Mary Gostelow’s amazing virtual experiences in Mongolia

Kempinski Hotel Khan Palace GM devises plan to bring Mongolian villages to the world

Want to learn Mongolian cooking or how to make a bow and arrow and then use them? Want to talk to Mongolian herders with a translator on the ground? Now, you can do it from the comfort of your Victoria verandah or wherever else you live. Dirk Bansemer, GM of Kempinski Hotel Khan Palace in Ulan Baator, has been arranging unique virtual experiences for those staying safe at home.

Mongolia went into lockdown from 24 February and this intrepid German, like so many of his colleagues globally, had a bit of spare time on his hands. He was out horseback riding with the local representative of Germany’s cultural trade mission, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ). They hatched a plan to introduce Mongolia to a wider world via unique marketing at barely any financial outlay.

GIZ provided a Toyota Land Cruiser and VW Touareg and drove Bansemer and colleagues 300 kilometres to Dulaan Khan Village, in Selenge Province. The hotel’s team included its IT director and one of the signature Kempinski lobby hostesses (a lady in red), who took along her scarlet outfit for the actual streaming.

Mongolian villages consist of portable ger or yurt, felt-covered circular tents about 15 metres in diameter; as weather and animal migration demand, they can easily be moved. Dulaan Khan Village has nine such gers. One was given over for this project to Kempinski’s male team, another to ladies from the hotel and GIZ. Baggage included lots of tech equipment, plus a generator and a solar panel to supplement the village’s own power, which they correctly expected to be somewhat inconsistent.

For the first sessions, about 280 tuned in from all over the world. There were seven sessions, each 15-45 minutes long and all interactive. Kempinski’s corporate commercial director Amanda Elder has since widely shared how she was ‘chatting’ with a septuagenarian male, as he prepared such popular local Mongolian dishes as khorkhog, bits of lamb still on the bone cooked with onions over hot stones. The ‘Lady in Red’ translated throughout: all customer-facing employees at the 99-room hotel, currently housing diplomats and others stranded by closed borders, speak good English.

GM Dirk Bansemer is currently supporting, in 2021, a 10-week horseback expedition covering 3,000 kilometres from east to west of Mongolia, benefitting Misheel Kids Foundation

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