Karim Tayach leads the return of the Ritz-Carlton to Bali.
The new Ritz Carlton, Bali promises much from its luxury cliff top perch overlooking the Indian Ocean in Sawangan, Nusa Dua. The famous Balinese hospitality, luxurious accommodation, glorious white beaches, spa, plus a range of tremendous facilities help to make this a thrilling new development. It’s a Ritz Carlton property so naturally, Asia Dreams meets up with Karim Tayach, General Manager.
Asia Dreams: Karim, tell us a little about your background and how you came to choose hotels for your career.
Karim: Half Tunisian and half German, I graduated from hotel school in Tunisia in 1993 and then continued my studies in Switzerland, and in 1995 I joined the industry, mainly based in the Middle East. In 2001, I joined The Ritz-Carlton family at The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai, followed by The Ritz-Carlton Doha, in Qatar. In 2005, I moved to Indonesia to The Ritz-Carlton Jakarta Mega Kuningan, and in 2007, I opened The Ritz-Carlton Jakarta Pacific Place. In June last year, I moved to Bali. Choosing hotels was natural for me as my father was a hotelier from the first generation of hoteliers in Tunisia. He was a general manager at a very young age and I have very happy memories of my youth in hotels.
Asia Dreams: In terms of dining options, what can guests expect from your new resort?
Karim: Food will be very important at The Ritz-Carlton, Bali. We expect to be catering to a wide range of international guests, so there will be a lot of dining options. The hotel is fantastically situated straddling a cliff. At the top will be a Japanese Bar & Lounge, and an Indonesian restaurant, whilst the lower cliff restaurants will be more international, with The Ritz-Carlton Lounge and Bar, “Senses”, our all-day dining restaurant serving international food; toward the beach will be “Breezes”, our tapas restaurant, and, since we’re in Bali and by the sea, we’ll have a grill restaurant featuring catch of the day and meats, in addition to our pool restaurant. We aim to have a lot of guest interaction – cooking classes for kids and adults, plus focused one-on-one culinary experiences with our chefs.
Asia Dreams: Does the hotel have any collaboration with celebrity chefs or mixologists?
Karim: After the opening, we plan to have numerous collaborations with chefs from all around the world, especially other Ritz-Carlton hotels where we have 2 and 3 star-Michelin chefs. We also plan to bring in some celebrity chefs at a later stage in 2015.
Asia Dreams: What is your take on development in Bali these days? Do you think the island is reaching saturation?
Karim: I think some areas in Bali are already
saturated, while others still have room to develop. It’s important to find the right balance. It’s a blessing for Bali that it’s so much in demand. People from all over the world are trying to come here and it’s good to be able offer different facets of Bali, not just beach hotels. We are also developing in Ubud and Tanah Lot, thus giving guests more than just a beach experience.
Karim: Bali has become like a second home for Jakartans, many of whom, like me previously, will even come to stay just the weekend. For the international market, The Ritz Carlton brand is very strong and with the developments in Ubud and Tanah Lot we will be able to offer both groups diverse experiences. So whilst we expect a lot of international guests, the Jakarta and domestic market are also very important – especially the wedding market.
Asia Dreams: How does Ritz Carlton cope with issues of sustainability with regard to water supply and electricity, both of which are under pressure in Bali?
Karim: With the water, we’ll be using a lot of sea and rain water. Desalination and reverse osmosis will ensure a supply of high quality water with minimum environmental impact. We have a sewage treatment plant too, so there will be little or no wastage and the grey water will be used in the gardens.
For electricity, we plan on having solar panels at the resort and some of our Community Footprint programmes will be initiatives to save water, electricity and use fewer chemicals, etc.
Asia Dreams: What have been your favourite experiences in the hotel industry?
Karim: “Every day is a great experience”, but what stands out fresh in my mind are the huge events we’ve done in Jakarta – up to 10,000 people, sometimes three different events of around 3,000 people each all at the same time. In the Middle East, we used to host so many head of states, kings, queens, presidents, celebrities etc… and it was great to cater for the requirements.
Asia Dreams: What tips would you give the many young people looking to become part of the hospitality industry?
Karim: Not only for hospitality – follow your heart, follow your passion, if you don’t like it, don’t do it! If you cannot be passionate and don’t love what you are doing, then there’s no point.
Asia Dreams: How have you seen luxury hotels change over the years?
Karim: Guests now are well travelled and well experienced and they want to feel immediately at home, so you need to be able to provide the guests with the experience they are looking for very quickly. The young generation travels more easily, they are technology driven, so taking a plane is now like taking a taxi, whereas years ago most of us took an annual trip and planned it all year. Expectations now are commensurate with that. The most successful hotels are the ones that adapt most quickly.
Asia Dreams: Have you been in Bali before, and if so, do you have a favourite experience you could share?
Karim: When we worked in Jakarta, Bali used to be a getaway weekend to escape the fast pace of Jakarta, for the kids to enjoy the beach and for my wife and I to enjoy the restaurants.
Asia Dreams: What are your fondest memories of your time in Jakarta?
Karim: The “Ladies and Gentlemen” of the hotel in Jakarta were wonderful and I loved the big events. Our ballroom was the largest in Southeast Asia and there was a great sense of achievement and pride in seeing the well-oiled machine working perfectly from planning to the execution of the tiniest details to ensure memorable experiences for our guests.
Asia Dreams: What does the future hold for you?
Karim: This is the toughest question! I would love to see into my crystal ball, but in the short term, the successful opening and positioning of Ritz Carlton in Bali; for the rest, I’ll keep the door open and look forward to what comes up.
Asia Dreams: On a lighter note, what is your favourite local dish?
Karim: I love spicy food, especially sop buntut, and in Bali it would be sambal udang. But I love all the different types of sambal, the spicier, the better.
As the opening date edges closer, meeting Karim was a genuine pleasure and Asia Dreams appreciates him taking time out of his busy schedule and looks forward to seeing his group and personal visions come to fruition and develop in their stunningly located new beachside resort hotel in Sawangan, Nusa Dua, Bali.