Pierre-André hails from a family of Swiss hoteliers and restaurateurs. He graduated from École Hôtelière de Lausanne and joined Amari in 1993. He was recognized with the prestigious ‘Young Hotelier of the Year’ award from the International Hotels and Restaurants Association in 1998 and was General Manager of Amari Watergate Bangkok for close to 12 years.
With over 25 years of service at ONYX Hospitality Group and Amari Hotels, Pierre-André is nowadays the company’s Regional Vice-President of Operations for Southern Thailand, Vietnam and the Maldives, providing leadership for the group’s growing portfolio of hotels and resorts in these fast-growing regions.
What motivated you to go into the hotel industry?
My parents. They own hotels and restaurants in Switzerland, so I grew up into this industry and have it in my DNA. This is where I started. Afterward, I went to the École Hôtelière de Lausanne which is one of the top schools in the world for hospitality.
Who inspires you and why?
It’s a long story, but my first big mentor was Mr. Kurt Rufli, who was the CEO of Amari hotels and resorts. He gave me my first chance by my coming here to Thailand in 1992. He inspired me by being a fantastic leader, leading at the front, leading by example when I was at a young age and early on in my career. He gave me the opportunity to develop myself, to develop my skills and made sure that I could grow up in the organization. Nowadays we are still friends.
What were your career steps before coming to Amari Phuket?
After finishing the École Hôtelière de Lausanne I helped my parents in our restaurants and hotels in Switzerland. After that I came over here to Thailand, worked for the Mandarin Oriental and the Amari Airport Hotel. Then I went to the Amari Pattaya as the GM and came back to our flagship hotel in Bangkok, Amari Watergate. Finally, being here for six years at the Amari Phuket, our flagship resort, as the Regional Vice President for South Thailand, Maldives and Vietnam.
What is essential for you to be successful as a manager? What are the key points?
The few key points are being hard working and passionate in what you strive for. Never give up, reinvent yourself on a daily basis and never stop learning. Those are the few key points in my career.
What is your favourite part about working in the hotel business?
My most favourite part of working in hospitality is to see happy people – happy team members, and happy guests, those make me happy. So being in an industry which is diversified and cosmopolitan inspires me the most to work in hospitality.
How do you stay up to date with trends and regulations in the industry?
With plenty of things. I believe in learning and growing, I believe in working with the best practices throughout the industry. Also working with people like colleagues, the Tourist Authority of Thailand or people from overseas to follow trends in general and anticipating trends, being at the forefront. Sometimes I’m inspired by my own team here because there’s a lot of things that we don’t know, if we don’t ask. If you ask you get it. You need to adjust yourself to current and upcoming trends but I think being inspired and try to anticipate trends is the most important thing nowadays.
What are the main differences between hospitality in Western and Asian countries?
Actually, everyone in our industry is doing the best they can. The only thing we have an advantage of here in Asia, especially here in Thailand, is the amount of people that we can afford. Compared with Switzerland, for example, there’s a lot of positions that they cannot afford but fortunately here in Asia in Thailand we can make it. And I think what we can find here in Thailand through hospitality is a feeling from the heart which is really unique. In general, I would say there’s not much difference between one country and the other but here in Thailand we have a cutting-edge when it comes to hospitality.
What do you think will be the biggest challenge hotel companies will face within the next 10 years?
I think there are a few; one is technology, also climate change will be a big thing. Another one as well will be the geo source of how people are travelling today. That will be different. In the future people will move much more at short notice. Those are the few points that I would think will be important in the next few years. And again you never know in terms of technology what could happen. If you look back over the last 10 years, a lot of things have changed and I think a lot of things will happen in the next 10 years too.
What advice would you give to someone looking to follow in your footsteps?
To follow in my footsteps? Just be passionate, never give up. Being happy every day when you wake up, then going to work to inspire other people is very important. It’s not only about yourself but if you can inspire other people it means you are doing a big part of your job to step up into the hospital industry, so good luck.