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Meet Luc Bollen, General Manager of the Park Lane Hotel Hong Kong

Luc Bollen, The Park Lane Hong Kong’s new General Manager, steps in as the hotel celebrates 40 years on Causeway Bay’s harbourfront.

 

I did culinary school until I was 19. One of my teachers offered a position cooking for the Orient Express – a train that ran from Europe to Asia – but someone told me South Africa was looking for people, and it sounded like an adventure. So I boarded a plane to Johannesburg and one week later got a job cooking at a hotel! I ended up spending six years there.

Transitioning from the kitchen to operations was a natural process. For me, there’s no huge difference between being a chef and a general manager. It takes the same basic skills of handling people, managing your budget, and running a business ultimately.

You have to invest in yourself. I went back to school when I transferred from F&B to general management – it was time for me to grow and do something else with my career and that meant gaining the skills and theory to do more.

I first arrived in Asia in 2004 when I got a position in Hilton Shanghai. It was like being in the future where the highways were four levels on top of each other, and that was crazy to me coming from the west.

I’ve been in Hong Kong seven months now. I got a call from a head-hunter and came here to visit the hotel. Hong Kong is somewhat of a dream city for people in my industry, you know, and after I spoke with the hotel owner here and saw what the city has to offer, I called my wife in Shanghai and said “pack your suitcase, we’re moving to Hong Kong”.

The fascinating people I’ve met throughout my career makes me feel I’ve lived a life worth living. When I was a chef at Johannesburg, The Three Tenors came to visit; instead of cooking for Pavarotti, I was invited to his suite and he cooked pasta for me!

One of my most challenging moments was in Egypt when 9/11 happened. I had just been promoted when the tragedy struck. Suddenly from being almost full house the hotel dropped to single-digit occupancy, and it was up to me to handle the situation.

My favourite thing to do in Hong Kong is taking a junk boat around the island. You board in Central and then turn on the island’s corner towards Southside. Suddenly the concrete jungle falls away and you’re out at sea with the greenery of Hong Kong’s country parks within view. Then you end with seafood at Shek O or Stanley – perfect! 

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