Windie Tsoi: New Home, New Chapter
Hong Kong’s Windie Tsoi has started a new life in the UAE as a yacht consultant, as she seeks to build on her experience in the luxury sector with Mandarin Oriental and Simpson Marine.
Note: The following appeared as a Column in YACHT STYLE Issue 69 (click here for PDF)
People in Hong Kong and elsewhere in Asia have lately been asking me, “Where have you been?” I’m writing this from Dubai, a place I now call home, and today I want to share my story. Growing up in Hong Kong, I was so privileged to enjoy efficiency, convenience, speed, seasonal weather, the ocean, green countryside and so much more.
In the middle of last year, for the first time, I was dreaming of a new destination after over two years of battling Covid restrictions and a lack of travel. I didn’t have any destination in mind, but I had the opportunity to travel to the Cannes Yachting Festival last September. Dubai was the stopover destination, and that flight changed the course of my life.
It was my first time in Dubai, my first steps in the Middle East. Without any planned itinerary, I visited the Museum of the Future, an interactive experience on a journey to 2071. Not only was I inspired by new ways of living, but I was also educated on how to help shape the world we live in.
Looking back at the history of Dubai, to where it is now and where it’s heading, I was captivated. I had an instant connection with this city. I love the energy and the vision. I was virtualising my future here, where we can interact together and be part of the plan to evolve together.
I spent half a day in the Museum of the Future, often sitting by myself and reflecting. The thought of living in Dubai started to enter my mind. After spending a week in Cannes, seeing my colleagues from shipyards in Italy for the first time since the 2019 show, I was longing for a greater connection to the world, so I decided to move to Dubai. A month later, I settled here.
My passion has always been in hospitality. While completing my Hotel Management degree, I was working with chef Richard Ekkebus, the hotel’s Director of Culinary Operations and F&B. Over the years, I developed an appreciation for the connections between fine food, art and sustainability.
From organising the first Four Hands Dinner event by inviting top chefs in the culinary world to ‘MOvember’ every November, I recognised how those in the prestigious position of being at the top, whether in society or a corporation, can make a difference to others by giving back to society.
The organisation for the Four Hands Dinner with Virgilio Martinez Véliz (Peru), André Chiang (Taiwan), Ferran Adrià (Spain) and Gaggan Anand (India) were particularly memorable. I found being part of a big, well planned event so satisfying.
I had the opportunity to observe the top chefs closely. The way they mastered the tiny details helped me to better appreciate Sanlorenzo yachts later in my career. Chef Richard was my first mentor and I’m always grateful to have been a part of his team.
I then moved to the Hong Kong headquarters where I worked remotely with David Nicholls, the Group Director of Food and Beverage based in the London office. I still feel so fortunate to have worked with such a reputable industry leader.
I was tasked with developing future talents, preparing for the expansion of the hotel portfolio. Being guided to achieve small tasks to moving forward to a bigger goal laid the foundation for me to further develop leadership skills, the ability to build a system and optimise the processes.
JOINING THE YACHTING WORLD
I then had the opportunity to work with Simpson Marine. I had never even heard of ‘Shum Wan’ until I was asked to visit the office for an interview. I was immediately lured by the lush, green area and the idea of working in an office close to the sea – it was so peaceful and quiet.
I started my role as Sanlorenzo Sales Assistant in 2018. My desk and an empty cabinet were the beginning of my adventure in this industry. From that day, I was grateful to be provided with opportunities for self-development including participation in major boat shows in Singapore and Cannes.
I also worked on various events such as Art Basel Hong Kong, the Sanlorenzo x Rolls-Royce Cullinan Asia launch in Japan, Korea and the Philippines, as well as market activation across Southeast Asia.
I met so many inspiring individuals in the company, including Nick Stratton (Sanlorenzo Asia Sales Manager). At that time, he was new to Hong Kong, after many years in Singapore. We had a great synergy and were always looking for the next project.
Ewa Stachurska, now Group Marketing Director, was always there when I needed advice as a young woman aspiring to grow in the industry. She was always full of ideas, ready to share her experience and support me. I was surrounded by a group of likeminded colleagues with common values, always eager to share our passion for the sea with our clients.
After about a year in the role, I obtained my pleasure boat licence and started to explore the islands, enjoying activities from fishing to wakesurfing, and exploring new seafood restaurants and new hiking trails.
With over 250 islands in Hong Kong, the areas to explore never end. On my recent trip ‘home’ to the city, I visited the Chef de Yim Tin restaurant while on Yim Tin Tsai, a small island off Sai Kung that’s home to unique cultural heritage sites including two UNESCO award-winning attractions.
In the Covid era, clients have shown greater interest in boating, and I met many people who enjoy the yachting lifestyle. I assisted over 40 owners with new-build projects and pre-owned yacht purchases and noticed that spending time on board their yacht became a regular part of their lifestyle. I’m so happy to see this shift and a new way of living.
The new chapter of my career as a yacht consultant focuses on offering tailor-made services offering uniquely differentiated experiences. My passion and visionary spirit have led me to the creation of a new concept, exclusively for building unforgettable experiences that provoke emotion and leave a lifetime of memories. I’m setting sail to embrace this new journey.
After spending most of her life in Hong Kong, Windie has been based in Dubai since October 2022, working as a yacht consultant. She studied Hotel Management at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) before spending almost four years with the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group’s F&B division, focused on hospitality and working with internationally renowned chefs. She moved to the yacht industry when she joined Simpson Marine in January 2018, spending two years as Sanlorenzo Sales Assistant and almost three years as a Yacht Broker, selling across multiple brands.