First, tell us about your professional experience and history.
I grew up in San Francisco, California and graduated with a degree in organizational leadership from Arizona State University. I have been in the hospitality sector for three decades and have had a fantastic 24-year career with The Ritz-Carlton brand, working at every level from F&B manager all the way up to multi-property vice-president.
Before taking up my role as general manager of The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong in June this year, I oversaw the development of multiple properties for Marriott International in Xiamen, Changsha, Nanning and Sanya, along with the development of new hotel openings across Hainan and China mainland, in addition to my tenure as general manager of The Ritz-Carlton Sanya, Yalong Bay. Prior to that I had a fantastic seven years in the Middle East overseeing The Ritz-Carlton properties.
No matter where I am, I insist to dedicate myself to the pursuit of public welfare, child wellbeing, and environmental protection.
In this respect, the implementation of the “Dundun Bear Million Charity Sale” stands as one of my contributions to the hotel’s Community Footprints program. The campaign is dedicated to raising one million Chinese Yuan, with all proceeds to help fund Sanya Bright Connection, providing sound rehabilitation therapy training and educational resources for more poor families with cerebral palsy and autistic children.
Since the launch of the campaign in 2016, The Ritz-Carlton Sanya, Yalong already accumulated more than two hundred thousand Chinese Yuan of donations to Sanya Bright Connection, providing funding, resources and utilities to help promote the wellbeing of the children.
Can you give us an overview of The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong?
The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong is a beacon of luxury in the city's financial and retail center. It is located in Shanghai IFC, the prime real estate in Lujiazui financial and entertainment center, and is the masterpiece of world-famous architect designer, Cesar Pelli. From its Art Deco-inspired architecture and design to its exquisite views of the historic Bund, every detail combines to create a vibrant, cosmopolitan haven, inspiring nostalgic moments in modern Shanghai.
I have travelled extensively in my career and I can honestly say that The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong is one of the most fascinating hotels in the world. We have everything from yoga in the sky to a Mikomoto Pearls afternoon tea to the most intact collection of Art Deco architecture anywhere in the world. Our sky bar was recently named by Forbes in its prestigious list of The World’s Best Hotel Sky Bars, while in 2018 the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards named us the number one hotel in China. We have so much to be proud of.
What features make the hotel attractive to GCC travelers?
Luxury and family are two very important touchpoints for GCC travelers, and I believe we have an unmatched ability to provide an ultra-luxurious experience of Shanghai that combines world-class shopping, F&B, leisure and amenities targeted at the discerning Arab family.
It is not only our property itself, but the experience of Shanghai we can offer, with details like Harmony Suites, the world’s fastest train, Rolls-Royce chauffeuring, Disneyland Shanghai and ifc Mall all combining with our world-class suite offering to create some truly indelible marks.
Any new initiatives aimed at attracting GCC guests?
We are focused on continually reinventing our products and services by bringing personal attention to each guest in every possible way in order to create more exceptional Ritz-Carlton experiences. With that in mind we have launched luxury suite packages for GCC travelers. They include complimentary Arabian welcome amenities and family experiences such as Disneyland tickets and VIP park tours, Oriental Pearl Tower elite tours and a Huangpu river cruise.
Why is there an increasing number of GCC tourists travelling to China?
GCC travelers have a special affinity with Asia and their family holidays tend to be in places like Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and even Japan and Korea, but China remains mostly unexplored for them, so there is a big opportunity for exploration and new experiences and we are starting to see that take effect.
The stronger political and commercial ties between the GCC and China also have a knock-on effect and that increases interest in the country. Last year we saw the historic visit of President Xi Jinping to the UAE where multiple deals were agreed in the fields of energy and security, and UAE nationals can now get a visa on arrival in China, so it is becoming a more viable prospect for them.