Janet McNab was appointed Area General Manager, South Thailand; and General Manager of The Westin Siray Bay Resort & Spa, Phuket in June 2013. Janet has brought with her a wealth of knowledge and professional experience which she has gained at various Starwood Hotels & Resorts over a 25 year period.
Phuketindex.com recently managed to get Janet to take a break from her busy daily schedule and tell us more about her and Westin Siray Bay Resort & Spa, Phuket.
Please could you introduce yourself and tell us about your background?
My parents immigrated to Australia from Italy in 1957, so I’m Australian born but of Italian decent. It was actually a strange upbringing for me growing up in Brisbane, my parents didn’t speak English so I was Italian when I was at home, but as soon as I left the house I became Australian as obviously none of my friends didn’t speak Italian. However, it was great experience because I was raised with a completely different culture from the country in which I lived.
How would you describe your management style?
I think people who know me well would say that I’m firm but fair. However, before I left my previous role to join Westin Siray Bay, I asked my department heads to answer 3 questions about me; what they thought about me, what they thought I could do better, and what they would recommend my new team. From the replies I received there was an overriding theme that to work with me you need to have a sense of humour, you need to be honest, and that if you make a mistake you should tell me about it, one of my pet hates is when people try to hide something from me. This is something which I brought with me and presented to my new team so people could know me for what I am and not jump to conclusions without knowing me.
What are your main priorities here at Westin Siray Bay?
First and foremost it’s my people, I want to develop my people and build team of core members that are going to want to stay working with me here. I also have to look at the business here and make sure we’re delivering what the owners and customers want.
How do you define success in your job?
My personal goalpost is financial success, I’m very goal driven so I want to make sure all targets are reached. I don’t really care if we’re not the best hotel in the Starwood Group, or the best hotel in Phuket, I just want us to be the way we are supposed to be. I also want to be able to look into the development of our people, people won’t remember me for profit margins, they will remember me for how I have developed the team, which for me is a very rewarding.
What differentiates your property from others in the region?
First and foremost, we’re in an area where there aren’t really any other properties, so we can’t be compared to other properties like would be the case if we were in Patong or another main tourist area. We are unique in that we’re in an area which is still very natural and undeveloped; we’re very close to the charming Phuket Town, every room here offers a fantastic view, and many have their own pool. It’s a nice relaxing environmental area to be in; it’s safe, very family friendly and definitely has a place in its market.
What motivates you in your job?
In this particular property there is so much work to do and I’m challenged by it. I can walk around here and get so excited about the amount of things we can do. I also like the fact it’s not an easy property to manage, there are a lot of beautiful differentiators about this property that make it so special and which make it such a great challenge for me.
Which travellers are your main targets?
We have a very strong group mix, and by that I mean we have a very good MICE customer base, and we also have those seeking high leisure, and within this group our top markets are Japan, Korea, Thai, and Australia.
What are the main challenges you face here?
One of the main challenges is the hotel’s utilities and infrastructure, being built on the side of a mountain doesn’t make it easy to get water and electricity here, but those kinds of issues are out of my hands. The upkeep of the buildings themselves is also a challenge, due to our climate and the fact the property is sea facing means a lot of work has to go into keeping it in reasonable shape. Furthermore, Phuket is a competitive market and we have to fight along with everybody else for our market share and also to keep our associates.
How are occupancy levels and forward bookings?
September was a little slower than we had expected; we run at 72% but expected 76%, but this is quite common on the island. But moving forward, our bookings for October, November & December are very strong, we see the PACE as being strong and we are quite confident about our position, but you can never take your eye off the ball!
When you visit other hotels what do you observe/judge?
I’m never one to complain because I understand how hard it is to run a hotel, if things don’t go right I’m not bothered by it. I recently went on a 10 day holiday and where I went had 4 or 5 Starwood hotels and I chose not to stay in any of our hotels because you can’t stop looking and comparing things to your own hotel. However, saying that, it is always good to visit other hotels because it can always help you stimulate ideas.
What’s your motto in life?
One thing that I’ve always said is “Every effort earns success”, I’m a firm believer that nothing is ever given to you, you have to work for it!
What do you hope to accomplish in your time at Westin Siray Bay?
I would like to get this hotel to a level where it’s producing in line with everybody’s expectations, and for it to be known as one of the best Westin resorts in our network. In my regional capacity I hope to be part of developing and opening new hotels that we have in the pipeline for Southern Thailand.
How do you balance your business and private life?
I can’t say I’m doing that very well at the moment, but given that I’m only 3 months in I think that’s acceptable. But I do try to exercise most days, and in time I will gets some outside interests which I’ve not had time to do yet, otherwise you can become too reliant on being in one area and I don’t think that’s healthy.
The Westin Siray Bay Resort & Spa
21/4 Moo 1 T.Rasada A.Muang, Phuket 83000, Thailand
Phone: +66 (0) 76 335 600
Fax: +66 (0) 76 335 700