A Work Week With Stephanie Chai - Founder Of The Luxe Nomad
From building a travel empire to relaxing with her friends, we walk you through a week in The Luxe Nomad's founder, Stephanie Chai, work week.
Rise and shine in Hong Kong! I would call this Monday morning an anomaly because I am starting my morning on a boat and contrary to popular belief, boats do not make a regular feature in my mornings. But, today, I’m checking out some luxury boats with my friend Antonia Dacruz, the GM of Guavapass Hong Kong. We’re working on holding a special event between Guavapass and The Luxe Nomad so we’re are checking out which boats are the best fit. I have to say, it is a little hard to plan things on a speeding boat, especially with *ahem* the sun shining and the water beckoning. By noon, I’m back home and back online. Being The Luxe Nomad, naturally, our team of Nomads is spread across the region - from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Vietnam and to Hong Kong (where I’m based). Mondays are our busiest days of the week as we have our weekly meetings where we set out our goals for the rest of the week. Different departments send me their weekly updates which I then put together and send out in an email. We then have a call where we go through the key updates. This is also the time for anyone who wants to raise a point not made in the weekly emails or to make a comment. We keep our meetings to a short and sweet 15 minutes but when we first started our weekly calls, they were 40 minutes long! People would tune out, so now we’re all about being to the point! By evening, it’s off for the last flight to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where we have an operations office.
Welcome to Malaysia, Truly Asia! As with most work days, I’m usually up around 7:30AM and in the office by 9AM or 9:30AM. Today, our all-girl office also happens to have our tech developers in town who have flown in from Vietnam. They are also the only two guys in the office. Perhaps that explains why they have sequestered themselves in a small room in the office, away from the rest of The Luxe Nomad ladies, haha... Besides running through our tech updates and fixes, I’m also working with our marketing department on the latest stays we have for our Nomads On The Go program. The program involves teaming up with celebrities and social media influencers who fit The Luxe Nomad brand and have them visit our properties to review them for us. We’ve done some amazing collaborations with the likes of Chriselle Lim, Godfrey Gao and most recently - Georgina Wilson. This program is really what helped put us on the map when we started in 2012, with only $200k in funding which was half what our competitors at the time had raised (nothing like not having money to make one think out of the box!). In the late afternoon, it’s time for a bit of glam as I pop out for a photoshoot for Louis Vuitton’s ‘Make a promise campaign with UNICEF. The campaign is raising funds for children in need and I’m super excited and honoured to be a part of it along with female entrepreneur and celebrity, Tengku Chanela Jamidah.
Hello, sunshine! It’s a morning flight to Bali for meetings as we recently expanded into villa management and are in the midst of taking over a partner’s company. Our first merger and acquisition! We start the day off by visiting one of our premium luxury villas, Villa Suami, a stunning 5 bedroom villa located in Canggu. I have a checklist of things to go over at the villa which relates to maintenance as well as service. We are continuously training our staff and it is always good to get feedback from them and discuss the guests’ stays. Today, we are looking at improving the menu as well as the additional things we can provide at the villa such as a unicorn float! Decisions, decisions…
I wake up in paradise at Villa Sungai this Thursday. It’s so peaceful and quiet that you can hear the birds singing. But, there’s no rest for the wicked! I am never short of checklists and things to do. I only have enough time to take a quick dip in the glorious infinity pool before it’s back to the emails and meetings! Today, I’m zig zagging all over the island looking at some villa developments and pitching our service to villa owners. Part of my role as CEO is to help sign on new properties to our management division and that means, meeting with owners, property developers and so forth. If a property is too far or secluded, it is at times something we wouldn’t take on, so it is important to see things in person. Luckily for me, I have our trusty driver Merti to take me around. I met him years ago before I started The Luxe Nomad and he has always made me laugh. He was duly made our company driver (he had me at his namecard, “Merti, Not just a driver”). In the evening, I head to Seminyak to catch up with some friends who are in town. We check out one of my favourite restaurants Metis, known for its french cuisine and fine dining. Part of The Luxe Nomad service is that we offer complimentary concierge so checking out where to go in our destinations is part of ‘my job’ (cough, cough!).
Happy Friday! Today, it’s a morning flight to Tokyo. Did you know that Tokyo has seen its tourism numbers double in the last few years? Currently, we manage some great luxury apartments located in the Shibuya and Shinjuku area and we’re looking to add more to that repertoire. I have tons of meetings with our partner and Japanese investor the following week so, I’m actually flying in earlier so I can spend the weekend in Tokyo (plus the long flight is always good for getting work done!). On the upside, to keep me company over the weekend are my bffs, Jasmine and Deborah, who have flown in from Kuala Lumpur. By the time we get to our apartment, it’s early evening so, we get ready for dinner and head straight out to our favourite BBQ meat restaurant, Ushigoro. Make sure you to go the outlet in Roppongi and besides the amazing beef - the salad, beef tartare, udon and oxtail soup are a must order as well. To cap off the night, we head to Two Rooms Grill in Omotesando with an eclectic crowd mix of expatriates and Japanese folk. We even spot Jessica Michibata, and I wonder how do I approach her about becoming one of our Nomads On the Go...
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a work week with