In Profile of The Month, this time we talk with the General Manager of de Braga by ARTOTEL, Reza Farhan. On this occasion, he shares his story about how he got into hospitality, became a General Manager, and his vision with de Braga by ARTOTEL.
Q: Can you tell me how you finally got into hospitality?
A: The identical thing that runs in my family is that they are all civil servants, and engineers, from the Education Office. When I graduated from high school, I thought, “It seems boring, the family atmosphere is all civil servants, so, let me try something new.” At that time, I had actually graduated from ITM Engineering Planology. But after that, I accidentally went to STP Bandung. When I saw them, their confidence was extraordinary, and their lectures were neat and interesting, that's all. On the one hand, I saw that they have a very strong networking spirit. Anyone becomes a friend, anyone becomes a business partner. So, I started to get interested, here. Finally, after graduating, I tried to register at STP and finally got accepted at the F&B Service.
Q: At STP there are many majors, why did you choose F&B Service?
A: I like to eat, but I don't want to go into too much detail about culinary knowledge. I'm more interested in organizing f&b. For weddings, conferences, and exhibitions, I see it's really exciting. Because when organizing, we can relate to many people, then the situation is always dynamic. That's the thing I like. While at ENHAI, we learned how to form a small team, to handle weddings, catering, and all kinds of things. Finally, it became when I thought "This will be a promising business". In this F&B world, we must continue to think about innovation, because if not, our customers will feel stagnate.
Q: But, can you cook, sir?
A: I can cook for myself, for my own needs. But for the hotel recipe that I researched, I don't want to go into it. But, I know how to serve, I know how to taste the food. That's more or less there.
Q: Can you tell me how your career started? We read in your CV that you started your career in the Netherlands.
A: Yes, Holland. So, at first, my main reason was that I got a scholarship from an international hotel chain. Thank God I took this good opportunity, and they gave me the opportunity for management training too. I wandered alone for two years there. I started my career as an entree, yes, from a bushboy to becoming a waiter, I experienced it in Europe. Actually for me, as Eastern people, we have a strong basic culture of hospitality. We are used to being very welcome and very warm. So all you have to do is have a strong determination to keep learning and working hard.
Q: What's the difference in work ethic, sir? In the Netherlands, then in Dubai, right? What's the difference, sir?
A: The difference is that our people are Eastern-oriented, they are always mixed, yes, with feelings, with logic. But, if there, rights and obligations we really uphold. If you work 8 hours, it's already 8. Don't demand that I have additional hours. So, for example, you work as a waiter, so you just take the position of a waiter. If we do, sometimes, "ok, there is an opportunity for a career, I'll take over the work of the captain. I'm taking over the supervisor's work." Maybe in Indonesia, there's the spirit of competition and the will to continue to a higher level. If you are there you will often find people aged 45 or 50 still being waiters.
Q: Interesting, technically, what did Mr. Reza get during his career outside?
A: For example, on the F&B side, the most profitable for example, we refer to Europe, right? They like wine, so we study wine, product knowledge is more direct because it goes directly to the producers. We are close to the vineyard, what is the processing technique like? That's the positive side. In the Netherlands, they are famous for their cheese, I can go directly to the manufacturer, and see what the process is like, and that is really knowledge for us. If it's here, right, we just read, audio, visual. If there we can see it directly.
Q: Then, why did you finally decide to go home, sir?
A: I know, in the past, wherever I traveled, people talked about Bali. When talking about tourism in the world, Indonesia's icon is Bali. So, indeed, some people said when I was working in Europe “Why did you come to Europe? Your country is beautiful, especially Bali. You must implement your knowledge and education in your country”. So, I also hope that one day if I want to have a career, on the top career, I will definitely return to Indonesia. When I finally returned to Indonesia, I was confident, my technical skills were strong. So that I can immediately enter the managerial level.
Q: Have you always wanted to be a General Manager? When did you first dream of becoming a General Manager?
A: Definitely, yes, right. Because if the top position in hotel management is General Manager. It's really on my target. Coincidentally, when I was hired, I was promoted to General Manager at 38. It's really on my target. I think, for the next step and my capability there, I have honed it from my previous leader. Coincidentally, I also had the opportunity to become a General Manager at de Braga by ARTOTEL.
