FO­CUSED ON The De­tails

Asia Dreams talked to Gen­eral Man­ager Chris­tian Ger­art about his love of lux­ury hos­pi­tal­ity and drive to in­cor­po­rate In­done­sian touches into The Sa­maya Bali.

Asia Dreams - - INSPIRATION -

Q: What made you de­cide to get into hos­pi­tal­ity?

A:: Ac­tu­ally, it was my ca­reer counsellor who sug­gested it as I was good at lan­guages. I started out at a small re­sort in Ger­many and, apart from a six-month stint in the pearl cul­tur­ing in­dus­try, I have stuck with it. Af­ter do­ing mil­i­tary ser­vice, I found work on MS Europa on a round-the-world lux­ury cruise and it was this lux­ury side of the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try that fi­nally hooked me. The cruise lasted for seven months and we had to work very long days. I didn't re­new my con­tract, but in­stead found a job at a ho­tel in Wies­baden and started work­ing my way up the ranks.

Q: So what was it about lux­ury ser­vice that at­tracted you?

A: It's about host­ing and wel­com­ing af­flu­ent trav­ellers, see­ing how peo­ple en­joy the good things in life and work­ing out how to en­hance these in­di­vid­ual guest ex­pe­ri­ences. Small touches can make such a dif­fer­ence and, in my opin­ion, at the end of the day it's all about the per­sonal in­ter­ac­tion. Q: As you value the per­sonal con­nec­tion with guests, have you mainly worked in smaller prop­er­ties?

A: I've been work­ing in the in­dus­try for al­most 30 years now and many of the prop­er­ties I've worked at have been smaller – The Sa­maya Seminyak is villa-only with only 52 keys; an­other prop­erty I man­aged, The Anan­tara Phuket Vil­las in Thai­land, was also villa-only with 92 keys. I think this is a re­ally good size. I worked at The Cot­ton House Mus­tique, an ul­tra-lux­u­ri­ous re­sort with only 20 bed­rooms, but im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing

that I worked at The Hy­att Re­gency La Manga in Spain, a very large op­er­a­tion that had over 25 restau­rants and bars, three 18-hole golf cour­ses, 12 full-sized foot­ball pitches, three tennis courts, 200 rooms and around 150 apart­ments in a com­plex that had prob­a­bly 16,000 to 18,000 peo­ple go­ing through it in the sum­mer. De­spite the mam­moth size, I still tried to make sure that we es­tab­lished good con­nec­tions be­tween the guests and the man­age­ment.

Q: What made you choose some­thing so mas­sive af­ter work­ing in much more in­ti­mate set­tings?

A: I wanted to ex­pe­ri­ence an­other side of the busi­ness. My first di­rec­tor role was in food and bev­er­age in a pri­vately owned lifestyle re­sort, a five-star five-di­a­mond ho­tel with a three-miche­lin star chef; while it was a great ex­pe­ri­ence, I hadn't ex­pe­ri­enced work­ing in large prop­er­ties with mul­ti­ple out­lets and a cor­po­rate struc­ture. I found the large re­sort fas­ci­nat­ing, but it made me re­alise how much I ap­pre­ci­ate work­ing for smaller op­er­a­tions and hav­ing the op­por­tu­nity to in­te­grate with the lo­cal com­mu­nity and de­velop lo­cal staff.

Q: How are you en­joy­ing The Sa­maya? A: I've not been here very long yet, just a few months, but we have some fan­tas­tic tal­ent here who re­ally help make this a true lux­ury re­sort. We have a huge num­ber of re­peat guests, many of whom main­tain con­tact with our staff even when they are not in In­done­sia.

Q: How do you keep the re­sort fresh with­out dis­ap­point­ing re­peat guests who re­turn year af­ter year?

A: It's a mat­ter of bal­ance. I in­tend to cre­ate some ad­di­tional, dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ences for our guests and to in­crease our use of Ba­li­nese and In­done­sian touches, op­ti­mis­ing our in­te­gra­tion with the In­done­sian cul­ture. How­ever, main­tain­ing our ex­cel­lent re­la­tions with our guests, both on and off prop­erty is, of course, still key. The unique thing about our re­sort is that we are the only lux­ury villa re­sort in Seminyak with di­rect ac­cess to the beach. We of­fer an in­cred­i­bly serene en­vi­ron­ment lulled by the sound of the waves, but the mo­ment you step out of the front door, you are in the heart of Seminyak's trendy hus­tle and bus­tle and lifestyle. Not many ho­tels can of­fer that. I would love to draw more peo­ple who ap­pre­ci­ate this dual char­ac­ter, as well as at­tract­ing more In­done­sian tourists. That's my im­me­di­ate goal.

Q: This isn’t your first time in In­done­sia, what draws you back?

A: My fa­ther is In­done­sian, but I grew up mostly overseas so un­for­tu­nately I don't speak the lan­guage. Even so, it still feels like home to me. I'm very happy to be back in Bali, it's such a great is­land and has such a strong iden­tity for tourism. the­samaya­bali.com

CHRIS­TIAN GER­ART

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