Conrad Bali has long been renowned on the island as a beacon of utmost luxury, contemporary style and distinct, personalised service, but to reach this point a team of highly motivated, highly dedicated and expertly trained individuals have been driving the resort to the respectable position it enjoys today.
Set beside the golden sands of Tanjung Benoa, we talked to General Manager Frederic Lebegue about how he keeps Conrad Bali and the Conrad Suites at the head of their game. He reveals how he manages his passionate team, what sets Conrad Bali apart from other resorts and how the island’s hospitality game is forever keeping him on his toes.
Q: Today you’re the general manager of one of the finest resorts in Tanjung Benoa, but how did you first enter into the hospitality industry?
A: It was about 30 years ago when I got my first taste of the business through working in the kitchen of a Michelin-starred restaurant back in France and it all started from there. No one in my family was in hospitality, so the attraction came through the travel opportunities, the people that the hospitality industry allows you to meet and the lifestyle it provides.
Q: You’re originally from France and have since worked around the world. What enticed you to Indonesia?
A: This is my second time to Indonesia after working here between 2007 and 2009. Indonesia is a great country and in terms of hospitality, Bali is positively booming with great hotels, restaurants and lifestyle destinations. So when I was offered the opportunity to join Conrad Bali, it took me about two and a half seconds to make the decision to move back.
Q: From your extensive, worldwide experience, how does Indonesia’s hospitality industry compare to the global market?
A: I can only really comment on the hospitality industry here in Bali, but this island is very special in terms of the food, culture, traditions and people, making the entire experience totally unique. The competition here is extremely healthy and it keeps everyone on their toes. You not only have to be good at what you do, you have to excel and you have to be better than your competition. Bali is really at the extreme end of the scale and is one of the most competitive markets I’ve come across.
Q: So what is it about Conrad Bali that stands out from the rest? What’s your competitive edge?
A: The feedback from our guests always points back to our team. We’ve been here for more than 12 years and we still manage to provide a culture of service that is both very present and very vivid. Although there are new places popping up all the time that might be fresher or funkier, the level of service that we offer here is very much appreciated and our guests keep coming back for more.
Sometimes our guests might stray elsewhere to try something new, but very often they come back. They develop relationships with our team to the point that some even book their next stay through the housekeeper who went above and beyond the call of duty, or a waiter whom they formed a special bond with.
We also offer a stellar location, a vast choice of room types in the main resort and at the Conrad Suites and, for wedding guests, our range of venues are unparalleled, from the iconic chapel to the beach and outdoor areas. Whether our guests are here for business, leisure family, or romance, there’s something for everyone.
Q: This edition of Asia Dreams focuses on interior design. Can you tell us a bit about the design concept at Conrad Bali?
A: From day one, both in the original part of the resort and at the Conrad Suites, the whole concept has aimed to provide a very Balinese experience with modern amenities to give a contemporary and luxurious touch. When you walk around the resort and the Conrad Suites you can’t help but notice a strong Balinese feel thanks to the choice of materials, ambiance and the service provided, yet from a technological, amenity and design point of view, you know this is a five-star resort.
Q: Since being appointed GM at Conrad Bali, how have you seen the resort change? What improvements have you implemented during your time here?
A:: There haven’t been any drastic changes as there’s simply no point in revamping a recipe that already works well. That being said, we’ve certainly been looking at any area we can develop and improve to make the guest experience more memorable. These changes have mostly been behind the scenes in terms of maintenance and soft refurbishments in the villas. For example, right now we’re turning our Spa Villas into Guest Villas and we’re also tweaking our menus at our F&B outlets. Whatever the changes, they always revolve around enhancing the guest experience.
Q: So what approach do you take when managing your teams?
A: I try to make sure that the great service culture that has been here since day one is still very much alive and well. I basically give my teams the tools and resources to ensure the great job they’re doing continues and develops. It may be as simple as making sure the lockers and changing rooms are clean and fresh so that they look forward to coming to work each morning, or ensuring that they are equipped with the equipment they need, including continuous training. I’m quite hands-off, but I’m all about nurturing and empowering them to make their own decisions and to drive their own departments in a way that they feel benefits the business. Then of course I’m always available in the background whenever they need me.
Q: What advice would you give to budding hospitality enthusiasts?
A: I’m quite often asked this question as we regularly welcome trainees and placement students here. I always tell them that as long as you stay curious, stay hungry, continue to learn and always listen to what your guests and fellow team members have to say, then you’ll succeed. It really is as simple as that.