In an era driven by direct bookings, I believe that the best form of marketing is through the "word of mouth" of our delighted guests.

Neil Li brings over a decade of hotel management experience from top international 5-star hotels in Shanghai, China. Previously serving as Assistant Vice President at Shangri-La Circle, Li boasts a robust background in hotel operations, sales, and high-end project management. His expertise will be instrumental in elevating operational excellence and enhancing overall guest satisfaction at Centara Reserve Samui.

Tell us a little bit about your journey in hospitality? How did you get started?

I began my hospitality journey in a rather unconventional way by joining a startup that restored and redesigned old apartments in a historical building in Shanghai. I was involved in the interior design process, and once the apartments were ready after a major facelift, I led a team to run them as a bed and breakfast. It was through this that I discovered my passion for the hospitality industry, realising how much I enjoyed creating memorable experiences for guests.

What's your goal for Centara Reserve Samui?

I see tremendous potential for Centara Reserve Samui and aim to elevate our brand awareness, positioning the hotel as a premier international luxury destination, and ensuring this inaugural reserve resort serves as an effective and successful platform for global expansion for this iconic Centara Reserve brand, something  the company has exciting growth plans for in the future.

I embrace challenges as they inspire me to rise early, ready for action and eager to make a positive impact. The biggest challenge in managing a seaside resort on a tropical island is maintaining the hotel's facilities to the highest standards. To meet our guests' expectations, especially those visiting for special occasions, we proactively conduct preventive maintenance and continuously upgrade our facilities. Moreover, our team is the hotel's greatest asset, ensuring guests are well taken care of, leaving them with beautiful memories and a desire to return.

How have your previous experiences influenced your approach to sales and marketing at Centara Reserve Samui, especially in attracting and retaining high-end clientele?

Having worked with esteemed international hotel groups like Hyatt and Shangri-La, I have learned the importance of targeting international hotel awards, collaborating with high-end luxury travel agencies, and executing effective campaigns with online travel agencies. However, what truly distinguishes a good luxury hotel from a great one is a personal touch. In an era driven by direct bookings, I believe that the best form of marketing is through the "word of mouth" of our delighted guests. We focus on making everyone feel special throughout their entire journey, from the initial inquiry to post-stay follow-ups, which not only reduces sales costs but also enhances guest loyalty.

As a leader with a robust background in managing teams, how do you inspire and develop your team at Centara Reserve Samui? Can you share any particular leadership philosophies or practices that you believe are crucial for maintaining a motivated and high-performing team?

I strongly believe in leading by example to ensure my team knows I am there to support their growth and development, demonstrating how to effectively interact with guests and manage the hotel's operations. Thailand's warm and welcoming culture aligns perfectly with the hospitality industry, and our team works incredibly hard. My role is to provide tools and ideas to improve our SOPs, allowing them to spend more time with guests making immediate positive impacts. Quick improvements motivate the team to maintain and exceed their performance standards.

Visit the property here