Interview with Sander Looijen General Manager The Westin Resort Nusa Dua, Bali

Congratulations on your new role as the new General Manager of  The Westin Resort Nusa Dua, Bali

With experience working in various continents, what do you think is special about Bali?
If I would have to name all the special things about Bali then this would become a very long interview… My family and I have traveled throughout the region over the past 20 years and have always loved to come to Bali. The extraordinary hospitable people here is one of the key reasons we have always enjoyed visiting as well as the very strong cultural heritage which really makes Bali one of the favorite travel destinations worldwide. For us now to be able to live here and really get more familiar with all what Bali has to offer is a dream come true.

Have you always known you would venture into hospitality? What sparked your interest?
I started working in stewarding when I was 17 years old, as a partimer in the basement of a restaurant. One day my manager asked me if I wanted to come work in the restaurants service. I really enjoyed the idea of providing guests with a good time; I then decided to go study hotel management and have always kept my interest in hospitality. I was lucky enough that right after my study, Marriott offered me a job, that was 20 years ago and I am still with the same company. I enjoy it every day more.

You have worked in the industry for some time and received many awards not only to yourself but also to the hotels that you led.  What do you think is the secret to your achievements?
I hope I will not disappoint when I say there is not one real secret. Working in hospitality is all about people. In Marriott we say that if you take care of your associates, the associates will take care of the guests and the guests will return. I do believe that I have really embraced this philosophy everywhere I go. People need to be happy in their job to perform well and it is my job as a leader to ensure they have all the tools they need to do their job in the best way possible, and that includes a happy work environment. In order to achieve this I need to walk around and speak to the associates, get to know them and see what drives them. When your associates are happy to come to work, 90% of the job is done. So that’s where I focus a lot of my energy.

Share to us the latest update about The Westin Resort Nusa Dua, Bali
The Westin Resort Nusa Dua, Bali has a long standing history as an iconic hotel on the island. With more than 30 years of age we have many repeat guests and we are looking forward to continue this legacy. We have plenty of exciting updates coming with our Heavenly Bed 2.0 for example. Westin has been worldwide very well known for its amazing relaxing beds and we are now enhancing this further. Our rooms and meeting spaces will get a good upgrade over the next 2 years. Other than this we will continue our focus on being the leader in wellness with amazing events and activities for our guests that support this initiative.

What is the most challenging thing in your current position you have experienced so far?
Every job requires a new approach and it usually takes some time to get used to all the dynamics of a hotel and settle in. I have been here 2 months and have truly enjoyed it. With our large conference center and the many different facilities at the hotel it took me some time to get to know everything. Now that I am more and more settling in, it is time to see where we can enhance our facilities and services and I am really excited about that.

How do you maintain a work and life balance?
Great question! This is not always easy and especially when you have just started a new job and have so many things to learn and take care of. With 3 children and my wife, I have a busy family life as well. I always try to switch off once I am home, I will make it a point to always have dinner with my family and learn what they have done during the day without thinking too much about work. And whilst hotels run 24/7 I try to take my days off and do fun things with my children as much as I possibly can. I truly believe that by switching off at home and be present with the family I will be able to do my job better as well.

What words of wisdom do you have for those who want to choose hospitality as their career?
I would encourage anyone to chase their passion. If hospitality is your passion and you have it clear in your mind what you would like to achieve then go for it. It is a fun and challenging career with tremendous opportunities. Marriott International alone has more than 9,000 hotels worldwide, over 1,000 in Asia Pacific and currently 26 in Bali alone. We have very bold growth plans so more properties will follow which means great opportunities