The Marvel Avengers: End Game movie has a worldwide cinema audience glued to their seats, but for Marie Browne, General Manager of the Sheraton Bali Kuta Resort, the journey for her team of superhero associates is neverending.
She chats with What’s New Bali about Marriott’s secret weapon in developing talent, creating experiences guests want to return to, and why there’s a big chance of meeting Gal Gadot on a stretch of Kuta beach.
What distinguishes Marriott from others in the hotel industry?
Two things: Culture and Marriott Bonvoy.
Marriott’s people-first culture is truly alive and well implemented in the organization. Taking care of people is at the center of who we are. I feel like I am with my family at work and we treat each other with respect, utmost care, and most importantly, we have fun together!
Marriott Bonvoy is a travel program with close to 7,000 hotels worldwide across 30 brands. But the key to Bonvoy is not in the numbers alone, but in its artistry in offering such diverse and unique experiences.
Why the change from Area Director of Operations to General Manager?
The position of General Manager is one of the most important jobs in our organization. We touch every part of the business, lead to achieve results, help develop talent, and create experiences for our guests. While the Area job was challenging, this GM role challenges me in different ways; being responsible for the business, and taking care of associates in the process.
I was hooked on the island since my husband and I first came here. The people are genuinely warm and generous, with innate hospitality and charm that makes you want to connect. Bali offers such diverse experiences, not only the sun, sea, and sand, but also cultural experiences, mountains and the beautiful nature, hiking, and more.
Tell us about the surprising little things you faced with your move.
I had forgotten how much fun it is to be at a property. I love having a team of talented leaders around me who drive performance and challenge me every day. I know now, I missed the buzz of a busy hotel.
How many General Manager positions in Marriott are currently held by a woman?
In Asia Pacific, almost 20% of General Manager positions are held by female leaders. We have a higher number at the managerial level of 41%. But of course, there are seats that are up for grabs!
What is the company’s biggest role, or program, that supports women in career and welfare?
Since 1999, the company has had a Women’s Leadership development program, the first hospitality company to do so. We focus on three pillars: leadership, networking and mentorship, and work/life effectiveness. The program includes individual coaching programs, mentoring arrangements, stretch assignments, access to education and external professional and networking memberships, and other personal development initiatives.
Which other industries can the hotel industry learn from?
While hospitality needs to focus on the basics of good service and food, and comfortable surroundings, we must continue to innovate. I think we can learn a lot from looking at IT companies and how they adapt to new market trends, and modify some of those ideas to enhance our offerings for our guests.
How does your hotel contribute as a sustainability and environmental force, or help the underprivileged of Bali?
We practice several initiatives: from using LED lighting to energy conservation, recycling cooking oil for biodiesel, reducing plastic consumption, and using local and organic products for Food and Beverage, and the spa. We also conduct monthly beach clean-up activities to ensure we keep our environment clean and inviting.
Aside from that, we have established a program where our associates have the chance to foster a kid from the local orphanage by providing regular monthly financial support.
Name three unique experiences for guests staying at Sheraton?
Spectacular sunsets with unmatched views of the legendary Kuta Beach. A market style brunch every Sunday where you can brunch and take home 1kg worth of groceries at our Feast Market Brunch. The ultimate weekend starter: endless seafood with a freeflow of ten kinds of martinis every Friday night at Bene Italian Kitchen.
Three people that guests must meet and why?
Rossano, our Executive Chef, for obvious reasons (Exhibit A: Sunday Brunch at Feast)
Ira, our Spa Manager; she is the best to recommend treatments for your needs.
Ling Sia, our VIP Manager; she and her team know the scoop on the island’s happenings.
What can we look forward to from Sheraton Bali Kuta this coming season?
We’ll be rebranding our rooftop bar with a new name and a signature cocktail list – it’ll be your go-to sunset spot in Kuta. Stay tuned!
What would be your advice for women wanting to be General Managers?
Start by sharing your goal with your leaders. Ask for a development plan and access to training to help you advance the skills necessary to be effective in the role. Then go for it! Many times, women hold themselves back by thinking they cannot. You must have faith in yourself and your abilities. Then work on developing yourself to get there.
What do you do when you’re off the clock?
Right now, I study a lot as I am completing further education .When I’m not studying, my husband and I like to travel and explore new areas, try new cuisine, see cultural performances. Bali is ideal for this because of its diversity.
If a day in the life at Sheraton were a movie or a song, what would it be and why?
Movie: The Avengers because I’m surrounded by my team of superheroes who work hard to ensure the hotel is successful, guests are happy, and we are all have fun doing it.
Song: The Beach Boys – Good Vibrations. Being by the beach and soaking up the Bali sun in the heart of Kuta always gives our guests a good feeling inside!
If Sheraton Kuta were a Hollywood star, who would it be and why?
Gal Gadot. She’s a strong character that’s also classy and playful. Plus, she played Wonder Woman.