In the hospitality industry, while it has been historically known that many managerial and executive roles were dominated by men, this is changing with the times as more businesses become open to fair practices and giving equal opportunities to women. Despite facing challenges in the workplace and balancing personal lives, it is heartening to see that more women now are breaking the glass ceiling by putting themselves forward for leadership roles. WorldHotels takes the opportunity to celebrate two trailblazing female hoteliers that are going against the odds and making big waves in the hospitality industry.
Ms Rebecca Kwan, Senior Vice President of Sales – Hong Kong & United Kingdom and Head of Operations – United Kingdom, Dorsett Hospitality International, General Manager, Lan Kwai Fong Hotel @ Kau U Fong
Recently elected as the first female Chairman of the Hong Kong Hotels Association in 2018, Ms Rebecca Kwan is a well-respected superwoman in the hospitality industry. Serving as Senior Vice President of Sales – Hong Kong & United Kingdom and Head of Operations – United Kingdom in Dorsett Hospitality International, Rebecca also holds the portfolio of General Manager of Lan Kwai Fong Hotel @ Kau U Fong, Hong Kong for 13 years. As one of the pioneer and most successful boutique hotels in Hong Kong, she is responsible for introducing and positioning the boutique hotels concept in the market, directing the business development as well as overseeing the hotel’s daily operations. Her hard work paid off – under her leadership, Lan Kwai Fong Hotel @ Kau U Fong received numerous accolades, including ‘Luxury Boutique Hotel’ by World Luxury Hotel Awards; ‘Hong Kong & Asia’s Leading Boutique Hotel’ by World Travel Awards; Hong Kong Business High Flyers Awards ‘Lifestyle Boutique Hotel’ among other awards.
With over 20 years of experience in the hospitality and tourism industry, Rebecca has held various positions in Sales & Marketing in both international deluxe hotel chain and boutique hotels. Based on her longstanding expertise, Rebecca provides professional advice to vocational education and training as a member of the Hotel, Catering and Tourism Training Board of Vocational Training Council in Hong Kong since 2013. She is also a member of the Tourism Strategy Group – Tourism Commission under The Government of HKSAR since 2017, whose focus is to consider and make recommendations to the Government in respect of Hong Kong tourism development from a strategic perspective.
“Gender diversity is a global trend in many industries and it is proven that either gender can supplement each other, I’m excited to inspire more women hotelier leaders to come forward with us,” shared Rebecca.
Ms Sandra Nguyen Si, Director of Business Development, Salinda Resort Phu Quoc Island
For Ms Sandra Nguyen Si, managing a hotel has never been in her plans – she was well preparing for a Doctor of Pharmacy in Boston before deciding to boldly pursue a hospitality degree in Switzerland’s Swiss Hotel Management School in 2010. While some may deem as a sudden switch in interests, from her pharmaceutical days, she held onto important values that are intrinsic to the hospitality industry – patience, kindness and compassion to people. She translates these principles into her leadership when she embarked on her journey at Salinda Resort Phu Quoc Island five years ago.
In 2017, Sandra officially took over the family business but knew that she had to earn her place as a successor. Under her direction. Salinda Resort Phu Quoc Island continues to receive awards and recognition of its excellence, including the World Luxury Hotel Award 2018 for Best Luxury Boutique Resort (Global Level), Boutique Hotel Awards 2018 for Best Relaxation Retreat in Southeast Asia, and the TripAdvisor Travelers Choice Awards 2019 for being the top preferred accommodation option on Phu Quoc Island. The hotel also clinched the Guest Review Award 2018 (9.5/10) by Booking.com. Currently, Sandra’s sister, Linda Nguyen Si, is pursuing her studies in EHL in Switzerland and will be the second successor to Salinda Resort Phu Quoc Island upon graduation, making it a ‘sisters hotel’ and reflective of the hotel’s name.
In her free time, Sandra enjoys playing the guitar and often jams with the in-house band at High Note Bar in Salinda Resort. She explains that while playing an instrument keeps her disciplined, she can also observe the service and guests’ behaviors during the performance, to determine if the hotel is able to further enhance its guest experiences. While she copes with long working hours and constrained holidays with families like many in the hospitality industry, Sandra stresses on the importance of a strong, supportive team that is understanding and willing to rough out the tough times together. When asked to give a word of advice for female hoteliers out there.
Sandra suggests to “remember to work hard, be observant, be integral and, most importantly, always keep your mind open for new things.”
“In this time and age, it’s not the strongest who will survive, but the one who is adaptable to change,” she added.