Home' Hotel Management : HM OCTOBER 2016 Contents Tell us the path you've taken to your role and what are some tips you have
for GMs of the future?
AT: I always tried to challenge myself, and that was driven with an end-goal always in
mind. At 15 I decided I wanted to pursue a career in the hospitality industry, I wanted
to be a General Manager of a fabulous five-star hotel. That's exactly what I then set
out to do. So I studied first as a management trainee, and kept working towards this
goal, always taking constructive feedback to better myself and become a better General
Manager. I've now worked in three cities, two countries (Australia and South Korea) and
for the two biggest hotel operators in Australia, and am proud to be at the helm of the
newest, most exciting hotel brand to ever enter Australia, Ovolo. Some words of advice
are work hard, set goals, be patient, take on feedback, balance work and personal time
(well, at least try!) and love what you do. Full stop.
RB: My career with Hilton spans over 20 years. Originally from The Netherlands,
I have worked in several countries, all with diverse cultures. On completing Hotel
Management School, my career started in Food & Beverage at Hilton Amsterdam before
I embarked on an international journey which would transport me to Hilton Dubai
Jumeirah in the Middle East and Hilton Sharks Bay Resort, Egypt. South East Asia then
beckoned and we moved to Hilton Phuket Arcadia Resort & Spa in Thailand. A 2009
appointment as Director of Operations moved me 'Down Under' to the area's flagship
hotel, Hilton Sydney and in 2011, another promotion to the role as General Manager for
the new Hilton Chennai in India. However, I was very keen to return to Australasia and
commenced as Cluster General Manager for Hilton Auckland and Hilton Lake Taupo in
2013, based in Auckland.
I truly believe my chosen hospitality career has created a 'lifestyle' for my family and
me, not just a job. My word of wisdom in the management role as a General Manager:
create a positive vibe in your environment on a daily basis. I continue to challenge my
team members to ensure they are the best that they can be so that they strive to deliver
the ultimate customer experience and exceptional business results.
ML: I knew at the young age of six that I wanted to be a great chef in the best hotels
of the world. My father always cooked amazing meals at home and I was fortunate as
a child to spend much of my childhood traveling and staying in beautiful hotels. I have
two brothers who went through their training at Savoy in London. One remained in
the culinary arena owning fine award winning restaurants and the other became VP and
CEO of many of the world's leading hotel luxury brands. This fuelled me to want to
do well regardless of what it took. I joined the Berkeley Hotel in London at 16 years of
age and carried out an apprenticeship of hotel management through the London group
being Savoy, Claridges and The Connaught. I was fortunate enough to work with the
icons of the hospitality world where Escoffier honed his skills. Then through Michelin
star restaurants to looking after Nelson Mandela and
famous celebrities, enabled me to work in some of the
leading hotels in the world within the Orient Express
group as it was then. I always chose beautiful places to
work that were all about luxury and making it personal.
To this day I am fortunate to have that in my current
role. I came through the culinary side and went down
the F&B route and into regional luxury operational roles
through Africa, Europe and Australia where I met my
soul mate and best friend Renee. At the time she was
in the Blue Mountains Hotel School in Australia and
we continued then on an incredible journey of luxury
through Bangladesh luxury tented camps in Masai
Mara and several pre-opening and opening roles with
Starwood hotels through the Maldives, Seychelles then
to Fiji. I have a true passion for the development of
luxury properties, always wanting where I work to be the
best, so the team can be proud of their workplace.
The true personal levels of excellence that drove me in
the Savoy in my training years is what drives me today: to
keep real hospitality alive where the guest always comes first.
I have been on Vomo for 3.5-years with my amazing
family; my wife Renee and 3-year-old Lochie who
support me in all I do.
This has been the hardest and most gratifying role of
my career, having recently gone through an $18 million
refurbishment that was wiped out by TC Winston
whereby we incurred $17 million of destruction and had
to start all over again. I have an incredible team on Vomo
whom I enjoy working with day in day out and we will
continue to push the limits of personal luxury and lead in
For those aspiring GMs, always push the boundaries
and simply do the right thing as it takes the same amount
of effort to do something poorly as it does to do it well.
Nothing comes easy and hard work always pays off.
Get out of the office and talk to your guests as real
hospitality is all about the guest, not just the bottom line! n
Vomo Island Fiji
62 HM The Business of Accommodation
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