Nardya Wray, Owner of Campbell House Penang

Nardya and her husband are a compatible team, working together in the hospitality industry, offering a truly unique experience in Penang for the hotel and restaurant.
What’s your story?
I am half Malaysian, half English and I have lived in London since I was 4. I returned to Penang 6 years ago with my husband after buying a building in heritage Georgetown in 2008 prior to UNESCO, we felt there was a niche to introduce the boutique style hotel to Penang and as my husband is Italian, opening an Italian restaurant lent itself to our business module. We refurbished the building within 10 months and have been operating for 5 years.

What excites you most about your industry?
I have been in the hospitality industry for over 20 years, in various guises. It’s not for everyone and you have to be dedicated, as it becomes part of your life. Having a small hotel is wonderful as we meet new people constantly and every day is different. Seeing the changes in the hospitality industry especially in the last 10 years is phenomenal. Restaurants, hotels, how you book, marketing ideas, trends, décor, there is always something new to learn which is so exciting.

What’s your connection to Asia?
My mother is from Kedah Alor Setar, I was born in Petaling Jaya Kuala Lumpur. We moved to the UK when I was 4, but always came for holidays to Malaysia regularly. My mother moved back to Penang 10 years ago due to ill health so we decided to have a life change and start a business.

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Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
This is our first business venture in Asia. Penang is a great island with lots of potential due to the diverse architecture and culture it offers from beach, heritage and the natural elements of tourism. Setting up a business was relatively easy but running a business has of course brought many challenges.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Never give up, persevere and have lots of patience! There is always a way to overcome a problem.

Who inspires you?
My husband Roberto Dreon; when he puts his mind to something he does it and never gives up. We have always worked together and have a great balance. He picks up on my weaknesses and vice versa. It’s reassuring to be able to rely on someone for all aspects of business and life!

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Recently we were awarded the World Luxury Award for the best bed and breakfast, we than realized it was a Global Award, which meant we received more than 5000 votes from our customers! We are always blown away by the support we receive from our guests.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would probably have taken my chances earlier and invested in more property.

How do you unwind?
Hiking is great, there are some wonderful trails in Penang. Connecting back with nature, breathing fresh air and just disconnecting with the hustle and bustle of the city is truly invigorating. I love yoga and cooking really helps me unwind.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
We went to Tiger Rock in Pangkor recently and it was wonderful. A fantastic setting, relaxing, quiet and best of all you, don’t have to think about where to go or what to eat it as the most imaginative and tasty cuisine just gets prepared and given to you, no thinking required!

Everyone in business should read this book:
Kitchen Confidential (Anthony Bourdain). If anyone thinks running a restaurant is easy read this book.

Shameless plug for your business:
Campbell House is a hotel that cares; we don’t just want guests to enjoy their stay, we want them to love their whole experience. That’s why we ensure we stay relevant to what’s happening so guests can make the most of their holidays, be it short or long, nothing is too much trouble if we can take the stress out of any guest’s stay we will.  We try to stay a step ahead of our competitors and think outside the box, we constantly train and encourage our staff to be empowered and introduce new ideas for the hotel and restaurant.

How can people connect with you?
Website –
Email –

Twitter handle?

This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:
CallumConnectsCallum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia.  He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries.  He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence.  A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.
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