The Sociable Host
General Manager Fintan O’Doherty of The Sultan Hotel & Residence Jakarta knows what it takes to tackle the challenges he faces in the hospitality business thanks to his years of experience working in large hotels around the world. The Irish-born leader shares his positivity and thoughts on how to manage a business in these unprecedented times.
Q: So, how did you start out in hospitality?
A: I am originally from Sligo on the western coast of Ireland. When I was young, my family used to visit hotels quite a lot and I developed an interest in hospitality. I studied at Trinity College Dublin and Durham University, then started working in Dublin, before moving to London a year or so later. After that, I spent years working for various hotels in London, Ukraine, China, Vietnam, Singapore and then Jakarta. Believe it or not, The Sultan Hotel & Residence Jakarta is my 35th hotel since I started my hospitality journey.
Q: What do you think of Jakarta in terms of hospitality?
A: It has been growing, I guess, but not as fast as I thought it would be when I first came to Jakarta four years ago. It’s not only Jakarta, the whole of Indonesia has the potential to grow more. The competition is very fierce in the hospitality scene, whether it’s a hotel or a residential building. Here at The Sultan Hotel & Residence Jakarta, we are lucky to own massive space for MICE activities, including the newly renovated Golden Ballroom.
Q: What are the hotel’s most significant selling points?
A: I would say the prime location is one, we’re situated in Senayan, one of the busiest districts in Jakarta. The Sultan Hotel & Residence Jakarta also has the most significant capacity for ballrooms, and many varieties of guest rooms, as well as a selection of facilities for guests from both the hotel and residence. We have two swimming pools and 11 outdoor tennis courts, a children’s playground and a jogging track on our property. This is a massive hotel and residence, it’s like an island in the heart of the city. That’s what makes this an iconic hotel.
Q: What do you think makes a great hotelier?
A: Patience is most important, you need it for planning, attention to detail and managing staff to get the best out of them. How do you get the best from your team? You delegate work to them and have patience so they can do the work from their hearts.
A big hotel like The Sultan has standard procedures that need to be consistently followed. First impressions on arrival at the front door and during check in are critical for a hotel. This is why proper training is essential, we want to make sure everyone is doing the right job for the best outcome for every guest.
Q: Would you share a memorable moment from your career?
A: When I was in China, the hotel under my leadership, Tangla Hotel Tianjin, managed to get a six star diamond rating from the prestigious American Academy of Hospitality Sciences, which led us to be a leading hotel in the city. That was a fascinating time in my career.
Q: Do you have any advice for those who want to break into the hospitality industry?
A: You need to be sociable and interested in meeting new people and dealing with different kinds of backgrounds. Also, having a very positive attitude is very necessary because the hospitality industry is challenging and demanding. You need to have emotional intelligence so you can understand and be perceptive of your surrounding’s needs.
Q: What are your plans for the hotel going forward?
A: With the current situation and lockdown regulation, we are still adapting and trying all the opportunities that we have to best accommodate our customers. This is not only impacting Jakarta, it’s around the world. We need to keep our heads held high so that we can get through this uncertain time.
We are still accepting room reservations at the moment, and offering a food and beverage service as well. We can also accommodate small meetings that follow the health protocols issued by the government. But right now, we’re trying to figure out how to provide our clients with the best planning for their weddings in the Golden Ballroom, as well as the best flexibility to accommodate weddings that got postponed until next year.
Q: When you’re not working, what do you get up to?
A: I enjoy learning more about different languages, such as French, Chinese, Russian and Bahasa Indonesia. Other than that, I still love travelling the world when I have the time because it allows me to see different cultures, food and new places. At home, I enjoy cooking and spending my leisure time with the family.
The Sultan Hotel & Residence Jakarta
Jalan Gatot Subroto
Jakarta 10270, Indonesia
T: (+62) 2157891001