The Yum List discovers how Gillian Feast first got into the industry, some stories behind the scenes and some exciting things coming up for guests at Cove 55 in the months ahead.
What do you do and how did you get into the industry?
I am the general manager of Sarawak’s newest luxury boutique retreat Cove 55.
I have been in the hospitality industry since the young age of 18, which is when I discovered my passion for travel and hotels in particular, after spending all my young years travelling around the world with my family for my father’s work commitments.
What’s the best/ worst part of your job?
The best part of my job is being able to create memorable experiences for my guests, whether they be on an annual vacation, a short break for R&R or celebrating their wedding day, seeing them truly satisfied by the hospitality we provide gives me a real sense of pleasure.
The worst part of my job is often long and unsociable hours, which provides very little time for relaxation or time spent with family and friends. However working at a small boutique resort in Cove 55 our team is like one big family, we enjoy working together and often build close bonds and friendships which will last a lifetime.
What’s your favourite thing to do at Cove 55?
My favourite thing to do at Cove 55 is to teach my team (or anyone who wants to listen) about food and wine. Not only am I truly passionate about food and wine but also about training/teaching people so being able to impart my wealth of knowledge and experience on my team makes every day worthwhile.
Share with us a memorable moment from behind the scenes?
As we are often an integral part of our guests’ experiences, there are truly too many memorable moments to pinpoint just one.
I have been lucky enough to plan and run throughout my career almost 200 weddings, and to this day, I still cry at every single wedding ceremony. Seeing the little moments and intimacies between a couple with their nearest and dearest on their special day is an opportunity I am so lucky to witness.
The perfect day off would be…
Complete relaxation and pampering from morning to night; in a lovely spa with luxurious treatments, great food and a few glasses of wine. No tedious chores, please!
A day in the life of gm is…
In one word VARIED.
I have been a general manager now for just over two years and I still feel like I learn something new every day. Every day is completely different from the one before. Our guests and their wishes dictate each of our working days thus no two days are ever the same.
What do you do for fun?
I discovered my passion for scuba diving around eight years ago and since the very first time I took my first breath underwater, it’s the activity I would choose over anything else.
I can say underwater is the only place I truly can switch off, stop thinking and just enjoy the silence and serenity of the beautiful underwater world.
What’s something you’d like guests to know about Cove 55?
The question we most often get asked is what the name of our restaurant ‘Kechala’ means.
In short ‘Kechala’ is the Iban name for torch ginger. Torch ginger is an edible ginger flower, which grows in abundance around our resort and our team of chefs and mixologist use this unique, spicy, flavoursome flower in many of our dishes and cocktails.
Our owners are of Iban heritage and are very proud of their culture, so their wish is for our guests to immerse themselves in their heritage wherever possible.
What’s your favourite food and beverage pairing?
The easiest question so far… steak and a delicious Chateau Neuf du Pape.
What’s your view on the hospitality industry in Sarawak?
I am truly honoured to be a part of the evolving hospitality industry in Sarawak, and in my two years living in Kuching, I have fallen in love with this beautiful state on the island of Borneo. I feel that Sarawak has so much to offer; the abundance of wildlife, the unique flora and fauna and the unspoilt environment should make it top of any traveller’s ‘bucket list’.
This year as general manager of Sarawak’s newest luxury boutique resort, it has been a pleasure to be involved in and witness the Sarawak Tourism Boards’ ‘Visit Sarawak’ campaign, which is focusing on educating key partners all over the world about what Sarawak has to offer.
What’s in store for you in the upcoming months?
Wow… where to start?! There is so much in store for Cove 55 in the coming months.
We will be ending 2019 with the grand opening of our much-anticipated event hall and over water pavilion, set in a lush mangrove environment offering unobstructed views of the South China Sea, we are so excited to welcome our first corporate and leisure guests to our newest venue.
2020 will start with the introduction of our spa and gym and the end of 2020 will witness the opening of 14 luxurious villas, all designed around the natural mangrove and ocean environment, built on stilted platforms over the water to best take advantage of our unique location.
Read more about Cove 55 here, check out the menu at Kechala restaurant here and find some fantastic craft cocktail creations here.
Find more interviews, such as this one with Gillian Feast, here.