Born in Switzer­land, South­east Asia first cap­tured Yves Mudry's heart while study­ing. Asia Dreams talks to him about the re­gion, art and how he en­joys liv­ing in Jakarta.

Asia Dreams - - CONTENTS -

Our in­spi­ra­tional fig­ures this time are gen­eral man­agers Yves Mudry from Raf­fles Jakarta, Chris­tian Ger­art from The Sa­maya Bali and Sje­fke Jansen of Ho­tel In­done­sia Kempin­ski Jakarta.

Q: What made you choose hos­pi­tal­ity as a ca­reer?

A: It was re­ally a com­bi­na­tion of things. I greatly en­joy trav­el­ling and work­ing overseas gives you a very dif­fer­ent view from just hol­i­day­ing; you get very dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ences that mean you don't re­ally feel like you are away from home any­more. In ad­di­tion, my grand­fa­ther used to op­er­ate a ho­tel and we have the most pres­ti­gious hos­pi­tal­ity man­age­ment school in Switzer­land, so the idea came from that.

Q: What drew you to Asia?

A: Dur­ing your four years of study at the Lau­sanne hos­pi­tal­ity man­age­ment school you take three in­tern­ships, two in Switzer­land and one overseas. I chose Novo­tel Bukit Timah in Singapore. I loved it, al­though Singapore is re­ally the Switzer­land of Asia! From that time, I was ac­tively look­ing for a post in South­east Asia and was lucky enough to be on the pre-open­ing team of Le Meri­dien Nir­wana Golf & Spa Re­sort from 1997 for three years.

Q: That was a rel­a­tively re­mote lo­ca­tion back then. How did you en­joy it?

A: I landed at night and you couldn't see any­thing much on the drive to Tanah Lot and I was stunned to find that the ho­tel

was still pretty much a build­ing site. We built a very strong re­la­tion­ship with the lo­cal landown­ers and res­i­dents, a lot of whom were go­ing to be em­ployed by the ho­tel. There were no other lux­ury ho­tels in the area, so we had to do a lot of train­ing, but we be­came very in­volved in Ba­li­nese daily life with our trainees. I learned how to speak In­done­sian too as it was such an im­mer­sive ex­pe­ri­ence. It was a fas­ci­nat­ing time for me; the cul­ture is so dif­fer­ent from Switzer­land, so colour­ful, it awak­ens all your senses.

You can come across colour­ful rit­u­als un­ex­pect­edly as you drive around the is­land. A: Be­ing Swiss, I have al­ways liked the beauty of na­ture, but my ap­pre­ci­a­tion of art and de­sign has ma­tured and grown with ex­pe­ri­ence. I have worked with both Le Méri­dien and SO Sof­i­tel in the past and be­come in­volved in their art and de­sign con­cepts, but Raf­fles Jakarta takes things to a whole new level. The whole ho­tel was built and de­signed around the work of the late In­done­sian artist Hen­dra Gu­nawan;

it has so much per­son­al­ity and is a real oa­sis amid the bustling city. We have art ev­ery­where, from large mo­saics to beau­ti­ful sculp­tures and paint­ings, mak­ing this a vis­ually stun­ning prop­erty.

Q: Apart from the art, what makes Raf­fles Jakarta spe­cial in your opin­ion?

A: There are so many things! The

Raf­fles ex­pe­ri­ence is about dis­creetly per­son­al­is­ing guest stays with great at­ten­tion to de­tail so that they al­ways want to come back. Our but­ler ser­vice is leg­endary, but it's the en­gage­ment of all our col­leagues at ev­ery level and in ev­ery po­si­tion that re­ally make a dif­fer­ence. It's not enough to have stun­ning hard­ware; our col­leagues have to feel en­gaged and val­ued so that they can pass that feel­ing on to our guests. We have a lot of re­turn guests and those who love the Raf­fles brand. Raf­fles ho­tels al­ways have lots of sto­ries, some linked to the brand's

131 years of his­tory, some to the his­toric build­ings they are located in, like the Old War Of­fice in Lon­don, or the trib­ute to art like we have.

Q: How are you en­joy­ing Jakarta, both work-wise and per­son­ally?

A: I hadn't been to Jakarta for 17 years, since I left Bali and was amazed by the city's evo­lu­tion and its ma­tu­rity. Ho­tels in Jakarta are still pri­mar­ily busi­ness driven, but I think with the devel­op­ment of pub­lic trans­porta­tion and the great po­ten­tial still to be found in the city's his­toric ar­eas, there is a lot of room for the face of the city to change and for do­mes­tic and re­gional tourism to grow hugely. There is so much to see, but it's not al­ways easy to get there, or it's not well pro­moted.

As far as liv­ing goes, I find it very prac­ti­cal and user-friendly; the city isn't re­ally made for walk­ing around, but ev­ery­thing is in multi-use com­plexes. Here, we are at­tached to a mall, so we have re­tail, a cin­ema, bars and restau­rants, vir­tual golf, a health clinic, a theatre for shows. It's a mat­ter of adapt­ing; when you learn how to adapt to the city you live in, it be­comes much more en­joy­able. raf­


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