We are delighted to introduce you to a relative newcomer to Jakarta’s hospitality scene, but certainly not somebody new in this industry. This is a gentleman who is originally from France yet has made his way around the world in luxury hotels. His career spans properties in Boston, Hong Kong, Chicago, Sydney, as well as his early experience in some great hotels in France. His name is Gaylord Lamy.
AGS: Welcome to Jakarta, Gaylord! And in this uncertainty situation which is going to pose a number of problems over opening your new and I believe beautiful property. So, first question for you is regarding the experience that you’ve had over these many years all around the world, what do you think that experience gives you when it comes to Jakarta which is a very different city?
GL: Well, first of all thank you for the kind introduction, Alistair, and it’s a real pleasure to be here today and delighted to meet you. Having been able to work in those different cities in destinations around the world with Langham most of the time, has really given me the ability to not only understand the different cultures of where I’ve worked, but also the way a city works and really may give me a sense of how to adapt quickly to how the business reacts. I must say as you pointed out, moving into a city during a pandemic is a very unique experience, especially during this time that we’ve had to learn even quicker in order to adapt and to react to what is to be expected once we open the hotel.
AGS: Well, we know that Langham has great experience operating hotels at the highest possible level, and everyone is expecting that to take place here, COVID pandemic or not, economic downturn or not!And I’m sure that you will do that, but going back to your own personal background. I have known many general managers over the years, and those who come from a food and beverage background generally are better, shall we call them, Front of House Managers. They know how to react to guests, they know how to speak to guests, the guys who come from the back rooms prefer to stay in the background. And in between, you’ve got your “Rooms” guys and your “Operations” guys. You come from Food and Beverage. Do you think that you are a hands-on, visible front of house, welcoming GM? Is that what you’re going to be here in Jakarta?
GL: Well, I love the question that really touches my heart. You know, food and beverage is a passion. I believe it’s a type of work you must love it in order to do it well. But look, whatever our background is, in this profession we all have one thing in common that we all love to surround ourselves with great people, friends, and family. We are doing a lot of celebration around a great meal or beverages, whether they’re cocktails, mocktails, wine or champagne. And that’s what Langham is all about, celebrate the everyday.
Being a ‘Front of House GM’, means there’s nothing better than to be there in the field with the team. You know, as a matter of fact, my first GM role was for the Langham Hotel in Sydney. It was a smaller property, but ultra-luxury and you all work together with the team to deliver the service. Even as GM, I was checking guests in, check in rooms if needed, assist to clearing tables in a restaurant, and operate a hotel in many possible ways I can support.
AGS: So, we’re going to see you in the lobby, in the restaurants being a visible part of this operation?
GL: Absolutely. As soon as the hotel opens its doors, I’m locking the door of my office and throwing the key away to make sure every guests are experiencing the legendary Langham service in this stunning hotel.
AGS: Looking forward to that. In fact, all of my best friends who are GM’s are front of house GM’s, people who really speak to their guests and know them, and that there is nothing quite like that, you’re a breed apart. Now that the Langham has a really seriously good reputation worldwide, but preparing to deliver that promise in Jakarta is a little bit difficult at the moment. I mean, your tagline of “Celebrations, Elevated” has to be a little subdued at the moment, too, because sometimes people would say there’s a little sensitivity to celebrate during a pandemic. Secondly, to deliver that, it’s quite difficult too. Now your brand states that “The Langham, Jakarta defies categorization, and simply be placed in a box”. What is it about the Langham brand that gives this different categorization to other luxury hotels?
GL: Great question. Like I tell everyone the best way to describe it would be to come and experience yourself. But to give you a few highlights is firstly we are obviously very cautious that we are opening a hotel during a difficult time, and these are concerns out there from our guests. But, The Langham, Jakarta from the very beginning, was on top of the matter and really came up with all protocols and safety guidelines in order to deliver that service and make people feel safe. We believe there’s a big difference between feeling safe and secure. You know, feeling secure could just mean seeing things being put in place, but feeling safe means that you have confidence that this is being reinforced on a daily basis. And we truly believe that we’ll be able to do that.
The Langham, Jakarta is the result of the collaboration between some amazing designers, and truly from a luxury product in the region. Then we’ll we rely a lot on our service culture that we train our colleagues a lot on how to take initiative. We believe that when you come to the hotel, our colleagues really become part of the solution not limited to enable to answer any queries guest may have as well as take care of our guests if needed.
From food and beverage offerings, we have a collaboration with some celebrity chefs one of which we’ll be starting on the 9th of September with the hotel. This is a restaurant called Tom’s by Tom Aikens, who is one of the youngest British chef to receive two Michelin stars in the UK at 26 years old! This great restaurant placed on the 62nd floor that has a beautiful bar and mezzanine area for private events. We also have Marrone kitchen, the centerpiece of the kitchen where we’ll be cooking some delicious European food with British flair and specializing in cooking all the produce on the bone. So you’d have those magical flavors.
Then on the ground floor, we’ll have our Alice restaurant as in “Alice, in Wonderland” to create a bit of a whimsical a time in this pandemic time. And this is where we’ll be serving our signature Langham Afternoon Tea, the true British Heritage afternoon tea.
And then in further phases later on, we’ll be opening on a rooftop bar called Artesian, which is another signature brand of Langham placed at the dazzling rooftop of The Langham, Jakarta where the best views of the sunsets can be enjoyed with signature cocktails. We’ll also have T’ang Court - inspired by its Three Michelin Starred Cantonese restaurant namesake at The Langham, Hong Kong, will make its debut into Southeast Asia. And we’ll have another chef collaboration for our Japanese restaurant later on.
AGS: Sounds like an amazing array, and you have already impressed me as a French man, who’s prepared to say ‘British flair in cooking! That is the first time I’ve ever heard that! It’s a wonderful. We are certainly looking forward to it. This is this is a city that lives on its stomach. So you’re going to have a line at the door, from the day that you open, of course, only 25% of the normal capacity or something to that effect! But let’s talk about the opening. You can’t really have a grand opening at the moment either. Is this this going to be a quiet day with, with owners and close friends and just a few VIP’s or is it going to be just open the doors and wait till the pandemic is over until you actually celebrate? But you will be open for guests from the 9th of September as I understand it.
GL:That is correct. We will have a traditional ribbon cutting ceremony with close stakeholders for the project and our owners for the soft opening. But we will be opened for bookings on all channels for hotel reservations, starting on the 9th of September as well as our food and beverage in our restaurants. Then when things are better and safer for everyone, we would love to have a celebration that the hotel deserves. But the team, the marketing team has been doing a very great job at already creating that buzz for the hotel and restaurants launching.
AGS: We’re all looking forward to it. And on behalf of NOW! Jakarta, all of us here wish you the very best of luck. We’re looking forward to meeting you in the lobby and in the restaurants, after it opens, we know that you’re going to do a fantastic job. Very good luck from all of us here.
GL: Thank you, Alistair.
For the video interview, click https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fcr9yA6NXw