Who Are You?
Name: Ermanno Cima Vivarelli
Occupation: General Manager of Pangkor Island Beach Resort
Time in Malaysia: 20 years
I am originally from Italy, from Lake Como to be exact. I first worked in the textile industry in Milan. I had my own silk factory. With offices in New York, London, Paris and Tokyo, I used to travel the world. However, I also had a stint in the F&B industry. I worked at the Dorchester in London, and La Tour d’Argent in Paris. After that, I got on the luxury cruiser Royal Princess.
How he came to Malaysia
I met my wife in London in 1982. During the first six months, it was a long distance relationship. I was traveling all the time and it was not possible for her to follow me around. We then got engaged, but it took us six years to get married. In 1988 I decided to get closer to her and joined her in Malaysia. When I left the cruiser, my father asked me to join the family business in the silk industry. That meant we had to relocate to Italy. At that time, we were supplying silk to Christian Dior, Dona Karan, Paul Smith, Yves Saint Laurent and so on. I decided to expand the market towards the East. We opened a factory in China to produce Italian quality at lower costs, but with the financial crisis in 1997, we had to terminate our activities. We then decided to relocate in Malaysia. We always wanted to do so, and all we needed was a little push to do it.
The owner of Pangkor Island Beach Resort then asked me to have a role in consulting for him. I first came to the hotel as a Management and Quality consultant. After a couple of years, I was offered the General Manager position which I couldn’t refuse.
Life on the island
It is a dream! When I am in the office, I overlook a two-kilometre white sandy beach. I wake up to the hornbills, and I take a walk to my desk. It is quiet, peaceful and fantastically beautiful. Here, the notion of stress takes an entirely different meaning. It is a completely different life. Even if the responsibilities are quite high and demanding, as soon as I am out of the office, my free time is filled with fishing, sailing, and entertaining our guests.
Although my family is based in Kuala Lumpur, they spend almost five months with me here. I go back to the capital once a month, but I can’t be too far from the island for too long. I found my heaven here and I don’t plan on changing it.
I have absolutely no will to leave the island for now. And the owners know it. However, we have big plans for the hotel, and who knows what opportunities will arise. I have a dream though. I would love to manage this kind of hotel in the Mediterranean Sea. Majorca or Ibiza would be ideal. A laid back and quality hotel catering to families; that would be ideal. It is a bit difficult at the moment, given the economic context.
Also, I am a typical Italian. My family will always be my priority. If my sons wish to go back to Italy, I will do my best to join them. I can’t be far away from them for a long time. When I am in KL, most of my time is spent with my wife and my sons. All in all, I am living a dream at the moment. If there is any way to make it even bigger, why not?