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Chief Op­er­at­ing Of­fi­cer Ac­corHo­tels Pa­cific

At 17, Si­mon McGrath wrote to all the top ho­tels in Syd­ney look­ing for a job, and landed one. He has worked his way up since then, and now over­sees more than 210 Aus­tralian ho­tels and more than 10,000 staff. ac­corho­tels.com

When did you start out in the travel in­dus­try?

At 17, my ca­reer started in the laun­dry of the Boule­vard Ho­tel in Syd­ney. It was hard work, but al­lowed me to learn all facets of the in­dus­try in an ac­cel­er­ated way by com­plet­ing a man­age­ment trainee­ship. Dur­ing this time, I ob­served and was in­trigued by the com­plex­i­ties and var­i­ous depart­ments that ho­tels of­fered. Upon com­plet­ing my trainee­ship, the doors opened up to so many op­por­tu­ni­ties, lead­ing me to a ca­reer in in­ter­na­tional ho­tels.

What is it you love about work­ing in the ho­tel in­dus­try?

Num­ber one – the hu­man el­e­ment.

It’s the most sat­is­fy­ing and the most com­plex. It’s the part that re­ally tests how good you are – the abil­ity to build hu­man re­la­tion­ships. Se­condly, to put it quite sim­ply, the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try is a very kind, car­ing and an en­joy­able sec­tor to work in.

What is it that sets Ac­corHo­tels apart? For over 25 years in Aus­tralia, our 10,000 em­ploy­ees demon­strate on a daily ba­sis our com­mit­ment to pro­vid­ing a warm wel­come and ex­cel­lent hos­pi­tal­ity for all our guests. Ac­corHo­tels is uniquely po­si­tioned in the Aus­tralian hos­pi­tal­ity mar­ket with a pres­ence in ev­ery state and ter­ri­tory and ev­ery mar­ket seg­ment from lux­ury to econ­omy to meet ev­ery trav­eller’s de­sires.

Do you have a favourite ho­tel in the group and if so, what makes it spe­cial? Choos­ing a favourite ho­tel would be like choos­ing a favourite child. The an­tic­i­pa­tion is build­ing for Syd­ney’s new­est jewel to ar­rive in Novem­ber

2017 with the open­ing of Sof­i­tel Syd­ney Dar­ling Har­bour – the first in­ter­na­tion­ally­branded lux­ury ho­tel to be de­vel­oped in the city in more than 15 years. It is shap­ing up to be a vi­brant and so­phis­ti­cated wa­ter­side ad­di­tion to the city.

What is your favourite city to visit and why?

When most peo­ple think of pas­sion­ate cities, you im­me­di­ately think of Paris and the French. From its myr­iad of fine art and, of course, cui­sine, it’s one of the most at­trac­tive and en­liven­ing cities in the world. We have some mag­nif­i­cent ho­tels there such as Ho­tel Moli­tor, Ho­tel Bastille Boutet and The Bal­ti­more, all part of the MGallery by Sof­i­tel col­lec­tion which cap­tures the spirit of Paris beau­ti­fully, and icons like the Arc de Tri­om­phe, Champs-Élysées, The Tro­cadero and the Eif­fel Tower are wait­ing out­side, mere blocks away.

You live in Syd­ney – which three places do you love show­ing off to in­ter­na­tional visi­tors?

You can’t beat a day on the wa­ter cruis­ing past Syd­ney Har­bour’s icons, a scenic flight over Palm Beach and the north­ern beaches, and of course tak­ing in the laid back, beach­side café cul­ture in my lo­cal sub­urb of Manly.

What are your favourite restau­rants to take guests to in Syd­ney?

As a big fan of Neil Perry, Rock­pool Bar & Grill and Spice Tem­ple are two con­sis­tent favourites, and Mr Wong would be my other top pick. For a pre-din­ner drink or night­cap, Ha­cienda Bar at Pull­man Quay Grand has in­cred­i­ble views to the Syd­ney Har­bour Bridge.

Which places in the world would you love to visit that you haven’t been to be­fore?

Canada is def­i­nitely on my wish list but it’s so vast, much like Aus­tralia, that it’s dif­fi­cult to know where to be­gin. Vis­it­ing Lake Louise and the Rocky Moun­tains dur­ing win­ter would be spec­tac­u­lar, as would ex­pe­ri­enc­ing an ice hockey match or the Cal­gary Stam­pede. Fol­low­ing Ac­corHo­tels’ re­cent ac­qui­si­tion with Fair­mont Raf­fles and Swis­sô­tel, I now have the per­fect ex­cuse to go and road-test our new ho­tels. The Fair­mont Banff Springs looks like a good place to start.

When not trav­el­ling for work, where do you like to go?

It’s re­ally spe­cial just to stay home with my fam­ily and re­lax. We love cook­ing, so on Sun­day nights we al­ways have a fam­ily din­ner.

What tips do you have for peo­ple start­ing out in the ho­tel in­dus­try?

It’s an un­be­liev­ably sat­is­fy­ing in­dus­try, and it’s be­com­ing more and more prom­i­nent as a key eco­nomic driver. Be con­sis­tent, work hard and don’t give up, be­cause when you break through it’s such a re­ward­ing in­dus­try to be a leader in.

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