The Pur­suit for pas­sion

The Gen­eral Man­ager of The Seminyak Beach Re­sort & Spa Michael Luible started with a twist of plan be­fore he made a break in the hospi­tal­ity in­dus­try, which later took him all around Europe and Asia. He has never looked back and he’s here to tell his stor

Asia Dreams - - INSPIRATION -

Q: Can you tell me how you first de­vel­oped a pas­sion to work in the hospi­tal­ity in­dus­try?

A: I ac­tu­ally wanted to be a plas­tic sur­geon. Af­ter I got my bachelor's de­gree in Mu­nich, I rented a Vespa scooter and went to the south of France, to St. Tropez, Cannes, Nice, Monte Carlo, but I couldn't af­ford to stay at the nice ho­tels, so I al­ways stayed on the beach, slept in a sleep­ing bag, bring­ing a camp­ing cooker with a friend, for about a month and a half in the south of France, the most ex­pen­sive place. But in or­der to go to the bath­room, I would dress up in a nice shirt, and go to a glam­orous ho­tel like The Carl­ton in Cannes. And I al­ways came in from a dif­fer­ent en­trance, be­cause I didn't want the concierge to know I'd come from the beach.

From the bath­room I could hear the piano mu­sic from out­side. It was a time when you were still al­lowed to smoke cigars in the lobby, there was a big stair­case com­ing down to the lobby, Grace Kelly and all the ac­tors used to come down be­cause they had the Cannes Film Fes­ti­val. I just loved the at­mos­phere, and I loved grand ho­tel lob­bies. I thought, this is the place, this is my stage. I want to be­come a hote­lier. From this mo­ment I changed my en­tire life prob­a­bly, and I think it was the right choice.

Q: How did you get your big break in the in­dus­try?

A: There was an ap­pren­tice­ship, where you worked and once a week you had to go to school to learn the tech­ni­cal things. I did the ap­pren­tice­ship for two years, and it opened the doors to multi­na­tional com­pa­nies, and got me into Hil­ton In­ter­na­tional.

I worked for Hil­ton in Ger­many, and worked my way up from be­ing a waiter to restau­rant man­ager – it was very

glam­orous, I made a lot of tips, I bought my first Mercedes, and the last one ac­tu­ally [laugh].

Ev­ery­thing was per­fect, but I thought it was too early for me to set­tle down, I wanted to travel, so I had a very im­por­tant men­tor, he was a GM at this ho­tel in Mu­nich who said he would go to Paris. Af­ter two years in the Mu­nich Hil­ton I said to my man­ager that I wanted to move to Paris and join the com­pany there. He in­tro­duced me to the ho­tel's pre­vi­ous GM who moved to Paris, sent my CV for a trainee pro­gramme, but I thought send­ing a CV wasn't ac­tu­ally rocket-proof, so I took two days' leave and my car and drove from Mu­nich to the French bor­der, changed into a suit, shaved in the truck driv­ers' bath­room, and at 9am I was there. ‘I'm Michael, we spoke yes­ter­day, you said there was a job op­por­tu­nity?', he was so im­pressed be­cause I drove for 12 hours to come all the way there. He said he needed me to start im­me­di­ately, so I went back to Mu­nich, sold my car and moved to Paris.

To be young and liv­ing in Paris was very spe­cial, the prob­lem is the peo­ple there don't speak many lan­guages other than French. I couldn't go back to the restau­rant, I had to work as a dish­washer, which be­came the big­gest mo­ti­va­tion for me to learn French. In the morn­ing I stud­ied French, in the evening I worked, some­times at night I played the gui­tar to make some pocket money. It was a change from my time in Mu­nich, but I think it was the right de­ci­sion, be­cause I think it's al­ways good in our busi­ness to be mo­ti­vated. Q: What are the most mem­o­rable mo­ments in your ca­reer?

A: Open­ing One&only Reethi Rah Re­sort, to see this grow­ing – con­sid­er­ing all the chal­lenges, like the tsunami, we had to start all over again, and see­ing the first guests com­ing in – that was re­mark­able. I also once hosted Prince Al­bert of Monaco's birth­day party on a re­mote sand­bank, and there was noth­ing on it. We had to bring gen­er­a­tors, a sound sys­tem and thou­sands of can­dles, there were all these su­per yachts com­ing, so you can imag­ine the who's who in the guest list there. To do this in the mid­dle of nowhere was re­mark­able.

Q: In your opin­ion, what traits are needed to be a hote­lier?

A: You have to be pas­sion­ate in what you

do, have per­se­ver­ance, be able to make sac­ri­fices and be able to move. You're like an am­bas­sador, you have to travel, see dif­fer­ent cul­tures in dif­fer­ent coun­tries. And you have to work hard. Be­ing a gen­eral man­ager for a re­sort is dif­fer­ent from be­ing GM for a city ho­tel, in a re­sort you have to know your guests, you in­ter­act more with them be­cause you're a host.

It's also im­por­tant to open your mind, broaden your hori­zon and be flex­i­ble.

Q: For those who aren't fa­mil­iar with Bali, can you ex­plain more about The Seminyak Beach Re­sort & Spa?

A: Bali obviously has dif­fer­ent des­ti­na­tions, you have the Nusa Dua ex­pe­ri­ence, Ubud, Kuta and more. Be­fore peo­ple come to Bali they need to know what kind of ex­pe­ri­ence they need. If you want to see the best res­tau­rants in town, then obviously Seminyak is a very hip place. We're lo­cated in this vi­brant en­vi­ron­ment, but when you come into The Seminyak, it's like an oa­sis. We're lucky we have all this green­ery. I'm for­tu­nate be­cause the owner is re­ally vi­sion­ary in terms of how we need to main­tain the green­ery to keep the re­sort vibe in the mid­dle of a bustling ur­banised en­vi­ron­ment. Look at that view, we have the best beach, we have spec­tac­u­lar sun­sets, and if you want, you can go to the finest res­tau­rants in Bali within five min­utes. We have the vil­las, which are di­rectly fac­ing the beach and the ocean.

Q: What is the fu­ture for the Bali hospi­tal­ity in­dus­try?

A: I hope some of the in­dus­try's voices are heard, be­cause there are re­ally good ones but it seems like no­body lis­tens to them. The mora­to­rium on new ho­tels, I think there's only so much load that

Bali can take. With all the added rooms, you need more tourists to fill them, and I fear Bali might change from a qual­ity des­ti­na­tion to a quan­tity-driven one, and lose its charm. In­done­sia has 17,000 is­lands, beau­ti­ful is­lands, and I hope the other des­ti­na­tions will be de­vel­oped to dis­trib­ute the tourists com­ing in to In­done­sia. Lots of peo­ple come to Bali for the cul­ture, the peo­ple, and these days tourists don't get to those cul­tural as­pects be­cause of the traf­fic jams. Driv­ing from the air­port all through the high­way, you don't want to see bill­boards that sell ev­ery­thing else but Bali. the­

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