The swimming pool at The Villa Paradiso.
A boutique hotel on Street 222 in Phnom Penh is offering daytime spa packages for people who want to have some relaxation in lush greenery in the heart of the city – and they triple the monthly salary for their employees of the month.
Philipp and Sandra Hoffmann, owners of The Villa Paradiso at #27 Street 222, have constructed a series of wooden huts along the periphery of their swimming pool area designed for people to have aromatherapy, aloe vera body wraps, herbal compresses, facials and body scrubs.
In order to get excellence in service out of their Khmer staff, the Hoffmanns have implemented a unique program that offers strong incentive to create the conditions for outstanding performances.
The whole staff votes for the employee of the month, for which the Hoffmanns provide the short list. Whoever is voted in gets triple their salary that month.
“This is for people who go way above and beyond the call of duty in the service of our guests,” Sandra Hoffmann said. “The dollar is the reward and it works because we choose the list. You’re getting paid your salary to do your job, but the employee of the month means you’ve performed way above your regular duties.”
Hoffmann, from the German city of Ulm and his French-Canadian wife Sandra spent a lot of time in the world of manufacturing, including a dozen years in Dubai where they made surfboards, snowboards and boats before conducting a worldwide study of where they might want to be.
“The decision was done to leave Dubai because it became so expensive – always dusty, sandy, with construction everywhere, we didn’t know where to go and what business to do,” he said.
Sandra, an industrial engineer, planned the study based on measurable criteria including cost of living, taxation -- if foreigners could own properties and if there was a French school for their two sons, Angelo and Julian, ages 11 and 12.
“We had two children and we did not want to move their school system so we listed all the countries that had French schools,” she said.
The couple ended up with a short list including Argentina, Nicaragua and Cambodia – then proceeded to spend one month studying each country.
“Argentina fell out because economics weren’t good. Nicaragua was a fabulous opportunity, but they had just voted for a new communist government.”
Thus, Cambodia won the competition and the Hoffmanns moved here in September, 2009 and immediately started looking for a place.
Hoffmann discovered the villa while conducting a street-by-street survey in a tuk-tuk, discovered the place which had been in use as a bank and signed the lease in September, 2009.
After seven months of construction and nearly a million dollars in renovations and new equipment, The Villa Paradiso was born.
“The tiles are from Spain, the water mixer is from Italy, the sauna is from Germany, and the Jacuzzi is from Italy,” Hoffmann said.
Each of the 15 rooms in the boutique hotel is designed according to a special theme, including a music room, Japanese style room and one done in an Arabian style.
While The Villa Paradiso hosts a lot of business people and those from NGOs, government, diplomats and bankers, around twenty percent, most of the guests are international who find the place on websites, where very good reviews are regularly given, Hoffmann says.
“We are number one on all of the platforms,” he said.
During the high season, The Villa Paradiso’s occupancy is 95 percent, while the low season is pretty empty, he said. Many of the guests are Australians, Europeans and North Americans and very few local Khmers.
“I would seriously think that 95 percent of customers are looking for true boutique hotel experience, homey combined with luxury,” Sandra Hoffmann said.
The Hoffmanns are proud of the lengths they have gone to make an excellent guest experience.
“On a rainy day when you cannot go out, you have a video in demand system, you can watch 700 movies on demand, free of charge,” Philipp Hoffmann said.
While it took a while for the couple to understand Khmer people, they’ve had good luck retaining staff, with more than half staying with them from the start.
“The biggest thing we have is to establish trust and to create a team. You need to give them the trust, but you must have very clear guidelines. We are always present and the employees feel trained and the guests can connect with us and the employees feel trusting toward you.”
“The key to our success if our presence.”
The Hoffmanns are inviting local Phnom Penh residents to check out their massage and spa packages in their green jungle atmosphere with treatments ranging from $15 to $88 and visitors can hang around all day if they want, by the pool, using the Jacuzzi, and not worrying about having to be “in and out”.
“This is a different concept than the other spas. When you have a spa treatment you are not being kicked out, you have a fruit platter that comes complimentary and you can stay by the pool afterwards, and use the high speed Wi-Fi,” Sandra Hoffman said.
The Villa Paradiso’s website can be seen at www.thevillaparadiso.com