Paul Linder ~ making dreams come true

omkara Interviews

Paul Linder has been the GM for some the worlds most prestigious wellness resorts, including Chiva Som, COMO Shambhala Estate and now he’s taking care of the Amanpuri in Phuket, Thailand AMAN hotels and resorts.

I had the pleasure of meeting Paul during my stay at COMO Shambhala Estate several years ago, when he was managing the stunning property. Our meeting turned into an extended lunch, followed by dinners and then during other visits more lunches. He’s one of a kind, with a sophisticated style, a welcoming smile and many worldly stories to share.

IT WAS CLEAR ON OUR FIRST MEETING THAT YOU TAKE GREAT CARE OF YOURSELF. I KNOW IT SEEMS OBVIOUS CONSIDERING YOUR LINE OF WORK, HOWEVER, NOT EVERYONE I MEET IN THE WELLNESS & SPA INDUSTRY LOOKS AS HEALTHY (& FABULOUS) AS YOU DO. CAN YOU SHARE SOME OF YOUR SECRETS ?
There are no secrets, I can only say “walk the talk”, do what you preach and live in moderation. I am very tough with myself and I have good self-control. The first thing I do when I wake up is have a hot water with lime. Most mornings I also have a papaya and avocado, which are so fresh and delicious here in Thailand, a delight to eat. If they’re in season, I also have a pineapple juice, but sometimes I swoop to apple and carrot. I have more or less removed carbohydrates from my daily diet, however, I might treat myself when on holiday.

Stretch and do every morning Yoga movements and massage my face, ears and make a lot of funny faces by looking into the mirror!Paul Linder

BEING SWISS BRON YOU’VE MASTERED THE ART OF THE EXPAT LIVING IN ASIA. WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS YOU LOVE THE MOST ABOUT BEING THERE?
I would say the quality of life, the kindness of Thai people, the amazing food offering, of course being based in Phuket and having the beach in front of the house, most importantly escaping the cold Swiss weather – I love the heat and sunshine!

I IMAGINE BEING THE GM OF A HIGH END WELLNESS RESORT, IS SIMILAR TO BEING THE CONDUCTOR OF AN ORCHESTRA. YOU ARE THE FACE OF THE PROPERTY, ITS A BIG ROLE. PLEASE SHARE A STORY OR MOMENT THAT COMES TO MIND…
This is correct you are the conductor of an Orchestra or a circus too in some moments. Sometimes I feel like a clown – here to entertain people! I am proud to head a property like Amanpuri. We are here to take care of our guests but at the same time, act as a father or a brother and a colleague to the team – here to guide, teach and listen.

As a GM I have the pleasure of meeting and looking after inspiring guests from all over the world. It’s my role to ensure that nothing is impossible for our guests. It may involve sourcing unusual foods, being a travel agent, or a personal concierge, the sky is the limit for our guests!

YOU’RE BRILLIANT AT YOUR JOB (OBVIOUSLY) BUT ALSO FROM FIRST HAND EXPERIENCE, ITS EVIDENT THAT YOU TRULY LOVE WHAT YOU DO. HOW DID YOU DISCOVER YOUR PASSION FOR THIS LINE OF WORK? 
Live your dreams! The most important thing is to truly love what you do, make it your priority to find your real passion. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to fail.

I started out as a patisserie chef followed, I then did a chef apprentice. From there I saw what I could do, I wanted to be with the guests and so I became a waiter and sommelier with Fredy Girardet, at the number one restaurant in Switzerland. From there, I went abroad to France, England and Italy, learning the languages and gaining valuable work experience at the same time.

In order to move up the ladder, I decided to enrol in ‘Hotel School’ in Lucern and Cornell in Ithaca – I wanted to be a real college student and live on campus! My dream, since I was 15 years old was to live and work in Asia, which took me to Seoul, South Korea and Bangkok. I spent a brief time in New York which was not for me so I returned to Europe for two years, before I returned to Asia, where I spent 11 ½ years at Chiva-Som, three years with COMO in Bali and now in Thailand at Amanpuri.

YOU WERE BASED IN BALI FOR A LONG TIME AND AS BEAUTIFUL AS IT IS THERE, IT MUST BE NICE HAVING A CHANGE IN LOCATION. PLEASE TELL US MORE ABOUT THE AMANPURI PROPERTY YOUR’E MANAGING IN THAILAND? 
Dreams do come true! When I was based with The Oriental BKK in 1997 I came to Phuket stayed at the renowned Amanpuri. I was standing in the lobby and I dreamed that one day I would work here. It took me 18 years to make my dream come true! Proving that if you believe in yourself and work hard, it is worth it in the end.

Amanpuri is the flagship of the AMAN group, the mother ship and first AMAN property built and born in 1988! We have 40 gorgeous pavilions and 45 privately owned Villas, all with amazing views over the Andaman Sea, the most private and most beautiful beach in Phuket. We offer the most amazing AMAN Spa and incredible Gym with 270 degree views, Pilates & Gyro tonic studio, 2 public pools and 5 restaurants and a gorgeous relaxing library.

ITS EXCITING TO SEE THAT THE AMAN HOTELS AND RESORTS ARE BECOMING MORE WELLNESS ORIENTATED THAN THEY WERE IN THE PAST …. CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THIS NEW DIRECTION WITH THE WELLNESS IMMERSIONS?  
The individual wellness immersions are inspired by the exquisite setting of Amanpuri. The holistic hideaway invites each individual to experience one of its 3 to 14 day individual wellness immersions. Each designed to promote profound change. These carefully calibrated programs aim to gently steer you onto a new path. Whether you seek to increase fitness levels, shift unwanted weight and its emotional root causes, deep cleanse your entire system or attain renewed awareness, Amanpuri’s four immersion experience ensure palpable results and a deep sense of inner peace and happiness.

WITH ENDLESS WAYS TO KEEP FIT AT YOUR FINGERTIPS, WHAT’S YOUR CHOSEN FORM OF EXERCISE?
I love any kind of exercise. I usually start in the morning with Yoga or a swim. On my day off I go for a run on the beach or into one of the local villages to explore the region. I also go to the gym and do Pilates. From time to time I enjoy a game of golf on one of the four courses here in Phuket and once a year my big passion is to play Elephant Polo for the Thai King’s Cup Elephant Polo championship which I have participated for the last 10 years – anything unexpected is possible here!

WHAT ARE SOME OF YORU FAVOURITE THINGS ABOUT BEING THE GM OF A WORLD CLASS SPA RESORT? 
Nurturing a world class resort is like looking after like a plant – by talking to it and picking old leaves and keeping it in the best shape possible. Being proud of running such an amazing establishment with the support of a world class team. I try to do my best and evolve to become better every day and never stand still. Having the daily opportunity to work with such a great and well established team, meeting God and creating unforgettable and truly exceptional experiences. Welcoming back home many familiar faces who have been here many times as well as individuals I met at The Oriental in BKK or at Chiva-Som or at COMO Shambhala Estate in Bali – the world is like a big family. Having the chance to meet lots of AMAN junkies who are traveling from one AMAN experience to another. Enjoying the delicious Thai food and also when time allows, trailing our spa and wellness treatments in order to talk to our guests about them are also highlights.