20/05/2020

INTERVIEW: Nicholas Liang, Hotel Manager, The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong

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In barely more than a decade, The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong was pushed to the paroxysm of luxury accommodation of the city-state. From the top of a slender tower, offering an incomparable view on Kowloon, the Hong Kong island, and Victoria harbour, and featuring lacquer and sparkling black marble interiors, which draw their quintessence from Asian elegance, The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong welcomes its guests in the heart of a magical and exceptional setting.

Its Hotel Manager Nicholas Liang, who forged his career within the most prestigious companies (Shangri-La, Mandarin Oriental, Rosewood…), opens for vendom.jobs the doors of this dazzling success, boasting starred restaurants and a prestigious spa, acclaimed by The Forbes Travel Guide. He also makes us the honour to enlighten us on one of the most exciting destinations in the landscape of international luxury accommodation.

Vendom.jobs – At your very first career beginnings, who were your models/mentors?

Nicholas Liang – My absolute first inspiration and role model was the legendary Liam Lambert, who at the time, when I first set foot into the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong back in 1996 as a bell boy, was the General Manager of this magnificent hotel. He was the epitome of a luxury hotelier in every sense of the word.

Over the past two decades, I have met and continued to be mentored by some truly incredible people, including Darren Gearing during my time with Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts Group, to my current General Manager, Pierre Perusset, one of the fabled Ritz-Carlton leaders.

V.J. – What are the main features of Chinese luxury hospitality according to you?

N. L. – The Chinese market is much less price-sensitive, a peculiarity especially prevalent with the younger millennial luxury travellers. It is paramount that luxury hotels understand and embrace the requirements that encourage and entice the luxury traveller to stay with them. The Chinese luxury traveller is very much influenced with the online and social presence, as well as with the reputation of a hotel and its standing in the market that it operates in.   

The Lounge & Bar

V.J. – What makes Asian destinations so attractive nowadays? In your view, how have they managed to evolve with the codes of luxury?

N. L. – Asia has always had a knack for authentic hospitality from the heart, attributed to our upbringing and precocious cultural immersion. This mindset then naturally emulates into each person’s way of providing genuine hospitality in each and every interaction. You can experience this sense of care and personalization in many places as you travel throughout the continent, it is ingrained in our culture.         

V.J. – What piece of advice would you give to a young European professional who would like to start a career in South-East Asia?

N. L. – SE Asia is an incredible place to start a career. My advice would be to fully embrace the local culture and work ethics of the location that they are in and be ready to put everything they have into the operation of the hotel. In many places in Asia, the pace and intensity are much quicker than other parts of the World.

V.J. – How and why did you become Hotel Manager after being F&B Manager?

N. L. – It has always been my aspiration and dream since my first step into a hotel to one day become a General Manager of a luxury hotel; it was only a natural progression that I pursued the development of my career mainly through the ranks of Food & Beverage, to eventually have the opportunity to oversee hotel operations in Tokyo, followed by my current role here at The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong. As you move through your career, you progressively begin to discover and learn about other hotel operation disciplines that are out of your comfort zone: this is the crossroads where you choose to continue to develop further or dedicate yourself to a specific field. 

Victoria Harbour Suite

V.J. – What are your F&B development expectations for The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong thanks to your background?

N. L. – The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong is an ever-evolving property, our food and beverage experiences are exciting and varied. As we move closer to a decade of operating the property, some of our existing concepts will be revisited, re-conceptualized and re-positioned to ensure that we remain at the forefront of the dining scene in the city.

There have been many changes over the years since the inception of the hotel and the accompanying food & beverage offerings: customers are looking for exciting, stimulating yet approachable dining concepts and this demand must be considered when reflecting on the past and planning for what we would like to see for the next decade.

Tosca di Angelo

V.J. – The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong is regularly awarded with the most prestigious prizes. How, as Hotel Manager, do you receive those awards and what could be your next challenge?

N. L. – Well, we are absolutely humbled and grateful for all the accolades that the hotel has received over the years. Our ultimate challenge would be to have an additional Michelin Star in each of our already Michelin-rated restaurants Tin Lung Heen (currently Two-Star Michelin) and Tosca di Angelo (currently One-Star Michelin), plus to top it all off, to be one of the very few hotels globally to be awarded the coveted Forbes quadruple Five-Star award, that would encompass the hotel, the spa and both our signature restaurants.

At this moment, both our hotel and spa are honoured to be consecutively over the years crowned with five stars by The Forbes Travel Guide, which signifies that our hotel and spa are among the finest establishments in the world to deliver guest service and experiences beyond expectations.

V.J. – What is your own definition of luxury?

N. L. – To me, the definition of Luxury is an imperceptible experience, and this is what is truly encapsulated in The Ritz-Carlton experience – high personalization, refinement, enlivening of the senses, instillation of well-being and fulfilment of the unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests.

Ozone Bar

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(Photo credit: The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong)