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The Story of Raffles People

June 27, 2013 Corporate No Comments Email Email

“At Raffles we believe that true luxury is not just about what you do, it’s about how you make your guests feel.  So every staff member goes out of their way to give the warmest welcome, the most comfortable stay, the richest experiences and the fondest memories. 

I believe this engagement, on a different level, is what really brings guests back to our hotels time and again.  We call this emotional luxury. ”

So says Peter French, President, Raffles Hotels & Resorts. Here are just a few of those Raffles people.

Princess Sita Norodom, Raffles Hotel le Royal, Phnom Penh

Much like its name, Raffles Hotel Le Royal, Phnom Penh has royalty among its ranks: Princess Sita Norodom, has been a Sales Manager at the hotel for ten years. Princess Sita deftly handles Embassies and corporate accounts in her day job, while outside of the hotel, she is often found in attendance at religious ceremonies inside the Palace with the rest of her family. Though her colleagues at Raffles address her using Royal language, Princess Sita likes to keep a low profile, and is humble about her royal connections – she is always touched at the respect and love for the Royal family which her colleagues demonstrate.

Princess Sita is thrilled that her city is emerging as a capital of cool, bustling with charm and renewed energy all of its own. Her recommendations to her guests? Water Lily ( for quirky accessories on Street 240;  Eric Raisina ( for heavenly, colourful silks on Sihanouk Blvd; and Chef Steve van Remoortel’s drippingly gorgeous Restaurant Le Royal at Raffles, for contemporary French haute cuisine and traditional Khmer dishes based on recipes from the Royal Palace kitchens, gifted to the hotel by King Father Norodom Sihanouk.


Mr Mouth Saravann, Resident Historian, Raffles Grand Hotel D’Angkor, Siem Reap

Mouth Saravann is Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor’s resident historian, sharing the ever-changing history of Siem Reap’s first luxury hotel, which opened in 1932.

His job has not been easy – Saravann has had great difficulty piecing together the precise history of the hotel, as no concise archives survived the many years of conflict in Cambodia. Since the hotel reopened in 1997 after major restorations by Raffles Hotels & Resorts, Saravann has worked with the National Archives, the National Museum, the Ecole Française de Siem Reap and independent historians to gather as much information as possible.  He has even gleaned snippets of history from old postcards in collections from around the world: the hotel is a true part of Cambodia’s story.

Overlooking the Royal gardens and opposite the Royal Palace, with doormen’s uniforms inspired by Palace uniforms and delicious Royal Khmer food using original recipes from the Royal Household, Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor oozes history and charm.  This heritage is nurtured and kept safe by Saravann, so that guests can continue to enjoy cocktails in the Elephant Bar and remember the golden age of travel as they glide through Raffles’ elegant colonial corridors.  

Marie De Jacquelot, Art Bookstore Manager at Le Royal Monceau, Raffles Paris

They say that to understand a city, a person should look at its artists.  This philosophy is alive and well at Le Royal Monceau, Raffles Paris, an exquisite hotel described by TATLER magazine as “a heartbreaking work of staggering genius….”

Le Royal Monceau, Raffles Paris is infused with art – from the art on the walls, to works on display in its gallery, Art District, to the specialist bookstore, La Librarie des Arts, which currently houses more than 1,000 beautiful limited edition books.   Here, Marie de Jacquelot holds the enviable job of Art Bookstore Manager, charged with ensuring that La Librarie des Arts remains a creative resource for guests and Parisians alike.  Marie has been a publisher of art, architecture and design books since 2003.  With an impeccable CV that includes a degree in Modern Literature from the Sorbonne and further studies of History of Art in the United States, Marie is back home in Paris to share her passion for art, books and publishing.

Marie’s mission at Le Royal Monceau, Raffles Paris is to offer access to contemporary art through books, monographs and spin-offs… with the mantra ‘You are what you read’, and perfectly complementing the work of Domoina de Brantes, specialist Art Concierge at the

The Zamazmeh at Raffles Makkah Palace

Instantly recognisable in their traditional Makkah turbans and ankle-length robes, the Zamazmeh (za-maz-mah) are the essence of Raffles Makkah Palace’s hospitality.  During Ramadan, The Zamazmeh take on the extremely important role of pouring Zamzam water from large clay containers for guests breaking their fast each day. The Zamazmeh at Raffles Makkah Palace have served a wide array of distinguished guests, dignitaries, ambassadors and even Heads of States, always with poise and grace. According to Islamic history, Zamzam water was miraculously revealed to Hager, wife of Abraham, who was looking for water in the barren Makkah desert for her son. The water is also said to have healing qualities, and is a key part of the Ramadan tradition.

Randolph Velasco at Raffles Singapore

Randolph Velasco is Raffles Singapore’s resident mixologist.  His latest project is a new Raffles World Collection of Cocktails, with eight new creations inspired by local flavours from destinations where a Raffles hotel is present.

This intriguing collection of global concoctions is also a taster of Raffles hotels to come:  Raffles China pays homage not only to Raffles Beijing Hotel, an iconic grand dame from the early 20th century, but also to her new sister, Raffles Hainan, opening shortly on Hainan Island – a cocktail with a bold combination of Black Label and Hua Diao Jiu, Chinese rice wine.   Raffles China is also a tribute to the creator of the legendary Singapore Sling, who was born and raised in Hainan – Mr Ngiam Tong Boon.    Raffles Istanbul is a preview of Raffles Istanbul Zorlu Center, opening in late 2013: a layered cocktail of Kahlua, Pisco and lime juice, with a lasting, alluring finish … the perfect embodiment of the romance of Istanbul.    Raffles Indonesia heralds the opening of Raffles Jakarta in 2014 – with warm notes of Bacardi, balanced with buttery coconut cream and refreshing lime juice  – making this a complex yet easy-to-enjoy drink, just like the exciting city it represents.

The other cocktails in Randolf’s inspired collection are:  Raffles Cambodia (for Raffles Hotel Le Royal, Phnom Penh and Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor, Siem Reap), Raffles Philippines (Raffles Makati, see below); Raffles France (Le Royal Monceau, Raffles Paris); the non-alcoholic Raffles United Arab Emirates (for Raffles Dubai), and Raffles Seychelles (Raffles Praslin Seychelles):  each one masterfully infused with influences from locations around the world where a Raffles hotel stands.

Lilian Ogutu, Raffles Butler at Raffles Dubai

Following the example of the legendary butlers at Raffles Hotel, Singapore, Lilian Ogutu is a much-loved touch-point for regular guests at Raffles Dubai.  She has worked at the hotel since before it opened and knows her guests and their needs better than anyone.   It’s no surprise that many of them dial ahead to request Lilian’s assistance – secretly they would love to take her home with them.  Lilian brings a true sense of style to Dubai, with a degree in Fashion Design, merging her creativity with expert hospitality – from recommending the latest boutiques for a spot of shopping, and even to communicating in sign language when needs be. Lilian’s top tip for guests – and fellow fashionistas – is a personal ‘StyleMeDivine’ shopping experience ( Guests will be whisked from having a favourite fashion piece perfectly recreated in Satwa, to discovering the latest boutiques in the Dubai Marina and beyond.


Chef Lu Bijun, Executive Chinese Chef at Raffles Beijing Hotel

No visitor to Beijing should miss trying the iconic Peking Duck – and thanks to Chef Lu Bijun, there is no better place to experience this delicacy than at Raffles Beijing Hotel.  Lu Bijun is Executive Chef of the Chinese Kitchen here and he is a master at cooking this famous duck dish, synonymous with Beijing, which has been prepared since the imperial era and is now considered a national dish of China.

Young and creative, Lu Bijun has a simple philosophy in his role, based on delivering the best possible dishes to his guests using well selected seasonal ingredients. Originally from a rural farming family in Hunan province, Lu Bijun has risen quickly through the ranks, having learned from the master Chef of his home town. His cooking style is traditional, fuelled by a natural sense for good food, and developed by a strong desire to learn from all elements of life – from his masters, colleagues and connections within the industry. The hotel is known particularly for its Peking Duck – the signature dish of the city – where the Peking Duck Master Chef serves the most succulent duck in Beijing under Lu Bijun’s expert guidance.


Himanshu Paliwal, Director of Spa at Raffles Hainan, China

Himanshu Paliwal is the Director of Spa at Raffles Hainan, leading the way for the first Raffles Spa in China.  Born in India, Himanshu is a yoga specialist, having been a yogi for 10 years and continuing to practice daily. As Raffles Hainan readies itself to welcome guests, Himanshu has been able to seek out the resort’s best spots for outdoor yoga – he’s decided these are Raffles Hainan’s lawn, facing the glittering ocean, and the peace of the Hainanese and Balinese gardens. Practicing yoga outdoors here is sublime, combined with the lush views and exceptionally excellent air quality on the island.

Raffles Hainan is Raffles Hotels & Resorts’ second property in China, set at Clearwater Bay – the new hotspot on the southeast coast of Hainan Island, China’s answer to the French Riviera. With scenic views, pristine beaches and tropical weather all year long, the resort is perfect for continuing the Raffles Spa story. For a picture-perfect view of the island, Himanshu recommends taking the cableway at Nanshan Monkey Island nature reserve, 15 minutes away from Raffles Hainan.  

Benard Lucas, Recreation and Kid’s Club at Raffles Praslin Seychelles

A day in Bernard’s life at Raffles Praslin Seychelles is all about fun and spontaneity. Families request Bernard’s presence to share his insider knowledge of the island, while couples call upon his recommendations for the most romantic spots to steal away to and watch the sun set over the archipelago.

From planning family cycling trips to La Digue to masterminding private boat trips for two, Bernard lets guests into his island secrets….his favourite spot on Praslin is the beautiful, hidden away beach, Anse La Blague – known by the local villagers and accessed by a lush, unmarked trail.   At the top of the hill overlooking the beach there is a heart-stopping view over neighbouring islands, la Digue, Felicité, Grand Soeur and Petite Soeur – and even as as far as Mahé, when the weather is clear.   And of course, white sand, turquoise waters and blue sky are the order of the day.

Bernard has magical knack of being able to feel what his guests need, before they have even thought of it.  He gives every guest an insider’s take on this dreamy island that he is lucky enough to call home.

Von Mabazza, Mixologist at Raffles Makati, Philippines

Raffles’ Long Bar has travelled to Manila, opening in Raffles Makati.  True to its Singapore original, with tropical punka fans, black and white floor tiles and a 14 metre long bar.  Here the welcoming smile of Von Mabazza, a tall, 25 year old bartender, greets customers, together with a cool beer or a Makati Luxury Sling. With a natural talent for bartending, Mabazza says that the vital ingredient for his success is a genuine love of people, listening to the stories of the bar’s habitués and sharing his own. Similarly, guests have a strong appreciation for the passion Mabazza puts into mixing their drinks.  Von is working on his signature drink, and he enjoys nothing more than tinkering behind the bar, dreaming up different concoctions. For now, he recommends his Spicy Mango Chilada – a zesty mango cocktail spiked with Tiger beer, soured with a splash of lime.

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