BUSINESSCLASS CLASS BUSINESS M
Everywhere you want to be
SUNNY SIDE UP
Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa General Manager RENÉ D. EGLE tells us what it’s like in his slice of paradise I lived in London in the early 1990s and I never wanted to leave. I thought it was the best city in the world with its amazing cultural diversity, art scene, restaurants, theaters, and museums.
HAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST MEMORABLE TRIP SO FAR? It was in 2004 from Jakarta to Beijing with Singapore Airlines, and then from Beijing to Berlin – 11,800 kilometers on a beautiful classic motorbike, a replica of a BMWR75 from 1936 – and then from Berlin back to Jakarta with Lufthansa. The hotels and services I experienced on that trip left me with unforgettable memories – not all of them good, though.
TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR EPIC ROADTRIP. I fell asleep on the bike on one endlessly long road in Siberia and ended up in the ditch. Initially, we’d planned to spend only a maximum of eight hours each day on the bike, but as time wore on, we started to fall behind schedule due to technical issues and breakdowns, and to extremely bad road conditions in parts of Siberia. So we ended up staying on the bike from sunrise to sundown, which was an average of over 18 hours on the bike just to catch up. I started falling asleep when the road changed from super bad to very good, and at that moment it was like driving on clouds. And the rest is history.
ANY PARTICULARLY WONDERFUL MEMORIES? One night we got caught in a massive rainstorm somewhere in Siberia. Our initial plan was to sleep in tents, but there were heavy mosquito and horse fly plagues after winter and we would have been eaten alive. So every 500 kilometers or so, we’d find a small village where we would ask if we could use someone’s barn or shed. One late night it was raining heavily so we were soaked upon reaching a small village. We knocked on the door of the first house and an 80-year-old man opened it. What followed next was nothing short of amazing. He mobilized the entire village – a very rough looking crowd, which raised some concerns amongst us initially – and they offered us their version of the town hall to sleep in. Then they all arrived with bread, sausages, and plenty of vodka. We dined and drank with them. The next day, we wanted to pay for food and accommodations but they did not accept money. Instead, they offered us a gift – an old Soviet flag. They were unbelievably friendly and helpful.
A DAY OF BLISS at Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa Breakfast on the balcony of your room A morning spent on the beach basking in the sun A light lunch in the Breeze Bar on the beach Afternoon nap on the beach 2.5 hour CHI Spa treatment in the afternoon Dinner in Cowrie Cove by the sea, followed by drinks in Waves Bar by the sea
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BUSINESS CLASS YOUR FAVORITE DESTINATIONS? I lived in London in the early 1990s and I never wanted to leave. I thought it was the best city in the world with its amazing cultural diversity, art scene, restaurants, theaters, and museums. Then I moved to Beijing and was blown away by the completely different culture and people, with so much interesting history, both recent and ancient. I wanted to try everything it had to offer so we explored the Beijing countryside by bike and enjoyed some extraordinary encounters with locals. I fell in love with the food – the variety, the tastes, the sometimes wild, exotic and, well, not quite “dead” dishes. I just wanted to taste them all. When I moved to Hong Kong, I just loved the city – even without the history of Beijing and the diverse and artsy flair of London. Until now, it’s definitely still one of my favorites. This was followed by Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Dubai, Maldives, Mauritius, and now Mactan. All of these places have unique features that you won’t find in any of the other destinations. But there is one destination that I have only started to appreciate for its cultural heritage and natural beauty, and this is my home: the Schwarzwald or, in English, the “Black Forest.” My hometown of Löffingen is truly beautiful. It’s in a little known part of Germany and it’s really an insider destination.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN THE HOTEL INDUSTRY? My dream was actually to become a window maker in our family business. But during a visit to one of the leading hotels in Titisee, a beautiful mountain lake destination in the scenic upper Black Forest, the Treschers Schwarzwald Hotel magically seduced me from one moment to the other. I was only 17 years old but the luxurious and elegant surroundings and the well-groomed employees left a lasting impression. I developed a deep passion for fine dining and the world of Michelin-star restaurants and fine wines. Then during my mandatory military service in the German navy, I got hooked on traveling the world. After I left the navy, I worked in a well-known Michelin-starred restaurant in Freiburg, the famous ZirbelStube at the Colombi Hotel.
ASIDE FROM SHANGRI-LA’S MACTAN RESORT AND SPA, WHERE’S THE BEST RESORT YOU’VE EVER STAYED AT? Without being biased because I have managed that resort for three years, I would say Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort & Spa in the Maldives. This is a truly beautiful and unique all-villa resort. n
WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES YOU FACE AS GENERAL MANAGER? Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa is one of the first-generation resorts in Cebu, and it has established itself as among the leading properties in the region. There are a number of new properties opening in Mactan and the location is becoming more competitive. This is an opportunity, and not so much as a challenge, because the addition of properties makes the destination far more attractive. For us not to get complacent, we analyze competitor destinations such as Bali and Phuket and the key fivestar resorts in those regions. After analyzing our findings in detail, both local and international, we discovered tremendous opportunities for us to reinvent ourselves by introducing innovative and trendsetting features.
WHERE DO YOU GET NEW IDEAS FOR THE RESORT? You can find great inspirations and ideas from anywhere. I get inspirations from museums, art exhibitions, workshops, travel, airlines and even history books. Even from a visit to the botanical gardens in Singapore which, for me, are always great examples for what landscaping in resorts should look like. In Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa, our soon to be launched ECO and Historical Trails were inspired by botanical garden concepts and a passion for history. The more experience and exposure you have working in different types of hotels and countries, the more ideas and inspirations you are able to introduce in a new hotel. WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERISTICS OF A GREAT RESORT? Besides well-kept hardware and extraordinary people, we create experiences that focus on the usual resort activities as well as activities involving the local culture, community and products to create authentic experiences that are unique and memorable, and that convey a sense of place.
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