I’m enjoying a few quiet moments in The Strand Café before meeting the man at the helm, Mr. Olivier Trinquand, Vice President The Strand Hotel and Cruise, who has agreed to share his thoughts and ideas about this century-old landmark.
The Café is an oasis of calm, an escape from the Tropical heat and bustle of Yangon, and I am reminded of the history associated with this ‘Grand Dame’ of Yangon, which has played host to many famous authors, playwrights and raconteurs since its doors opened all those years ago, and continues to amaze and excite all those that enter its imposing marble and teak-paneled entrance, welcomed by a hotel bellman wearing his traditional Myanmar uniform.
The purpose of my meeting with Mr. Trinquand is to learn about the essence of The Strand, its people and exactly what it is that their guests continue to return for, and this is all explained to me whilst the brigade of waiters elegantly pour our coffee from antique silver coffee pots, attentive to our needs but never overbearing.
Q: How do you exceed guest’s expectations in such a luxurious and renowned place?
A: Every guest that enjoys a stay at The Strand knows that they have entered a world where their every need is taken care of; their particular preferences in the Suite, a warm welcome and attention to detail to the finest details throughout the property, safe in the knowledge that their demands and expectations will be met with ease and comfort, whatever the occasion.
Our dedication to continue the tradition of providing the very best for our guests is summed up in a few simple terms-
Understated luxury - the sense of comfort and well-being are achieved through the finer details in everything we do, providing excellence through actions and a personal touch, rather than material ‘bling’.
A safe environment - those guests staying with us are assured of an environment that takes into account their wellbeing and security, mindful that The Strand has always been regarded as a safe haven for all those that enter.
Simplicity - we welcome our guests as if they are old friends returning, which they very often are, creating a fine balance between personal attention and discretion, always on hand should they require that little something more. A warm welcome and a seamless check-in adds to creating that homely feel, paired with our trained butlers welcoming the guest on a first name basis wherever appropriate and impeccable suites.
Repeatable - just as every guest is treated with the same level of service and comfort, we strive to remain consistent and focused on whatever we do, always reminding ourselves that it is the value of the guest experience that keeps them coming back, together with continued excellence and a desire to maintain the very highest levels of guest satisfaction.
This is our “exceeding the client’s expectations” in some ways because anybody walking through our door will be “un invite de marque “.
Q. How do you apply this philosophy of service and simplicity with your staff?
A. Our Strand team are wonderful ambassadors for the warmth and kindness of Myanmar, and together with ongoing training and a sense of commitment to these basic principles, we continue to embrace and nurture all that we have achieved. Whilst every guest is treated equally, understanding the role of our service team and the part they play remains essential for our success, whether it is a simple greeting, a warm smile or a listening ear when it might be needed, it is the level of interaction with their guests that define us for what we are.
Q. What do you think is going to be The Strand’s future with the path Myanmar is taking and its opening to other countries and influx of tourists?
A. Myanmar’s future is bright, definitely, but it is going to take time, although there is a strong desire to gain new skills and experience, and we have implemented a variety of in-house training programmes to meet these challenges. There is an increase in the number of hotels within Myanmar, and we foresee a drop in the prices for some hotel accommodation. But we are positive Myanmar will meet any challenges with the current influx of tourists to the country. Any increase in the number of tourists visiting Myanmar is welcome, and there is certainly a much wider audience of travellers wanting to experience what is on offer here, and I believe the service industry as a whole can look forward to a very rosy future.
Q. Are you concerned customers might switch from The Strand to less luxurious properties, cheaper ones?
A. As the Myanmar tourism and hotel industry evolves, we can expect a variety of challenges within the hospitality industry here, something we welcome and even look forward to, confident that we will sustain our position as a leading hotel in Yangon, just as we have done for the past century.
We will soon be unveiling our new project, with the completion of our swimming pool, gym and therapy rooms, together with landscaped gardens, which will be an added bonus for those choosing to stay with us. This, together with our commitment to service and attention to detail - to provide only the very best to our guests - will stand us in good stead, just as we have done since 1901.