Loan Fosters and her "Journey to the East"

She has been dubbed “one of Hanoi’s most fashionable hostesses” by The Wall Street Journal.  Ms Loan is a descendant of a respected family of high-ranking officials in Nam Dinh Vietnam’s north.  Loan, who speaks seven language is guided by a deep sense of history and wears many hats

A recognized researcher at Hanoi’s Institute of Archaeology, where she specializes in Chinese and Vietnamese ceramics, Ms Loan has engaged in a lifetime of academic study.  She studied Linguistics at the Sorbonne, History of Arts, Chinese Studies and Archaeology at the Munich’s University Ludwig Maximilian, and acquired a Chinese language proficiency degree from Taipei’s Fu Ren Da Xue University.  She studied for her MA in Beijing’s Bei Da University, writing her thesis on the history of the origins of the discovery of papermaking in ancient China under Pan Jixing, professor of the history of science at the Academia Sinica in Beijing.

Among Loan’s array of accolades, she was named “Honorary Consul of Uruguay” in Hanoi by then Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez Loan has also clinched a coveted Award of Merit from Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyễn TấnDũng.  The Consulate of Uruguay headed by Ms. Loan will open its door to the public in the fall of 2015.

Loan refurbished a villa that made Architectural Digest’s January 1998 cover page. Standing on the fringe of Hanoi’s stunning West Lake.

1. How long have you been living in Hanoi and what have you been doing in those years?

I came back 25 years ago after having lived in so many big cities and armed with over 15 years of experience as an entrepreneur.  I decided it was time to go back to Vietnam. 
When I first built the Hanoi Business Centre my very first clients at were no others than my very loyal patrons from my restaurant in Taipei like the Standard Chartered Bank, The Hong-Kong and Shanghai Bank, The Citibank, the American Express Bank, financial services like Bloomberg, Reuters, Dow Jones...
The Hanoi Business Centre was the meeting point for foreign investors to gather,  exchange information on foreign investments new regulations. 

2. Why did you suddenly get into the travel business?

My vision for Journeys to the East stems from a 1995 assignment with legendary hotelier Robert Burns Sr., who is credited with bringing the concept of five-star hotels to Asia by founding the Regent Hotel Group in Hong Kong. My mandate was to find locations across Vietnam for five-star hotels and resorts.
My understanding of real five-star standards started with my first challenge to secure approval for Bob’s chartered Cessna to land at Hanoi’s airport, the first private Cessna to do so, just as the US was lifting its embargo.  With his focus on innovation, attention to detail, top-class cuisine, exquisite accommodation and unrivalled service, Bob was an inspiring mentor for Journeys to the East. He helped define the exceptional service standards we observe, and he helped hone our appreciation of what it was that travelers really want out of a sophisticated journey.

3. Typically who are your clients and what do they like to see/do in Vietnam?

They are those who look for high-end tour operator in the Land of the Ascending Dragon and beyond and who look for attention to detail, top-class cuisine, exquisite accommodation, unrivalled service  and, most notably, an array of little, personalized touches.
We offer rare insights and unique encounters with Vietnamese life, history and culture, what results is an authentic taste of the East’s finest with luxurious finishes, propelling their journey into an entirely new dimension.

4. You are quite famous in Hanoi for organizing great parties at your house with Michelin star chefs.  Which chefs have you brought in and when is your next party? 

Clients are typically welcomed on arrival to my French colonial villa.   A feature of the house is the incorporation of re-assembled and restored pieces of a Mandarin Ancestral Hall House.  Standing on the fringe of Hanoi’s stunning West Lake, the villa is an evocative backdrop to dinner parties as part of Journeys to the East tours.  
A native of Hanoi but having studied and lived in Europe for many years, I started my entrepreneurial career by opening the first gourmet Vietnamese restaurant in Nymphenburg, Munich, and a Sushi Bar in the trendy area of Schwabing, popular with artists and designers.
So I am quite familiar with the restaurant business therefore to bring innovation in my Journeys to the East  program I organize fine wine and gourmet dinners inviting Star Michelin Chef from various background to come and work together with my Vietnamese Chefs and bring out the best of both East meet West – among those is  Star Michelin Raphael LeMancq from the French Alps and his team has been twice to Hanoi to charm the local audience bringing a fresh alpine air and an excellent understanding of how to work with the local ingredients and Vietnamese Chefs.
Journeys to the East's next dinner will be on November 18th with the theme “Autumn in Hanoi” as this is the best season in the whole country and we will invite our Hanoi audience to book the dinner paired with Chateau Marquis d’Alesme of Margaux.

5. Do you also organize events for other people (like weddings)?

Yes, Journeys to the East will see to every last detail for an occasion that will be nothing short of extraordinary for client’s wedding.  We will envisage their wedding day and honeymoon and then bring those dreams to life in some of Asia and Europe’s most romantic and spectacular locations.
Our organizational savvy extends from Vietnam to the French Alps, and any number of points in between.  Keen to exchange vows in Venice at the Aman Grand Canale, where George Clooney and his wife Amal tied the knot or a chateau in the famed wine-growing region of Bordeaux or the exquisite La Bastide de Marie in sun-drenched Provence.

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