Profile of the Month: Sean Halpin, Director of Operations Fairmont Jakarta
Sean Halpin has been successfully recorded 25 years of journey in hospitality. Begin his big career as master on the kitchen by being executive chef at many renowned hotels around the globe. Until he finally arrived in Jakarta to continue his big career as Director of Operations/ Hotel Manager of Fairmont Jakarta since 2014. We have a chance to talk more about his globe-trotting experience.
Over the past few years (and in the coming years) Jakarta seems to be getting more and more new luxury hotels, many of which located not too far from you. How does Fairmont see this competition?
As a member of one the world’s most prestigious and biggest hotel groups, we don’t shy away from competition. In fact, we encourage competition as we see it as a great motivator to bring growth to the industry. We believe that competition brings more opportunity for us to excel at what we do best. In parallel to that, it will also bring a positive impact not just for the industry, but our guests will benefit as well from our growth as a company. These all could lead towards one thing, that the Indonesian economy continues to improve, offering even more opportunities for the country, the people, and of course the industry.
What’s in store for Fairmont Jakarta in the coming months?
Few major events took place recently at Fairmont Jakarta. The highlight of this year would of course be the Asian Games 2018. We were very privileged to host VIP dignitaries from each of the National Olympic Committee (NOC) of each country participating in the Asian Games. Having been located right next to Gelora Bung Karno, we couldn’t help feeling that it was our event, too – especially when the opening & closing reception party were held in our Grand Ballroom.
The other highlight was our week of “When Jakarta Meets the USA” earlier this month. This is the 2nd series following the success of last year’s When Jakarta Meets London. During When Jakarta Meets The USA, we flew in chefs from our sister hotels in the States as well as a guest mixologist from New York’s famous bar, to do a series of culinary and lifestyle event at our various outlets.
In the pipeline, we are looking at several events ahead of us. We will have a Whisky-pairing Dinner at VIEW restaurant this month. In October, we will be having a Michelin chef from Spain to throw his specialties at VIEW and Spectrum. Still in October, we are revamping the bar concept of our Barong Bar, as well – working with famous mixologist Michael Callahan as our mentor. We will be the first bar in Jakarta that has extensive collections of barrel-aged cocktails and spirits.
We have been active as well in our sustainability efforts. One of the most exciting one will be some time in the end of this year where we are looking at having a fund raising dinner with a unique theme (that I cannot share yet at this stage).
You’ve lived in Jakarta for nearly 4 years now. What do you love the most about the city?
I truly find that Jakarta is an exciting and vibrant city with so much to offers, world-class dining places, in-trend drinking and hangout venues, hip coffee places, modern shopping centers, etc. The city is unique as it shows evidence of growth and modernization, while at the same time still maintaining the country’s unique culture, found everywhere.
And what I love the most is absolutely the people. Indonesia’s one of those few countries who have genuine hospitality as part of its culture. People that I met here in Jakarta are always full of smiles, friendly and willing to help.
How does Jakarta compare to other Asian countries that you’ve lived in? Both in terms of growth, and also its demographic.
Jakarta is probably one of cities that have the fastest growth right now. It is a reality that traffic congestion is a problem in large cities like Jakarta. I’m glad to see that Jakarta still remains one of the most vibrant metropolitan areas in Asia, and its government has undertaken some ambitious and dramatic infrastructure development projects, that are designed to improve and facilitate mobilities across the greater Jakarta area. These improvements will place Jakarta on par with many other Asian cities in terms of the quality of life for city residents.
You spent a great deal of your hospitality career as a chef, an accomplished one, too. What made you decide to leave the kitchen?
To answer this question, I must then reveal the uncomfortable truth that I feel in the industry. In hotel industry, the highest aspiration of modern chefs is to develop themselves in their career and move on to the food and beverage management ladder, before aiming to a senior hotel management position like General Manager or Hotel Manager. The life of a chef could have its own challenge, working on average 12 hours every day, heavy physical labor, and the fast pace on day-to-day basis. I happened to be one of those chefs who climbed his was to a Hotel Manager position (or here is called Director of Operations) – the 2nd highest position within a hotel organization chart after General Manager. But I think most chefs (or ex-chefs) would agree that they love and thrive on the fast-pace environment and miss the excitement of the adrenalin rush in the kitchen when being busy
Nowadays, I’m satisfied that I can still cook for my wife and family, sometimes even working on recipes on gastronomic cuisine to serve dinner at our home in Jakarta.
What excites you the most about your job?
I’m a true operations person. I like to meet our guests or make sure that everything works properly in this hotel for our guests’ convenience. Seeing a well-developed plan come together excites me. Even more importantly, challenging my staff to reach for goals and achievements that they never dreamed possible. I am pleased when I see my staff succeed and assume authorities they once thought impossible.
Please share with our readers: 5 words that describe you best!
– Positive attitude
– Strong Communicator
T. +(62) 21 2970 3333
Jl. Asia Afrika No.8, Gelora Bung Karno, Jakarta Indonesia 10270
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