Service On The Water
Ships with dining and
entertainment have been in HCM City for a long time but the service has yet
to meet the demands of many high-income people. An Austrian has decided to
exploit the gap.
On the small, simple but
cozy stage of the ship Bonsai 1, a young Vietnamese woman in a yellow,
flower-embroidered ao dai stood in front of a klonpuk, an ethnic bamboo
instrument with 15 pipes, clapping her hands at one end of the pipes to
create a melodious piece of music to the accompaniment of a drum, a flute
and a t'rung.
The musician's undertaking
was one of the performances guests on the restaurant and conference ship
could enjoy during their cruise on Saigon River. This ship belongs to Stefan
Ernest, who is from Austria, and Thomas Peter, who is from Switzerland. It
is a 100% foreign-owned investment project and operates through Bonsai
Floating Conference Co., Ltd, which was established by the two men.
The idea of operating such a
ship in Vietnam came into being in Ernest's mind about one year ago. Ernest
said that on his first trip to HCM City in late 2003, he came up with the
idea that he should build a wooden restaurant ship for Saigon River cruises.
This ship would have to be special and exclusive compared with the existing
Returning to Austria, Ernest
designed a ship model and discussed it with his relations and friends. Then,
he came back to HCM City to look for people who could design and build the
ship. He also submitted to HCM City Department of Planning and Investment an
application for a project to establish a company to operate a restaurant,
entertainment and conference services ship. He acquired the investment
license about three months later and set up Bonsai Floating Conference Co.,
Ltd in January 2004.
Ernest, the company's
managing director, said his ship aims to serve businesspeople, expatriates
living and working in Vietnam, international tourists, and high-income
locals. The ship has three sections for companies, agencies and individuals
to hold events.
Peter, the sales and
marketing manager, said he noticed that there were many five-star hotels and
luxury restaurants in HCM City but there were no on-the�river gastronomic,
conference, entertainment, and recreational services of a corresponding
standard, so they decided to invest in this field. "It's a small market but
there are no competitors," he said.
Ernest said Bonsai 1 is
exclusive because of its shape and size, staff, services, food and drink,