I’m Andrew Turner and I’m from a place just outside of Sydney Australia called Hunter Valley. Due to the fact I was sent away to school in Sydney, from a young age, I pretty much call Sydney home. Upon leaving school I studied hotel management. I studied hotel management for 3 years and once I had graduated I joined the Ritz Carlton Group, whom I worked with for around 14 years. I was based in Australia for 5 years and then travelled through the USA.
I then moved on to China and Doha, Egypt and Ireland. Moving to Ireland was a great experience for me and after being based there for about three and a half years felt I wanted to come back to South East Asia and be nearer to home. The growth of Anantara really appealed to me and here we are today, in beautiful Phuket.
WHERE WERE YOU EDUCATED IN HOTEL MANAGEMENT?
I was educated at Southern Cross, which is a hotel school based in Sydney. Here I studied the British City and Guilds course which was 3 year course and once I graduated from there I want straight to working in hotels. When I first started working I went in as a bell captain, so I was basically responsible for parking people’s cars and carrying
their bags. I actually really enjoyed it and I was lucky because I think a bellman gets to see parts of a hotel that maybe other people don’t get to see. You are never out of place as a bellman, you can be found anywhere in the resort but still get away with it. When I was in hotel school I majored in Room division, as part of the program i worked in the housekeeping department, so I would be cleaning 13 rooms a day.
This was great grounding for me as you really appreciate what the employees go through everyday to take care of
the customer and you can understand a lot about the business at the ground level. It made me realise this is the heart and soul of the business.
This is a very special resort, it is very intimate. The villa concept we have is very exclusive, other resorts may offer
villas but they are only a component to their resort, where as we are purely villas. I think we are able to offer a service
which is very personal, intimate and private. We are able to customize the service to what the guest is looking for and I
think this is important in today’s market. When you speak to customers they want to do what they want to do. What we offer here is a garden walled villa with its own pool, beautiful bedroom and bathroom which opens out onto the pool. If
people want to eat in their villa’s we can make a BBQ for them in the grounds of their villa and we offer full room service facilities when it comes to dining. We have some guests that once they are in their villa, never want to come out.
WHAT IS THE FAVOURITE ASPECT OF YOUR JOB AND WHY?
I love dealing with people, not only the guests that stay with us, but also the employees. I think it is one thing to build a beautiful resort but to bring a building to life you need to put the heart and soul into it and that’s in the form of well trained and caring employees. I enjoy coming to work every day and helping someone, either guests or an associate. I often say to my team when you go home at night to reflect on the day ask yourself who you helped today. I think this will help them grow and improve themselves just that little bit more and that’s what I really get a kick out of. Also I
thoroughly enjoy when a guest checks out and tells me it was the best experience they’ve ever had. Often it’s about the employees they have come into contact with. Guests often comment about how beautiful our resort is but generally
speaking most people have had an interaction or experience with a member of staff and that’s what they are going to remember. Six or twelve months down the line they may not remember what colour the curtains were in their villa, but I can pretty much assure you they will remember what their dining experience was like in the restaurant, because of an interaction with an employee. They will always live with that memory.
I think it’s about creating a story and when people leave they feel that they have made a connection with you. Not just connection with you but a connection with Anantara. Then if they are thinking of booking another holiday, hopefully they will automatically think of Anantara, no matter where they are going I hope they will look and see if there is an Anantara resort and go to a place where there is, specifically because they have previously experienced the Anantara service. That’s what drives me everyday making sure those customers becomes loyal to our brand.
I think in any business it revolves around people. I think we have to keep innovating our business levels; I really try to
put us in a position where we can control the decisions and not be forced to make decisions. Also by looking at market
trends, making sure we are living up to the expectations of our guests on a daily basis, or actually on an hourly basis.
It really is one of those things you really have to push by the minute and strive for excellence every day. I also want to
keep the team around me motivated to want to come to work everyday. What’s important to me is generally having
an environment where the staff wakes up every morning and they come to work not because they have to but because
they want to. I like to give my staff, from the bottom level, the power to make decisions for themselves; I really think
that helps their morale to want to come to work.
IN YOUR OPINION WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO MAKE A GOOD RESORT/HOTEL GM?
You really need to have an equal balance of work and play and you need to be very passionate about what you do. It’s
a pretty time taxing industry I work in and you don’t know what is coming around the corner. You need to be able to
drive the business at the top end and also make sure that the employees are motivated and engaged. I think that in our business over the last 10 or 15 years things have somewhat changed in regards to how work gets done and by empowering all levels of staff. The team want to be respected and involved. I personally think that’s what sets
a good foundation for any business.
IS THERE ANY ASPECT OF YOUR JOB YOU WOULD LIKE TO CHANGE?
As I said before, it is a time taxing business, but one thing I have seen change over the years is that originally the
managers had to be seen to be in the office at 7 o’clock in the morning and stay there until 8 o’clock at night,
because the boss was there.
It still is that type of business because it starts early and finishes late, but as a GM I work to get great people around me and getting the right balance between work and play really helps with this. People are always more effective when they have been able to spend time with their families or doing a hobby they like to do or whatever it may be that you enjoy to do. So I always try to get people to get the right balance but still making sure that everybody’s responsibilities are done and our guests and associates are well cared for.