The Resilient LEader
A skilled and passionate hotelier with more than two decades in the industry, Sylvain Laroche is always up for a new challenge. His work repertoire saw him open the biggest Ibis Hotel in Asia in Bandung, and renovate the largest Mercure Hotel in Southeast Asia in Ancol, before overseeing 20 Accor properties in India. Making Indonesia his second home, this French national is now helming Pullman Jakarta Central Park, which houses one of the city’s widest MICE facilities.
by Rizky Adityo
E: What made you choose hospitality as a career?
A: If I look right now, it is certainly a passion and interest in people, patience and attention to detail. But, there are two main reasons that brought me to it. I started as a travel agent in France and in Florida, and I always wondered what was happening to the guests I sent to the hotels. It intrigued me. In addition, my godmother used to own a restaurant with her husband who opened some prestigious hotels on the French Riviera and they had these great stories about the hospitality world. That might be where the passion started. Then I applied as a hotel trainee and discovered all the different departments that make a hotel function, vibrate and alive.
E: Before working in Jakarta, what was your most exciting role to date?
A: Working in the hospitality industry is always exciting because you have the opportunity to travel, challenge yourself, experience other cultures and deliver exclusive experiences to your guests anytime. Before moving to Asia, I spent 15 years working in France, and when I was responsible for managing 14 brands for Accor Group in Tours (French Loire Valley), I was also appointed as president of the Hospitality Association. Working with all peers of the city to deliver stunning leisure and MICE destinations was one of the exciting roles.
E: Throughout your career, what’s the biggest challenge you’ve come across and how did you overcome it?
A: When we talk about the possible disruption in our business, nothing has ever been worse than in the past two years. It has been really tough. I was in India for about three years and having the responsibility of managing properties during a pandemic was very challenging. We were surely not prepared for the way it hit us, but both the anticipation and reactivity of hospitality talents have shown the resilience this industry has to tackle big challenges. I am personally sure we are coming out stronger in all ways.
E: Now that you are with Pullman Jakarta Central Park, what goals and/or plans do you have for the hotel?
A: I have known and liked this property since its opening 10 years ago. This is a wonderful hotel with great facilities and is located perfectly. As of right now, as part of the recovery mode, and since the government started to ease restrictions, we are working on a full programme of refurbishment, upgrading of all of the facilities, F&B offers and improving the meeting spaces. With a top team heading our talents, we want to serve our guests the best with a product that can deliver a limitless experience.
E: Who has been your inspiration in the industry?
A: Well, it’s not a “who” specifically, but usually, inspiration comes from your leaders. That’s what I keep saying to the team. I really believe that my career has been built with the support of my leaders, on different levels, in different regions. I have been working with Accor Group for 25 years now and I never applied anywhere to move but someone has always been in the back to offer the next challenge. That’s where Accor is at its best.
E: What do you think about the hospitality scene in Jakarta?
A: All of Indonesia is now in a growing pace of hospitality business. Local leisure is already well present in key cities. The business travel just restarted with events and meetings popping up. International travel, interestingly, is growing very fast (over 50 percent of our guests are foreigners). I truly believe that Jakarta will show the beauty of resilience. Coming a bit later than other regions, the hospitality industry in Indonesia will recover consistently coming months as we already see figures similar to 2019.
E: Outside the hotel, what do you do to relax?
A: Once again, many things around family, then the easy answer can be spending time at Central Park because it is the perfect destination for multiple entertainments with family. My two kids are driving my off time usually. Aside from that, I like testing new food concepts and you can find me in some motorbike shops or in front of MotoGP races.
Pullman Jakarta Central Park
Jalan Letnan Jenderal S. Parman
Jakarta 11470, Indonesia
T: (+62) 2129200088