Creating An Iconic Venue: Q&A with Dolores Au, Founder and CEO of VLV

Dolores Au

“My career has indeed spanned many different roles, but I feel a lot of the skill sets are transferrable, and my diverse experience lends me good stead in a lot of business related decision making processes.” Dolores Au, Founder and CEO of VLV. 

A veteran in the marketing and media industry, Dolores brings with her more than 18 years of management experience in public relations,branding, marketing and journalism, carving a niche for herself as one of the key players in the industry, not only in Singapore but across Asia.
Dolores now embarks on an expanded portfolio as the face of VLV to drive the creation of an iconic venue which will expand to destination cities worldwide. In each city, the VLV experience will weave together stunning vistas, inviting interiors and the comfort of Asian hospitality, together with the venue’s four key concepts of premium dining, entertainment, nightlife and riverside dining. LadyBoss caught up with Dolores on the future of VLV!

In creating VLV, we have carefully curated a destination to put Singapore on the world-stage with a truly global lifestyle offering.

Q: Tell us more about VLV. How long you’ve been doing it?

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A: VLV was launched on September 2016. It sits on Clarke Quay like a regal Empress; a stunning heritage building with a 100-year-old history that captivated me from the get-go. I saw the beauty and business potential of the space when I first set eyes on it, and knew it would be a perfect place to showcase authentic Chinese cuisine in a modern, lush and inspiring setting.  Spanning across 20,000 square feet of prime space, it gave me the opportunity to create 4 different experiential zones: an award-winning restaurant; a sophisticated, cutting edge Club Lounge; an alfresco courtyard with ‘live’ music and a riverside dining enclave.

Q: Describe to us the guest experience in VLV?

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A: Every visit to VLV has the potential to be an entirely different experience for the guest. They may come by for happy hour in the courtyard and head up to the restaurant for dinner. Dining guests may join us for an early dinner and head down to the courtyard for live music after, or party the night away on our dancefloor. We are open in the day for lunch and drinks, so we do get corporates and tourists who want an early tipple and to lounge around the Courtyard, busking in the tropical weather.

Guests can be assured that they will be fully taken care of by our stellar service staff and get the best dining and entertainment experience at our venue.

VLV was launched on September 2016. It sits on Clarke Quay like a regal Empress; a stunning heritage building with a 100-year-old history.

Q: How does VLV differentiate itself from other lifestyle establishments?

A: VLV is housed in Clarke Quay’s oldest building – a gorgeous heritage building that belonged to a Teochew merchant dating back to the 1880s. The building exterior is kept in its original state, but I have given the interior a modern and luxurious feel – sophisticated, lush, comfortable and always inviting. The VLV experience is a multi-sensory one. When guests step into the venue, they are greeted by a bespoke scent which I picked to set the mood for a deep sensual experience. The interior is filled with an abundance of different textile touch points for a lush feel to the space, the senses of the guests are engaged way before they try the cuisine or settle in the enjoy the entertainment.

In creating VLV, we have carefully curated a destination to put Singapore on the world-stage with a truly global lifestyle offering. I am inspired by similar multi-concept venues that are very well-established in other cities like London and Shanghai and VLV is looking to create a home-grown offering to put Singapore on the map.

Q: How do you adapt to the ever-changing food trends (e.g. healthier food options) at VLV?

A: Chinese food tends to fall on the wayside when food trends come to mind, and our culinary team headed by Executive Chef Martin Foo seeks to change this perception. At the VLV Restaurant, the dishes are truly authentically Chinese in flavour but incorporate modern cooking techniques and sourcing for quality non-traditional ingredients. All dishes are impeccably plated for a strongly visual impact when they arrive at the table.

For the signature VLV Peking Duck, we have our own take to it – housemade foie gras truffle sauce in addition to the usual sweet hoisin sauce, other ingredients like avocado and beancurd skin are the selection of condiments to bring out a different flavour in the duck. All ducks at VLV are sourced from a farm in Malaysia and are reared to Chef’s exact requirements to reduce the amount of fat in the duck to make for a healthier meal and also crisper skin on roasting. We do not offer the traditional Peking Duck second courses like other establishments, but instead guests can choose to have the rest of the duck meat done in 2 ways – Yangnyeom Duck with housemade kimchi, or Spicy Duck Cones. Its little touches like this that allows our cuisine to reach out to the younger diner and creates a trendy dining experience around traditional Chinese flavours.

Q: What trends do you see in the entertainment and lifestyle market, especially with the growth in luxury travel market?

A: Multi-concept venues! It’s a notable international trend and we are proud to offer an all-in-one luxury modern Chinese dining, entertainment and lifestyle concept to local shores.

Q: In terms of sales & marketing, how do you reach your audience, and what works? 

A: As a new business, we rely very heavily on public relations and editorial support. Especially for the restaurant business, nothing beats word of mouth within the foodie community to create awareness of our offering. Our in house team maintains a good working relationship with all media outlets to ensure our offerings are communicated in a timely manner. We also manage all hosting and tastings in-house, to ensure a consistent experience for media guests.

Our team also handles our own social media accounts, it is a great way to reach out directly to our consumers. We are also constantly on the look-out for partnership or direct marketing opportunities for the business.

Q: Where do you see the future of VLV? Any plans for overseas expansion?

A: 2017 will be a very exciting year for VLV, we will be expanding the brand globally into new regions and also new industries. We are very pleased with the great reception of our offering in Singapore and will be opening the second outlet for our current concept in Kuala Lumpur at the end of this year.

Q: Tell us about your Number 1 business challenge? 

A: In the current market, many businesses will share that talent sourcing and development is a huge challenge. Especially in a service driven industry like ours. It’s a continuous challenge to seek out employees with a good fit to the company who are able to share our vision and grow with us.

Q: What sparked your entrepreneurial journey in starting renowned lifestyle establishments?

A: When I am visiting major cities like London, Paris, Vegas, I feel a vibrancy in their destinations that goes beyond the food and beverage offering. There is a global trend for well-rounded lifestyle destinations that go beyond food and service, where a night out could be a quality meal and entertainment all in one venue. I felt this dynamic offering was somewhat missing in Singapore. This was the inspiration behind the roadmap for VLV to put Singapore on the global stage with a quality multi-concept experience.

My career has indeed spanned many different roles, but I feel a lot of the skill sets are transferrable, and my diverse experience lends me good stead in a lot of business related decision making processes.

Q: How has your experience in the marketing and media industry given you an edge in the lifestyle industry?

A: I joined the team at the then Ku De Ta in 2011 as the PR & Marketing, after 2 years as an Associate Editor in The New Paper. It was a global role where I set the roadmap for expansion of the brand to its numerous outposts in Bangkok, Hong Kong and even St Tropez. I was immediately hooked to the business aspects of the role. I felt like I had come full circle, in my mid 20s I set up 2 different PR agencies which I subsequently sold my stake in before returning to a management role in FJ Benjamin.

My career has indeed spanned many different roles, but I feel a lot of the skill sets are transferrable, and my diverse experience lends me good stead in a lot of business related decision making processes.

 Q: As a mumpreneur, what motivates you personally and how do you juggle business and family? 

A: My family is my biggest motivation. Seeing that the business is doing well keeps me going too. I’m always hungry and eager to achieve more with my team. Family-wise, I tend to start the day very early, to get my youngest daughter ready for school. Once I’ve dropped her off, I head to the office to get some work done. My afternoons are usually packed with meetings and dinners are usually an opportunity to network. I usually try to get home before my girls are asleep. Weekends are definitely family time as much as possible.

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