Spending time with Ruben Dario Gabino the GM of Conrad Koh Samui is a truly delightful way to while away an afternoon, as the Argentinian hotelier has a tendency to charm and fascinate listeners with his effortlessly engaging delivery insightful anecdotes, peppered with good humour and a big heart.
With a background in F&B, Ruben has built a reputation as a man who can transform hotel managed restaurants into popular and exciting dining venues in their own right. With that in mind, part one of my interview with Conrad Koh Samui’s top dog focuses on his plans for F&B at this incredible property.
In your career to date you have had a lot of success developing the restaurants and the F&B of your posts as whole, what can we expect from you on Conrad Koh Samui?
Well right now we have very good operation but it is a typical lunch and dinner set-up. One of things we are trying to create over here is something a little different. The thrust of which, is that no matter what time a guest leaves their room, there will be something going on in the hotel which relate to food – this could be something around the pool, or on the beach, whatever it is it will be something you won’t expect.
When you say something, what do you mean?
I can’t tell you exactly what (laughing), as we are still putting it together, but it will be about introducing particular flavours in less obvious settings. The concept is to go further than food though, it’s also about creating atmospheres within different parts of the hotel, with the right music, the right smells etc. F&B at Conrad Koh Samui is going to be about unique experiences in different parts of the hotel.
One of the biggest highlights of Thailand, no matter where you go or what you eat – is that is literally bursting with flavour, whether that is on a street cart or in a restaurant.
To push this to the fore, we want to connect with produce that is very local, and introduce these smells, tastes and textures to our guests. It’s not just for our international guests either, we hope Thais will love it too.
There are so many food cultures, in different regions of the country, and we want to reintroduce certain herbs and ways of preparing food that have been forgotten over time.
We have three restaurants and a lot of open spaces and we will bring all these cool food experiences to those spaces (corridors, landing and stairwells) but also out on the beach or in the jungle. If we can marry these places with great food experiences then we can create amazing and unforgettable moments for our guests.
Around this we are also can going to build other interactive experiences. For example, we are in contact with local fishermen to introduce them to guests. But, this will not be your average fishing trip; guests will get an authentic glimpse into their lives. In this case that could mean heading out to sea at 4am, on local style boat to actually live, if only for a day, like a Thai fisherman.
In the second part of our interview, Ruben discusses the property’s MICE product and opens up about a community project which has become very close to his heart.