APPOINTED General Manager of the 354-room Anantara Siam Bangkok in January 2016, Patrick Both oversees a staff of 640 employees, 120 of whom work in the kitchens.
Facilities open to non-guests include 15 banquet rooms, a ballroom that holds up to 550 people, various food and beverage outlets, a gym and a number of retail shops. Mr Both says he loves the diversity of hotel life but admits it sometimes has the feel of a “big factor”.
“The hotel is open 24 hours,” he says, which means he’s always on call should something come up that needs his attention.
Mr Both was born in Germany 41 years ago. “I started off working for Hilton where I did my apprenticeship and after that transferred to Langham Hospitality Group in London. Then I moved over to
Kempinski where I spent many years before joining Anantara. I have been with the company for nine years. I am now two and half years in Bangkok. Before that I was in Abu Dhabi. We are rotated around depending on where our skills are needed.”
Of all the places he’s worked, Mr Both said that London and Bangkok are probably his favorites, with Beijing and Shanghai not far behind.
“Anantara Siam is our flagship property in Southeast Asia. Before I was asked to come here I was at Anantara Qasr Al Sarab in Abu Dhabi, our flagship property in the Middle East. That was a great job, but when you get the opportunity to work in Bangkok you obviously are going to take it. My family and I were happy to move here.”
Asked about his daily routine, Mr Both said: “Unfortunately the first thing I do in the morning is look at my mobile phone because obviously e-mails are coming in the whole day. Then I normally go to the hotel gym, have breakfast and dress for work. I wear a suit most of the time. Years ago, I wouldn’t have thought that was possible, but you get used to it. I have around 10 suits. I have a very good tailor in Bangkok.
“I come down for work around 7.30am. I like to walk the floors first thing, see how breakfast is going and check on the banquet rooms, and so on. Next, I go through reports, like the revenue report, and check on arrivals of VIPs and groups coming in throughout the day. Basically, I am preparing for the day ahead, although most preparation is actually done by the day before. I look at things that may have gone wrong, handle complaints if there are any, and look at where we need to allocate resources to avoid problems.
“Then I normally go to a morning meeting attended by the directors of finance, food and beverages, rooms, engineering, human resources, the front office manager and all the managers of various departments. This happens every day.
“The nice thing about hotels is that diversity of the work. Obviously guest satisfaction is a high priority and this means talking to a lot of people. There are always a lot of projects to oversee and lots of sales and marketing angles to consider. In addition to the regular morning meeting I generally have other meetings scheduled with team members.”
Mr Both was eager to talk about the 19th World Gourmet Festival at Anantara Siam from September 3-9. The festival brings a stellar line-up of thirteen chefs from twelve Michelin-starred restaurants, placing the Thai capital at the center of the international culinary stage.
“Top chefs from Korea, Japan, the United States, Portugal and elsewhere will host two dinners each in the Biscotti, Madison, Spice Market or Shintaro restaurants,” said the GM. “Since its inception the World Gourmet Festival has grown in prominence to feature a line-up of some of the best chefs, winemakers and food experts from across the globe for a week-long celebration of outstanding food and superb wines.”
Enlarging on his usual daily routine, he says: “I personally welcome most of our VIP customers. These aren’t usually entertainment stars, dignitaries or presidents, but rather potential investors in Anantara projects, regular guests that come very often, people who are very much in the public eye or just clients who are very important to us for one reason or another.
“We host about 120 weddings in a year, as well as many seminars and conferences and social events like national day celebrations parties.
“Bangkok has always been one of the most competitive cities in Southeast Asia as far as the hotel business is concerned, and now with so many new five-star properties coming into the market the competition is obviously even more intense. You have pretty much every brand in the market here. There have always been always ‘price wars’ between hotels in Bangkok.
“In our meetings we compare prices of our competitors and we are constantly analyzing the market. There is a now a lot of business coming in from new market sectors, like the Chinese and online sales.”