Q: How do you see this hotel?
A: From the start, I've seen the ARTOTEL concept itself, which is smart, casual, and professional. It doesn't mean we don't uphold hospitality. So, I thought, something new here. In the past, the icon was the W Hotel, right, which adhered to a casual, dynamic, professional system. So, this is local pride, ARTOTEL group, creating a concept that may not be the same but resembles the W Hotel concept. So, it's funny, you can work in sneakers, and wear jeans, casually but still get warm hospitality.
Q: How is de Braga by ARTOTEL products different from other hotels in Bandung?
A: In Bandung alone, 317 hotels, everyone promises the same thing. Food, drink, accommodation. But, I always tell the team, let's serve different products. What product? Good memory product. For example like, "Why are you holding events elsewhere, why do you have a Ballroom on the Basement level?" Precisely because we have a Basement, we make it a new concept and people can enjoy it in our basement. If people enjoy it in our basement, it will definitely be even more comfortable in our ballroom, in our meeting room. Because the room is already proper. Designate the basement for parking, and we make it an event venue, and people are happy, and we deliver something different and this is extraordinary. Until now, I say, our basement party is from zero to hero.
Q: What are the future plans, with the hotel? What do you want to make again?
A: I think that 80% of this concept has been executed well, right? Stay in the direction of innovation, and upgrading facilities. About de Braga by ARTOTEL, we can still say business and family hotel. But the target is that in the next two or three years, I want to make de Braga by ARTOTEL a smart boutique hotel.
Q: How is the detailed concept?
A: This smart boutique hotel is more of a lifestyle assistant. The lifestyle assistant is more of a butler system, so everyone has one-touch communication. For example, if Mr. Smith is coming to de Braga by ARTOTEL, everybody recognized Mr. Smith, no more passing counters, we already have by greeting. We all know the references. Apart from that, we also want to upgrade the facility. There are several rooms where we will present lifestyle facilities, such as a mini gym, audio-visual. Inside the room is already high-tech. Slowly but surely, we are already heading there. We are targeting all of these to be realized in the next two years.
Q: It has to be a 5-star experience?
A: If it's 5-star experience, we will have problems at the facility. Because a 5-star must be connected to a business center or shopping center and have a restaurant specialist. If we just want to go to 4+ now, that's fine. We will have several rooms that we will merge from two rooms into one room. The most important thing later, we want to make a lifestyle assistant, so we tend to be butlers. So everybody can do everything in here.
Q: So, how about the real concept?
A: So it's more about personal service. Guests who come are handled by one person. Starting from the F&B, housekeeping, until he wants to make a reservation, wants to attend a concert in Bandung, everything is handled by the butler. The transportation, from departure to where he is doing business, back to the hotel, until he plans to return to his home, everything has been organized in a one-stop service. Lifestyle assistant, we call it. Of course, this will require strong manpower, and we will continue to upgrade manpower here.
Q: What do you do in your spare time, sir?
A: With family, yes. If I need to release stress and all kinds of things, I play with them. Sometimes playing with the family is much more tiring physically but it's all worth it, all the warm feelings. The pandemic educated us to return to natural life. We'd like to go camping and glamping. For me, it's a very new atmosphere. With nature providing refreshments for us, I think there's nothing wrong with having a family vacation in nature.
Q: What are your interests?
A: I play the piano instrument, I sing, and I'm also still in the band now. If I'm too tired, I get together with my high school friends, and college friends, and go back to jamming.
Q: Then how do you see yourself in 10 years?
A: In the next 10 years, I will further hone my skills in the hospitality field. So if I'm already successful in my property, I will join the hotelier community. We will help friends who are just starting the hospitality business. Specifically, being a consultant. Besides that, my dreams too, I've started saving money, I'm going to start my personal business, F&B. Let's say, a small inn with boutique coffee, boutique pastry, with food that isn't really fancy, but just be good and consistent. Maybe during my retirement years, I will manage my own business more and become a consultant.
Q: Thank you very much for your time.
A: Thank you guys.