a guest-fo­cused Leader

Swiss-born Hans Jo­erg Meier has had a life-long ca­reer in hos­pi­tal­ity and is now busy run­ning The Le­gian Seminyak, Bali and set­ting up the soon-to-open The Le­gian Sire, Lom­bok. Asia Dreams caught up with him amid his busy sched­ule to talk about his ca­reer

Asia Dreams - - INSPIRATION -

Q: You are COO of Le­gian Ho­tel Man­age­ment (LHM), what are your re­spon­si­bil­i­ties?

A: I am one of three part­ners in LHM, the oth­ers are Irma Djo­han, Part­ner – Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor and Ralf Oh­letz Count von Plet­ten­berg, Part­ner - Prod­uct and De­vel­op­ment; I take re­spon­si­bil­ity for the day-to-day run­ning of the busi­ness, as well as help­ing to run The Le­gian Seminyak, Bali.

Q: What made you de­cide to study ho­tel man­age­ment?

A: My grand­mother had a farm­house from which she ran a small restaurant and as a child I used to help her, so I took my fouryear ap­pren­tice­ship work­ing in ho­tels and restau­rants and loved it from day one. I pol­ished my French work­ing in one of the top ho­tels in Geneva, then worked on a lux­ury Cu­nard round-the-world cruise, which is what opened my eyes to the wider world. That was when I first vis­ited Asia and it cap­tured my heart. After that, I went to ho­tel man­age­ment school, but it was al­ways my in­ten­tion to work in Asia at some time.

Q: You have worked with some very pres­ti­gious brands through­out your ca­reer; was that a de­lib­er­ate strat­egy? A: It was re­ally a co­in­ci­dence to start with. While work­ing, I met the gen­eral man­ager of The Penin­sula Hong Kong and he of­fered me the op­por­tu­nity to work there and it was there that I re­ally learned what Asian hos­pi­tal­ity is all about, it is so much more than just the tech­niques I had learned in Switzer­land. I moved on to Raf­fles Sin­ga­pore and that ce­mented my pas­sion for great ho­tels that are all about the guests.

After some time, I moved back to Switzer­land, but soon re­alised that my heart was now in Asia and took up a po­si­tion with GHM, headed by Adrian Zecha and Hans Jenni, at The Datai Langkawi, later trans­fer­ring to The Le­gian Bali as gen­eral man­ager. I loved the ho­tel

de­sign and the con­cept and as it had only been open four years, there were things to fine tune. We opened the spa and The Club at The Le­gian and I ended up be­ing here for six years. After open­ing The Chedi Club, I was sent to The Se­tai in Miami, which was quite a shock after Asia. Even­tu­ally, we es­tab­lished an ex­change pro­gramme for 24 Ba­li­nese staff to come and work at the ho­tel's huge pool area, which had been de­signed by Jaya Ibrahim, and this big group com­pletely changed the am­bi­ence of the ho­tel.

Q: You’ve moved to LHM from COMO Ho­tels and Re­sorts where you over­saw 13 prop­er­ties in four con­ti­nents. This is a much smaller op­er­a­tion; what made you de­cide to take it on?

A: I have al­ways loved and re­spected

The Le­gian brand and the chance to join LHM as a part­ner/share­holder and build LHM along­side Irma Djo­han and Ralf Oh­letz Count von Plet­ten­berg is the kind of op­por­tu­nity that does not oc­cur of­ten in our in­dus­try. I had stayed in con­tact with the Djo­han fam­ily after I left The Le­gian Seminyak, Bali back in 2006, as well as with Ralf Oh­letz Count von Plet­ten­berg, who was one of the founders of GHM, which had man­aged The Le­gian Seminyak, Bali for many years. I en­joy be­ing in­volved in mak­ing key de­ci­sions with my part­ners, some­thing I had missed in my pre­vi­ous job and the plans for LHM'S de­vel­op­ment are very ex­cit­ing. We be­lieve there is great po­ten­tial to grow the brand not just in In­done­sia, but well be­yond. It's a big re­spon­si­bil­ity to roll out the brand and to in­spire peo­ple to visit other Le­gian ho­tels, as well as en­sur­ing that we have ev­ery­thing from the build­ings to the mind­set and our renowned ser­vice firmly in place.

Q: What are your plans and goals for The Le­gian Seminyak, Bali and LHM?

A: Our first pri­or­ity is to suc­cess­fully open and es­tab­lish The Le­gian Sire, Lom­bok and The Club at The Le­gian Sire, Lom­bok when the doors open in De­cem­ber. Soon after, we will start build­ing The Le­gian Res­i­dences Sire, Lom­bok; 15 lux­ury life­style res­i­dences lo­cated next to the ho­tel. Fur­ther, we are close to an­nounc­ing one or two ad­di­tional LHM prop­er­ties in In­done­sia. We don't in­tend to only op­er­ate in In­done­sia though, we have plans to bring the brand to other parts of Asia and be­yond, but all in time.

Both The Le­gian Seminyak, Bali and

The Club at The Le­gian Seminyak, Bali will un­dergo soft re­fur­bish­ments over the next two years, re­tain­ing the style and char­ac­ter­is­tics as they were both hand­crafted by the leg­endary Jaya

Ibrahim and the style and at­mos­phere are very much ap­pre­ci­ated by our pa­trons. We do, how­ever, plan to up­grade the tech­nol­ogy, ameni­ties and some fur­ni­ture pieces and fab­rics, but all from within the Jaya Ibrahim col­lec­tion. I would also like for The Le­gian Seminyak, Bali to be­come a sort of academy to grow new lead­ers who we can as­sign to fu­ture Le­gian ho­tels.

Q: What ad­vice do you have for peo­ple look­ing to build a ca­reer in hos­pi­tal­ity? A: Hos­pi­tal­ity is a com­mit­ment; you work through week­ends, hol­i­days and evenings. You have to en­joy the work and be pas­sion­ate about it, and you re­ally need to be a peo­ple per­son. If it is right for you, there are great op­por­tu­ni­ties to see the world and have a lot of fun while work­ing. lhm-ho­tels.com

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