Taufik Razak, resort manager at Embun Luxury Villas, shares a little about his journey in the hospitality industry and the fabulous property he is currently managing.
What do you do and how did you get into the industry?
I am the resort manager at Embun Luxury Villas, Janda Baik. I was trained as a chef and have worked in kitchens both locally and in London for the past 14 years. Since returning home four years ago, I have worked with a company managing their FNB department (two cafes, event space and school lunches for two international schools). I also started a food delivery service and consulted on FNB for new openings. Earlier this year, an opportunity came my way to put into practice my qualifications and experience in the industry with Embun. Seeing the potential of this place that was unlike any near KL, it was very hard not to get excited about bringing in my expertise.
What’s the best part of your job?
The best part of the job is always the customer’s satisfaction. Being in the hospitality industry is all about going up and beyond to make your customer feel like a million bucks and their needs and wants are met. Once you reach that stage with a customer, all the sweat and tears are paid off.
What’s your favourite meal at Embun?
We do an awesome watermelon, mint and feta salad which is a real refreshing treat on a hot sunny day. It’s best eaten by the pool with a gorgeous view of the jungle and washed down with our lemongrass and pandan cooler.
Share with us a memorable moment from your years in the hospitality industry?
A few years back, I won Employee of the Year while working at a 5-star hotel in London. The prize was 3 nights 4 days stay in New York City for two including flights, accommodation in a 4-star hotel by Times Square and £500 pocket money. That was a pretty sweet moment.
The perfect day off would be…
A sleep-in till about 10 am. Breakfast and a newspaper till noon. The rest of the day will be me catching up with loved ones over awesome food that I didn’t prepare. I have a golden rule of not stepping into a kitchen on an off day.
A day in the life of a resort manager is…
… never a dull day. From guests interactions to troubleshooting problems and everything in between. It certainly keeps one moving constantly and the FitBit definitely approves. What I enjoy most is training and empowering our local talent of employees to perform well in the hospitality trade.
What do you do for fun?
Running or swimming has always been my go-to when trying to shut off for a while. And, yes, I do find it fun.
What’s something you’d like guests to know about Embun?
Though Embun is an easy drive from KL city (less than an hour), our location, the views and resort design will really make you feel like you’re hundreds of miles away. We’re also really spacious and a lot of people don’t realise that until they see it for themselves. Guests are usually surprised at how much space there is so we’re really ideal for couples as well as larger groups. And although Embun itself encourages pure relaxation (you’ll feel it the moment you arrive), there’s still plenty of activities to do nearby; river rafting, fishing, and horse-riding are literally five-minutes drive away.
What’s your favourite food and beverage pairing?
Slightly burnt toast with French salted butter and black coffee.
What’s your view on the hospitality industry in Malaysia?
The exciting part is Malaysia is opening its doors to highly acclaimed chefs opening new restaurants, and 5-star hotel chains are launching new vibrant hotels. This does give more international coverage for Malaysia as a destination to visit, and the locals have more great choices to feed their discerning taste locally, and not spend money abroad.
There is also currently a move to more personal, boutique hotel experiences that Malaysians are looking for, away from cookie cutter hotel rooms. Also, with halal travel on the rise, Malaysia continues to be a destination of choice, being able to meet the needs in this segment of the market. This is where you see opportunities for small boutique resorts like Embun, which caters to travellers looking for a more personalised experience and who value privacy.
The not so exciting part is the fact that working in the hospitality industry is still somewhat underrated and unregulated in Malaysia. For instance, the rate of pay for a newcomer starting up in the industry can be really low, and with the long hours the job entails, it is understandably scaring off the newer generation. I wish to see the ever so many hospitality associations and the government working towards making the industry more welcoming to the next generation.
What’s in store for you in the upcoming months?
Putting Embun on the map!