Foreign Hotel Executives in Vietnam Reflect on Favorite Tet Memories
Vuko Kralj, General Manager, Azerai Can Tho: “My strongest memories of Tet are from when I was travelling in Vietnam for the first time in 2013. I was amazed by how the streets were all filled with Tet flowers—and by the spectacular flower markets. Around the city, people came out to take photos in ao dai in front of monuments and buildings, which were all nicely decorated. These images left me with the impression that Tet is a time for bright and happy colors. When I later relocated to Vietnam, I understood the importance of the holiday to the Vietnamese. Tet is a time for family reunions and for spending quality time together welcoming the New Year. Then people travel together from the third day onwards. It is very interesting to see families of three and four generations travelling together and the level of respect the young generation has for their elders. Every year Azerai Can Tho welcomes exuberant families visiting the resort to enjoy Tet. Our job as hoteliers is to enhance their happiness by creating memorable Tet experiences and becoming part of the celebration.”
Herbert Laubichler-Pichler, General Manager, Alma Resort Cam Ranh: What I like most about Tet is that it represents the end of the old year and getting ready for a new and better year. This is particularly meaningful for Tet 2021 after COVID-19 brought so much hardship for so many colleagues in our industry. I treasure Tet as I did Christmas with family back home in Austria and my favourite Tet memories are with family and staff, who are like family to me. Tet is about connecting with your family and it’s all the more meaningful now. I’m lucky to be part of a Vietnamese family, celebrating Tet with my dear wife Phuong and her mother. I love attending a praying ceremony with the monks at our resort’s temple, reflecting on the year past and praying for the upcoming year. Such a contemplative ceremony is counterbalanced by the energy and colour of lion dancing. At Alma, the spirit of Tet is palpable. Our staff have an extra “spring” in their step (excuse the pun), we have fun decorating the resort and enjoying different foods, not to mention everyone embracing traditions such as “preparing the house” for family and friends, in this case our guests of course.
Anthony Slewka, Regional Director of Sales, Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi: “My favorite Tet memory is my first Tet in 2015, when I was invited to visit a family and their relatives on the first day of the year at a village on the outskirts of Hanoi. Going from house to house drinking tea and talking—this memory has stayed with me always. What stood out most is how much I learned in only one afternoon about the layout of traditional homes, with many rooms open to the elements, the space dedicated to ancestors and of course how the television has become a central part of the home in the newer dwellings. It was really an amazing experience that included a visit to the largest pagoda in the area.”
Ye Chang Sheng (Peter), Acting General Manager, The Anam Cam Ranh: As there are many similarities between Tet here in Vietnam and how my family and I celebrated the Lunar New Year growing up in my native China, I always feel a sense of nostalgia at Tet time. Seeing families, sometimes of up to four generations, come together brings me back to my childhood. We would catch up with our extended family and spend time with my grandparents, aunties, uncles and cousins. Out of the many Tet customs, the one that strikes a chord with me the most would have to be calligraphy giving. It’s such an honourable skill and it truly symbolises new beginnings, with messages encapsulating good luck, safety and prosperity. Whether on large vertical banners or on small banners hung on the cherry blossom and plum blossom trees, the calligraphy always looks so beautiful and graceful. It’s such a significant tradition and I really hope it continues to be passed down the generations despite the onset of technology. I’ll be sure to visit the “Ông Đồ” (calligraphy master) at The Anam this Tet for a special calligraphy message of good fortune for the year ahead.
Adam Calver, Director of Golf and Destination Marketing, Laguna Lang Co, Lang Co: Experiencing my first Tet is a memory that will last a lifetime. As a guest in the country it was an honour to be afforded the privilege of being invited to participate in cultural celebrations, learning the traditions of Tet and partaking of age-old traditions like the custom of handing out lucky money envelopes. All of these are amazing experiences in their own right, and I would encourage anyone to participate fully. The excitement and joy engendered by these ancient traditions can only be described as verging on the ecstatic. Although the official Tet holiday is only three days, celebrations can stretch for well over a week, which makes for a really relaxed atmosphere around the country. It is truly the best time to experience the essence of Vietnam’s culture. After 2020 we are all looking forward to turning the page and celebrating the year ahead.