use a more shallow dish than seen on my

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ScandAsia Southeast Asia - December 2010  

Magazine for residents from Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland living in South East Asia - excl. Thailand and Singapore.

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