We speak with Paolo Randone, the General Manager of the newly established Wyndham Casablanca Jakarta, formerly known as The Park Lane Hotel Jakarta, on his experience in Asia and his vision for the new and improved hotel.
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I am Italian by passport but I have lived half of my life around the world. I left Italy when I was 18 years old to pursue my career around Europe before moving to Asia in 1993.
What drove your decision to make a career leap to Asia in 1993 and remained here since?
Amusingly, it wasn’t because of a job hunt. I have always been fascinated with pencak silat (Indonesian martial arts) and I was selected to participate in the World Championship here in Jakarta, Indonesia in 1992. While participating in the championship, I was simultaneously doing job interviews and I happened to secure my first job in Jakarta, in fact, Asia, as the Restaurant Manager of an Italian restaurant in the World Trade Centre. However, my breakthrough job was when I was the Operations Manager of Mandarin Oriental, Jakarta. Ever since then, I have moved around Asia, from Korea to Bangladesh to Singapore and now I have come back here to jump on the wonderful opportunity to be Wyndham Casablanca Jakarta’s General Manager.
With over 32 years of experience across the globe, can you tell us how do the hotel industry and experience differ here in Indonesia?
The Asian and European side of things are obviously very different, but the service industry here in Indonesia itself is very special compared to other Asian countries. First of all, Indonesia encompasses numerous different cultures and languages – from one end, Aceh to the other, Papua, – but they are all very united. The one factor that they all have in common is that Indonesians are naturally genuine, warm, welcoming and hospitable towards others. Unlike in other countries, Indonesians do not need major training to learn to smile, be friendly or be kind – in other words the basic attitude required in to have in the hotel industry – and they are all willing to learn. So that made my job much easier.
What were some of the most challenging experiences you have faced since moving to Asia, especially Indonesia?
The most obvious challenge was, of course, language barrier. Initially, it was very easy for me to be fooled (laughs) but that only motivated me more to learn the language faster. Another challenge is its complex culture; they have so many ethnicities, language, religion, habits, and way of living as well as the types of local food. So at first understanding, all of this was a challenge but it became really exciting to learn about such incredible diversity in one country!
What is in store for the new and improved Wyndham Casablanca Jakarta, formerly known as The Park Lane Hotel Jakarta? Tells us about your vision for Wyndham Casablanca Jakarta.
This is the capital’s first and the country’s main flagship hotel of our brand, which started in North America and has established about 10 hotels around Indonesia. We have taken a very well kept hotel in an incredible location, only 100 meters away from one of the capital’s largest shopping malls. Fortunately, we didn’t need to change much. We only focused very little on renovating the place and improving its efficiency. Overall, we want Wyndham to be an escape for the locals and their families during the weekends, as well as to be an accessible option for business individuals during the weekdays – basically, a sanctuary for both business and leisure travelers in the heart of the capital. We can say with confidence that our five-star hotel – boasting classic architectural design, extensive meeting facilities, fabulous dining spots, and a beautiful outdoor pool – has great value for money.
Can you briefly talk about your management and leadership style and how has it changed over the years based on your experiences around the globe?
It has changed over the years because of the different generations I had to manage, such as Generation X and the millennials. But generally, my style is not a hierarchy system. I believe in being approachable and down to earth. I want my staff to feel comfortable to come to me with issues and suggestions. I also encourage teamwork. And it is important for me to train my staff to be able to run their duties with limited supervision. Also, our greatest asset is our friendly and happy staff, so I want to maintain that happiness; one of the ways is to allow them to have a balanced private and career life. My motto is to be a leader you that you wish to have.
What do you like to do to unwind?
Sports! I enjoy doing all kinds of sports, from swimming to biking and running. I also love participating in sporting competitions because it keeps me focused and discipline. It is important for me to prioritize sports because it improves my mind and body’s wellbeing.
Where is your favorite place to travel?
Currently, it’s Phuket, Thailand because my family is residing there! Not only do I get to meet my family, but I also get to have a short holiday on the beach in the comfort of my own home.
If you were a food, what would you like to be?
Pizza, of course! Not only because I am from Italy but because who doesn’t love pizza? Everybody knows about it, everybody is fond of it! It is such a loveable and delicious option for food. But since living in Indonesia, I have developed a recent
obsession with tempe bacam, so that is my second choice.