Man of The People
Leading the relatively new Renaissance Uluwatu Bali Resort and Spa, Brad Edman believes in the balance of professionalism and a dash of fun. He sat down with Asia Dreams to talk about the importance of keeping his team happy and motivated when running a successful hotel.
Q: How did you get into the hospitality industry, specifically working with Marriott International?
A: Previously I had worked with a Canadian hotel company, another hotel company in Scotland and England, and this little hotel in Melbourne called Rockman’s Regency, a boutique hotel for movie stars. Marriott took over that hotel in 1998, and when a big company like Marriott comes along, it’s either you want to be with them or not. I saw that Marriott was a great company to work with, I saw a career, so I stayed and I’ve been with Marriott for 20 years now.
Q: Twenty years is quite a long time, what makes you believe in Marriott International?
A: The company always gives me opportunities to grow, and is a result-oriented company; Chairman Bill Marriott believes that if you take care of your people, they will take care of the customers and the customers will come back again and again – a culture that comes right down from the head office right through our hotel associates. The experience and the team working with Marriott are what keeps me going. Can I take another 20 years? Yes, I think so. I don’t think there’s another hotel company that takes such an approach to their people, the customers and the business quite like Marriott.
Q: What is your typical day as a GM like?
A: Golf in the morning, massage in the afternoon… I wish! The job of the GM is to run the business, and I’m really hands on. Some days it involves my being the finance person, other days being the restaurant manager, and basically a problem solver. My number one responsibility, however, is taking care of the team. If I do that right and the team is happy, our customers will be happy. I like to be a team player, I like getting my hands dirty, making coffee for the guests, making them smile, playing with the children while the parents have breakfast, going to the pool and throwing ice on someone.
Q: You were chosen the Global Manager of the Year and Asia Pacific GM of the Year for Marriott; what do you think makes a good GM?
A: The balanced approach. A GM should be a people person. Gone are the days – sorry old GMs – of just sitting behind the desk, waiting for someone to bring them coffee. I believe a GM should make their own coffee, so they understand if the machine’s working right, if the beans are fresh, if the cup’s clean, etc. I believe if you expect someone to do a task, you should know how to do that task in the best way there is possible. When the team’s cooking something in the kitchen, I would put on an apron and ask the chef to teach me, so that when the guests or my team ask me, I can explain it in a human being’s terms and in culinary terms. Same with making a bed or making coffee. A GM’s job should be to learn something new every day. Right now I’m doing my masters, specialising in digital marketing. I’m going back to school at this young age because I want to stay ahead of the young people. I’ve also got this programme here in the hotel for female supervisors and managers, where I meet them weekly and mentor them to make sure they have the skills to be a general manager one day.
Q: How would you describe Renaissance Bali Uluwatu Resort and Spa’s approach to hospitality?
A: The brand enables myself and the team to provoke that intrigue and some independence, so that we won’t be just another hotel. We’re five-star, but we want to make sure that people will feel that they can be who they want to be. It’s about finding that sweet spot, where the customers are comfortable to have a bit of fun, and we want to provoke a sense of discovery. Rather than pointing the guests to a big tourist attraction, we want to suggest little hidden gems of the neighbourhood that you don’t read in guidebooks. The Renaissance brand is about finding that little specialty area that no one else knows.
Q: Do you have any advice for anyone looking to break into the industry?
A: I would advise anyone – young or old – that the time is now. The Indonesian economy is doing well, inbound and outbound travel is growing, middle class Indonesians have money to spend, there is a demand for luxury and the airlines’ capacity is expanding, it’s a great industry. It’s an industry that if you come in, do it and work hard, you’ll get rewarded, especially in Marriott International. It’s a big brand and there’s more coming. Someone entering the industry now after school can come and work in one hotel, and can have a career with Marriott International just in Bali, where he can keep moving, being promoted and growing without having to leave home.
Renaissance Bali Ulwuatu Resort and Spa
Jalan Pantai Balangan 1 No. 1, Ungasan
Bali 80361, Indonesia