A seasoned hotelier with 30 years in the industry, Simon Barnett strives to create a comfortable working environment to drive better results. After relocating from Singapore, the Australian is now taking up the role of general manager of Four Seasons Hotel Jakarta, one of the city’s most stylish hotels.
by Rizky Adityo
E: Firstly, congratulations on your new role as general manager of Four Seasons Hotel Jakarta. You were previously hotel manager and director of marketing of Four Seasons in Singapore; can you share the story of your career and experiences so far?
A: Well, I have been very lucky since I joined Four Seasons in Sydney as director of sales and marketing, and I have been incredibly grateful for some of the developments from the people that I have met throughout my career. As hotel manager, I transferred to Singapore for a couple of years, and just recently joined Four Seasons Hotel Jakarta as my first appointment as general manager.
E: When you began your career, did you ever imagine that you would one day become a general manager of a five-star hotel?
A: I have to say not. My first intention was to support myself through university as a bellman, helping guests take their luggage up and down. Soon after that, I realised how amazing it was for someone who had been living in Australia for many years to start seeing and experiencing other people’s cultures. So, it didn’t take me very long to get hooked, and that was how I started my career in hospitality.
E: With its long-standing prominence as a luxury hotel, Four Seasons Hotel Jakarta is well-known for its high-quality services. How has this influenced your leadership approach and what further improvements can we expect now that you’re at the helm?
A: Well, I have been incredibly impressed since I arrived here in Jakarta back in January. What I’m feeling incredibly lucky for is the engagement between our team and the guests. For me, that is something that we have been doing well, and we will continue to do so. As we come out of the pandemic restrictions, we are aiming to provide additional services and activities for our guests, so they can start enjoying things such as the Weekend Brunch at Alto, and a number of programmes that we are currently working on.
E: Having worked with the prestigious Four Seasons for more than a decade, what do you think sets the group apart from its competitors?
A: I think the core, which is one of our golden rules that we practice, is commitment to each other and treating each other the way we like to be treated. We, as a group, are supportive of one another and we do what is best as a team. So, I think that is one of the key successes for us.
E: You’ve lived in some of the best places in the world, including London, New York City and Singapore. What made you decide to move to Indonesia?
A: Well, I think it’s just the excitement of being able to travel and experience a different culture. One of the advantages of having a diverse group of people that work within the Four Seasons is meeting a lot of people from different countries and destinations, and hopefully, it gives a new perspective on some of the things that you’ve learned over time in other destinations.
E: Given your credentials and strong track record in the hospitality industry, what’s your take on the standard of luxury hotels here in Jakarta, based on what you’ve witnessed so far?
A: We are very lucky. I think the standard of accommodation in Jakarta is very high. The fact new, very popular brand hotels are opening up in the next six months is just fantastic for the city. I believe one of our advantages as an all-suite boutique hotel, as we move into recovery mode, is to be a little bit more personalised and generous with our product offerings.
E: When you stay at a hotel abroad, can you enjoy it or are you constantly looking at things through the eyes of a general manager?
A: Well, I think that’s an occupational hazard. I still remember when I travelled with my wife and we went to different cities, I negotiated with her on how many hotel lobbies I could visit. But, as I get a little bit older, I have started realising the real benefits of going to hotels, or other luxury areas, retail included, is about trying to understand how things get done better than what we do and how you can bring that learning back into your hotel environment.
Four Seasons Hotel Jakarta
Jalan Jenderal Gatot Subroto
Jakarta 12710, Indonesia
T: (+62) 2122771888