The brand new Hyatt Regency Hong Kong, Sha Tin, which opened for business in February this year, enjoys a unique position on two counts: it is the first international hotel in the New Territories and it has forged a special partnership with the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), in helping to develop Hong Kong's future hoteliers.
The initiative with the CUHK marks Hyatt's first partnership with a university. "We see this arrangement as a win-win situation for all parties," says Robert Hamer, general manager, Hyatt Regency Hong Kong, Sha Tin. "Hyatt gets the opportunity to take the hotel's brand into a new territory where we will discover tremendous business opportunities. At the same time, our executive team is thrilled for the opportunity to nurture young people from both the university and the local community to work in our business."
The CUHK School of Hotel Management and Tourism will occupy seven floors of the newly built Faculty of Business Administration office building located right next to Hyatt Regency Sha Tin. This proximity allows members of the Hyatt Regency executive team to actively involve in some of the academic programmes and to provide students with invaluable commercial exposure.
"Our staff act as facilitators and we draw on materials that we use at Hyatt to stimulate the curriculum," Mr Hamer says. "Our human resources director, John Morabito, and I have even taken part in the panels to select students for the school."
The hotel will provide a number of summer internships each year and draw up an annual training plan.
The Hyatt advantage
Hyatt as a global brand will bring new life into the hotel scene in the New Territories, says Mr Hamer. "We believe in our product, quality and service. Our rooms are spacious, extremely comfortable, and planned to meet business travellers' needs. The hotel design is contemporary yet timeless."
human resources director
Hyatt Regency Hong Kong, Sha Tin
Just a short walk from the University KCR station and halfway between Hong Kong and China's border with the city, the-state-of-the-art 567-room Hyatt hotel in Sha Tin is conveniently located for both business and leisure travellers, and there is easy access to Hong Kong's airport.
Hyatt takes great pride in its food and beverage offerings, and Mr Hamer believes the new hotel's Chinese restaurant will treat customers to an exceptional culinary experience. "We brought in four chefs from different parts of China. They produce delicious home-style food rather than the standard restaurant fare," he says. "It's the perfect venue for anything from a banquet to a business meal or family lunch on Sundays. Our cafe has four show kitchens and offers a wonderful buffet along with an a la carte menu."
With an urban resort that boasts spectacular views, a beautiful spa and excellent outdoor event facilities, the hotel is an ideal venue for MICE and weekend leisure getaways. It also fills a special market niche with 133 luxurious long-stay suites. These are hugely popular with clients such as visiting academics at the CUHK or local companies which need accommodation for overseas colleagues.
Rise from the ranks
Business is building slowly but surely despite the economic downturn, and the hotel is continuing to recruit more staff as occupancy climbs. "We are now looking for both experienced hotel employees and fresh graduates for positions in food and beverage, front office and sales," Mr Morabito says.
While students from the CUHK will get priority for internship slots, Hyatt Regency Sha Tin will provide a level playing field in its graduate recruitment, he stresses.
"Hyatt's aim is to become a preferred employer for all top local hospitality graduates," he says. "Fresh graduates with the potential to progress quickly towards senior management roles may benefit from our 12- to 18-month corporate training programme, at the end of which they will come into the business as junior managers."
Employees who join the hotel at entry level positions will also have the chance to reach management ranks. Having three hotels under Hyatt's management in Hong Kong gives its employees a special advantage in terms of opportunities for promotion and long-term career development.
"For instance, you may start in this hotel as a member of the wait staff," Mr Hamer says. "One year later, you could become a team leader at the Grand Hyatt, and 18 months after that, an assistant manager at the Hyatt Regency Tsim Sha Tsui. In five years, you can perhaps return to Hyatt Regency Sha Tin as a manager."
He says members of his current team have risen through the ranks to senior roles with Hyatt in Hong Kong, including the executive chef, the director of marketing and the director of learning and development. "They are concrete examples of success for young people who join our business," he notes.