“I Love to Explore the World”
Simon Morley GM Holiday Inn Resort Mai Khao Beach
I have worked in the hospitality industry for a little over 20 years. Early in my career I worked in various hotels and night clubs in Hawaii, Guam, and Australia, then in 2001 I joined InterContinental Hotel Group as a Front Office Manager at InterContinental Resort Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. A few years later I transferred as Revenue Manager of the Crowne Plaza Hotel Dubai. Since then, I have moved across regions, working in Melbourne, Australia as a Cluster Revenue Manager, and in Seoul, South Korea, joining Grand InterContinental Hotel Seoul as an Executive Assistant Manager. After which, I returned to the Middle East region as a Resident Manager at Al Bustan Palace InterContinental Muscat, Oman.
Prior to working in my current position, I was the General Manager at Holiday Inn Clark, Pampanga, Philippines. Today I am very fortunate and proud to be the General Manager at Holiday Inn Resort Phuket Mai Khao Beach where I have just celebrated my 10th anniversary with IHG and opened this fabulous resort on September 9th.
2. What is your educational background?
I graduated from the University of Hawaii, Honolulu, USA with a Bachelors Degree in Hotel Management.
3. Why did you decide to join the hotel and tourism sector?
The reason for this was due to my enjoyment of travel and working with people. Most hotel and tourism sectors have to be managed by people not machines. Everyday is different; it is a challenge for me to learn and service different people every day from all over the world and to work with very exciting team members. In addition, I love to explore the world and consider myself very nomadic, therefore working in international hotels matches with my personality. That’s why I love it and have worked in this industry for over 20 years.
4. Can you tell us about the new resort here in Mai Khao?
Holiday Inn Resort Phuket, Mai Khao Beach is a midscale international brand hotel along the northwest coast of Phuket. The 246 room, new-build property caters to all types of travelers — from couples on a romantic getaway to families seeking the perfect holiday, or even professionals on a corporate retreat. The resort’s rooms each feature the latest in hospitality technology such as LCD flat-screen TVs connected to DVD players and I-pod docking stations. The property also offers free wireless Internet in the rooms and throughout the resort; while i-Pads are available for guests’ use. In addition, the resort has a range of family-friendly facilities and services such as KidSuites®, Family Suite, Teen Zone and Kid’s Club. The brand’s signature Kids Stay and Eat Free feature makes family vacations truly enjoyable and affordable. This programme allows up to two children under 18 years old to stay free when sharing a room with up to two adults. Children under 12 enjoy complimentary breakfast; and free lunch and dinner from the children’s menu when accompanied by an adult who takes at least one main course.
In addition, we are located less than 10km from the airport and only a short travel time to other tourist beaches.
5. How will you promote the new resort?
We would like to promote this resort as a resort that caters to all types of travelers – from couples on a romantic getaway to families seeking the perfect holiday, or even professionals on a corporate retreat.
We have promoted through various channels both online and off-line. Being a hotel under InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) and the Holiday Inn brand are advantageous and a strength for being the world’s largest hotel group by number of rooms and the most widely recognised hotel brand in the world.
In addition, we have built good relationship with both leading hotel wholesalers and retailers and have been attending many road shows in order to create awareness of the new resort and generate more bookings.
6. How do you compete with other resorts that are already established within the area?
Our resort is different from other resorts within Mai Khao, Phuket. By having Holiday Inn heritage, the resort has a range of family-friendly facilities and services such as KidSuites®, Family Suite, Teen Zone, Kids Club, with an array of entertaining activities where younger kids can have fun under the watch of professional care takers. Our hotel services and operations are specifically designed with conservation of natural resources in mind. We have an efficient water-recycling system and an intuitive energy-saving system. There are no motorised vehicles in the resort, which helps maintain clean air and quiet surroundings, and provides our guests with a truly relaxing environment.
Additionally, we believe in “Holiday Inn Stay Real” service culture, allowing guests to be as comfortable and relaxed as they can be, so they can “Stay You”, which is new refreshed brand of Holiday Inn Group – and be themselves no matter who they are.
All of these mean we differentiate our service not only a range of family-friendly facilities, conservation of natural resources in mind but also believe in our Holiday Inn service culture that reflects to all service provide to our guests.
7. How do you go about recruiting the necessary staff for the new resort?
Recruiting the right team is very important, but being in Thailand ticks the first box because hospitality is in the heart of Thai’s. Having the hospitality spirit is something that cannot be trained so I am very thankful that I have this as a base. Next we are looking for team members with energy and enthusiasm and who care, not only for guests, but their fellow team members too. Then we are looking for people who want to grow, want to be developed and are looking forward to the experience of opening a new resort!
8. In your opinion, what makes a good resort GM?
Working in a resort poses a lot of additional challenges because the guests are often coming here for an experience not just for themselves but their families. They are trying to escape from their work, the daily routine and come to a place where they can let go, relax, and be taken care off. This requires a lot of attention to detail by the resort team and I work closely with them to ensure all touch points for the guest are covered. You cannot sit in your office all day in a resort and need to spend considerable time in the resort both with the guests and the team.
9. What is the most/least enjoyable aspect of your job?
The most enjoyable aspect of my job is the complete satisfaction of hearing guests tell me about their great experience in the resort and most of all their praise for the team. To hear a guest talking about how a team member treated them and how they will go home and tell all their friends and family about the resort is so satisfying. Very difficult to say what is least enjoyable, but I guess I would have to say the long hours keeps me away more than I like from my wife and children. Working in resorts in not 9 to 5, so this is a sacrifice you have to make, but make the most of the time you do have.
10. What is your main aim for the resort upon its opening?
We look forward to welcoming our new guests from all over the world to our wonderful resort and let them experience the many services and facilities we have to offer. We will continue our strong training and development programs for our team members and establish long lasting community and environmental programs.