BRIEF ENCOUNTERS

W Hong Kong's Chooi Li Loo on the essence of luxury

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 January, 2015, 4:25pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 January, 2015, 9:00pm

Malaysian-born Chooi Li Loo is the hotel manager at W Hong Kong. She has held key management positions globally, including at the Grand Hyatt Melbourne, The Ritz-Carlton in Kuala Lumpur and New York, and St Regis Shenzhen

"I'm from a very close-knit family with three siblings. My father was in the family business and my mum was a home-based beautician. Dad was always the easy-going one and mum was very strict with us. She put a big emphasis on social etiquette, and attention to detail - she was always pushing us to reach greater heights.

I had a fun, yet disciplined, childhood. I was always busy with art classes or ballet. My parents tried to give us the best of everything. And in spite of the hectic schedule, mum and dad never failed to pamper us with frequent visits to great eateries and hotels.

They made a point of taking us to all the best hotels in Kuala Lumpur during Christmas holidays to enjoy the different displays. Maybe that's why I love being in the hotel environment.

I'm not a desk-bound person. I prefer to be on my toes. And I've always loved travelling, so after college I wanted to work in jobs that gave me that opportunity. So I became a flight attendant.

But it was being surrounded by a beautiful environment, and my curiosity about how hotels maintain service levels that appealed to me in the end.

When dealing with guests it's important to make them feel at home and cared for. This can be as simple as the way you interact with them, or how you carry yourself on the job
Chooi Li Loo, W Hong Kong manager

My journey into the hotel industry began when I signed up for a course at the Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School in Australia.

My first full-time job was as a butler. Looking back, it was a great introduction to the industry. It gave me an insight into the different operating departments, and how you have to bring them together and make them more personalised.

You have to make a special connection with each guest to keep them coming back. There is a difference between flying first class and economy, and you need to use the first-class service of an airline as a model for a luxury hotel.

My idea of luxury is simplicity with elegance.

When dealing with guests it's important to make them feel at home and cared for.

This can be as simple as the way you interact with them, or how you carry yourself on the job.

And it is crucial that when a returning guest arrives at your hotel that their preferences are already in place. That is essential for a luxury establishment. It shows that you listen, and you care about them.

I believe that what goes around comes around. Each time you're faced with a challenge you must remind yourself that this has happened for a reason.

This somehow comforts you, and gives you the courage to move forward in a positive way."

As told to Kylie Knott