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Khin Omar Win
Gangtey Lodge
Owner

TOMO Hotelier

What do you consider your team’s greatest achievement?
To be regularly voted amongst the best hotels in the world and receiving multiple industry awards has been my team's most outstanding achievement. All, bar one, had no experience in hospitality when we opened the hotel, so to be recognised this way has hugely boosted their confidence.

What do you most value in a hotel for your own holidays?
I love hotels with a sense of place, an authentic service and a strong connection with the community in which it is located.

What is one place nearby that every one of your guests should discover?
The Gangtey Shedra is the one place I recommend all guests to discover, only a short 5 minute walk up the hill behind our Lodge. The Shedra is a Monastic University where our guests can join the student monks for their morning and evening prayers or meditation lessons.

What is your dream journey?
My dream journey was previously Bhutan, but now that is off my list, I am seeking pristine natural environments that may disappear with time - Diana Fossey's Gorillas, the Galapagos islands, or Antartica.

What local dish do you never tire of eating?
Momos. Little dumpling pockets that explode with flavour when you bite into them! The pork and cheese momos are my favourites, eaten with a spicy chilli dip. They are fun and delicious eaten any time of the day!

What motivated you to become a hotelier?
Hotels are a fantastic way to bring sustainable development to remote areas. I became a hotelier by chance after my husband Brett and I discovered a far-flung village in northern Burma, where we built our first hotel. Daily life there was challenging, with the main livelihood being subsistence farming. Lack of opportunities had created a rural-urban drain of young people leaving villages for the cities or the Jade mines on the China border. By building a hotel there, we were able to bring training and employment, free healthcare via our in house doctor and teach new farming techniques, ensuring these communities' long-term survival.

Hotels also provide employment opportunities for both young (front office, F&B, housekeeping) and old (landscaping and security) for those with our without formal education. Being a hotelier enables one to become part of the local fabric by supporting local suppliers or help solve problems via creating client experiences that help fund local schools and monasteries.

What was your greatest extravagance in creating your hotel?
This may sound strange, but at Gangtey Lodge it was undoubtedly our Swiss Fireplaces. It was much cheaper to buy fireplaces from India, but the Swiss fireplaces were environmentally friendly. To transport them to Bhutan, they had to be sent from Switzerland to the UK and then shipped to Calcutta, where they were loaded onto trucks to make the arduous journey over the Himalayas to Bhutan. It was a crazy thing to do, and they suffered damage, but I think our clients would agree that it was well worth the effort!

Where do you feel happiest on your property?
My happiest place at Gangtey Lodge is sitting on the terrace perched overlooking the expanse of the valley below. One feels a sense of awe and a connection with nature when witnessing the sun rise over the valley.

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