We had a chat with Sammy Carolus, GM of the soon-to-open Hyatt Regency Bangkok to get the low down on what it’s like to open a new hotel and what makes the hotel brand stand out to the MICE industry.
Q: This will be the very first Hyatt Regency in Bangkok. Do you feel any added pressure in being responsible for getting such a recognized brand off the ground in one of the world’s premier cities?
A: To be the fourth Hyatt and the first Hyatt Regency in Bangkok — which is the core Hyatt brand launched here — is going to be very exciting.
As with any new hotel — especially one in a city like Bangkok — all eyes will be on us to see how smoothly the city’s new ‘baby’ is going to be delivered, what it will look like, what kind of personality it will have, etc.
I feel almost like any expectant mother might feel — more internal pressure than external pressure at the moment.
Q: What are some of the things you’re focusing on right now to ensure the hotel opens in a smooth fashion?
A: People, people, people.
As we aim to be a caring and innovative hotel, it is important to hire people with those attributes as well.
It is not always easy to find that type of person — because of course they have to be readily available too — but we are definitely making progress.
Q: How would you describe your leadership style? How do you inspire your team?
A: I would like to think that I am a transformative leader, but I am still learning every day how to sort of adapt or harmonize to each situation.
It is important to lead by example.
I believe that if a leader can be empathetic — always — the results can be very dramatic.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: Never a dull moment!
Q: You’ve been with Hyatt Hotels for quite some time. Do you think that feeling valued is why you stay with the brand?
A: It is normal for Hyatt GMs and associates to stay within the company for quite some time as there is a certain DNA that brings us together.
I think it is a combination of respect, integrity, care, creativity, humility and appreciation for fun that makes me want to stay with Hyatt.
Q: You’re from Indonesia, but you’ve lived in Thailand for years. What is about Thailand that makes you want to stay?
A: Both Thailand and Indonesia are very unique and diverse countries.
I have lived in Thailand on and off now for 13 years.
I’ve been lucky enough to have great opportunities here, and I just think it’s a great country to live in.
Q: There are SO many luxury hotels in Bangkok now. It’s a highly competitive market. Why should a traveller choose Hyatt Regency Bangkok Sukhumvit?
A: Several reasons.
First, it is one of the very few hotels in Bangkok connected to the BTS SkyTrain (Nana station).
Second, its entrance is very refreshing.
It’s been designed to include lush, landscaped gardens and a water feature.
Third, the hotel features a lot of outdoor space, which makes for a real urban oasis.
Fourth, our meeting/event rooms offer a lot of natural light; they’re not dark and dungeonous.
Fifth, all guest rooms are spacious and airy and have semi-open bathrooms.
Sixth, there is nothing in Bangkok like our multi-purpose venue and tapas bar on the 29th floor, which has got tons of outdoor and indoor space for private events, parties or product launches.
And lastly, we’ve got a unique, two-level rooftop bar, where guests can find cosy spots to lounge in and a dedicated DJ booth — perfect for a night out with friends or colleagues.
Q: What’s something that travellers may not know about this particular area?
A: The history of this area.
Most people only know the Nana neighbourhood for its nightlife, but it offers so much more, as it began really as a multicultural marketplace.
You can find some of the best and most diverse street markets and street food in the world here.
In fact, Little Korea, Little Arabia and Little India are all located in Nana.
It’s also a place that is home to the Presbyterian Wattana Church, which was built almost 100 years ago.
And it’s where you can find Phufa Shop, a must-visit arts and crafts store subsidized by H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.
It’s on the corner of Sukhumvit Soi 7.
Q: Beyond having 100% occupancy every night of the year(!), what’s your ultimate goal here? What would a successful tenure look like for you, say, 5 years from now?
A: Our higher purpose is to make the world a better place to live.
We do that by ensuring we extend great care and attention to our guests, customers, associates and surrounding communities.
Q: What is the biggest lesson you have learned over the years? How have you evolved as a general manager?
A: It is easy for a GM to be authoritarian, but listening to and respecting your team members goes so much further.
Q: What’s changed most about the hotel business over the course of your career?
A: Digital speed, and human patience.
While the pace of digital is so much faster than years ago, people have become less and less patient.
Q: Is there anything this hotel will have that maybe you’ve never seen before?
A: Due to the design of the hotel, it will offer an inordinate amount of natural light, and you’ll be able to notice it and feel it from anywhere in the building.
And from the lobby all the way up to the rooftop, we’ve got all these wonderful outdoor spaces, which you just don’t get at most city hotels these days.