As an oil industry executive, Graham Slapp, 58, has spent 18 years in Vietnam, mostly involved in various positions within the industry. At times, this has meant uprooting his wife Oanh, 45, and their daughter and relocating elsewhere. For the past two years, the Slapp family has called Somerset Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam their home away from home.
“I moved from an offshore position to an onshore post in an oil company, which is why we moved to HCMC,” he said. “We moved around in different establishments, but we decided that Somerset Ho Chi Minh City suited us.” Aside from the convenience, the Slapps liked the location of the serviced residence. “We have a 13-year-old daughter who goes to international school here. One of the best things about Somerset was that they offer a bus service to and from the school.”
It wasn’t just the bus service that drew the Slapps to stay at Somerset though. “We were quite familiar with the staff at Somerset who were very friendly and accommodating. We were very comfortable and didn’t want to move,” added Mr Slapp.
Given that they were staying put in HCMC for a while, it would have made sense for the Slapps to rent their own home, something that they had also considered. “One thing we became aware of when we were considering renting a house was that maids are very difficult to come by. We were living in a serviced apartment and we thought it would be quite difficult to get the same quality of service if we got our own help staff. Somerset also had a pool and a gym, which was very well-equipped and that was important to me. So I was happy with that.”
Graham also appreciated Somerset’s high level of security for its residents, something that might not have been be possible had they gotten their own place. “My job involves a lot of travelling. In 2010, I travelled six to eight times, from anywhere between two days to a week. So I had to leave my wife and daughter in HCMC and by the time, Somerset was like home. I recognise that for expat families, living at Somerset would be a big advantage.”
Graham, whose family has never stayed at a serviced residence before, was also impressed at how the staff would go the extra mile for its guests – like the “extra-curricular activities Somerset organises for residents”. He was particularly grateful for the prompt assistance they gave. “Whenever there was anything that required assistance from the staff, they immediately responded, with people knocking on the door to fix the problem, so I thought that was very good. They quickly got hold of an IT expert to come when we had a problem with the Internet connection and fixed whatever needed fixing. There were other instances where the cable broke down or something needed repairing and it was done within 10 minutes.”
So appreciative were the Slapps of the extra care and service of Somerset Ho Chi Minh City staff that when they moved back to Brisbane early this year, they showed their appreciation with a cake for them and a letter complimenting the service they were given.
Graham, who has taken on another offshore post, still travels a lot, but his wife and daughter remain in Brisbane. Of his family’s stay at Somerset, he has these parting words, “We live in the Gold Coast, which is the top tourist destination in Australia. So we’re used to very high standards of customer service. Somerset Ho Chi Minh City certainly lived up to that standard. I was just back there recently and it felt like coming home.”