What’s your working background?
I started in 2002 as a hip-hop dancer at shows and clubs around San Diego. In 2004, I started promoting nightclubs tying in the dance community and party goers and eventually took over Victory Nightlife to work with many of the key nightclubs in San Diego’s Gaslamp District.
In 2009, I became the ambassador for Hennessy in Hollywood. At 26 years old, it was my dream job. Doors opened, I started emceeing large shows, doing national commercial spots for Pizza Hut and Nissan, and throwing exclusive parties.
I was always interested in the hospitality industry. So, when I was 30, I changed careers and got work as an intern at the W Hotel Hollywood. It was a humbling experience going from being Mr. Hennessy to being an intern in the housekeeping department. From there I knew I wanted to become a hotelier.
What brought you to Nha Trang?
I went to Nha Trang to open up a boutique hotel. However, that quickly changed in 2014 once I stepped foot on the vacant rooftop of Havana Nha Trang Hotel.
Where did you get the idea for Skylight from?
All the major cities around Asia have iconic rooftop destinations. Nha Trang needed one, too. Despite my goal at the time, the nightlife industry was where my expertise lay. When we first discovered Havana Nha Trang Hotel’s rooftop, we instantly fell in love.
We saw the property on the Monday and signed the lease on the Friday.
What makes Skylight so unique?
Although there are plenty of skybars in Vietnam, Skylight Nha Trang is the first rooftop beach club. Our goal was to bring the beach to new heights by providing an elevated nightlife experience in the sky. Skylight is made up of three different areas: a 360-degree Skydeck, a Chef’s Club Restaurant, and a Rooftop Beach Club. This is what makes it so unique.
Was it your intention to make the viewing deck at Skylight a tourist attraction?
Yes. Wherever you go, people always want to visit the tallest buildings with the most spectacular views.
How do you keep Skylight ‘fresh’ so that customers want to come back again and again?
It’s all about our team — they are the ones who create the memorable experiences that make our guest want to return. We tell our staff, it’s “easy” to get people to come to your place once, but how do you get them to come back? That’s the difference between being just another skybar and becoming a premier destination in Southeast Asia.
If you were to be showing someone around Nha Trang, where would you take them?
If I had 24 hours, I would start by visiting Long Son Pagoda and Po Nagar Temple. I would grab lunch at LIVINCollective before heading over to the mud baths at iResort. I would get a deep tissue massage afterwards at Pure Vietnam Beauty & Spa, then make my way over to Chef’s Club at Skylight for dinner followed by drinks at the Rooftop Beach Club. Eventually I would head to the after-party at Sailing Club before ending the night with some late-night pho across from Nha Trang train station.
How well is Nha Trang competing for tourist dollars?
With the addition of world class venues and hospitality brands, standards here are on the up and the city is evolving thanks to projects like Ana Marina Yacht Club and JW Marriott.
What actions have people taken to increase the number of tourists coming to the city?
The biggest impact will be felt once the new International Airport Terminal at Cam Ranh opens up in April 2018. Not only will it open up more direct flights and expand our existing marketing, but it’ll enable Nha Trang to welcome over 5 million tourists every year.
How bright is the future of tourism in Nha Trang?
I wouldn’t have moved to Nha Trang if I didn’t believe in its future.
PHOTO BY DAVID DOUGAN / CA STUDIOS