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Hotel Corner

Philip Dewar, General Manager of Kowloon Shangri-La Hong Kong

We spoke to Philip Dewar, General Manager, Kowloon Shangri-La Hong Kong, on his career and perspective in the hotel industry.

I grew up in Scotland but went overseas at 11 years old. I was lucky to be taken to nice hotels and restaurants which made a great impression on me. That and my desire to travel abroad drove my interest to join the hospitality industry. I lived in Hong Kong as a teenager and I got a summer job in the kitchen of the New World Hotel, paying me all of $27.5 a day – but I loved it.

I went on a hotel management programme at University of Strathclyde at Glasgow. I then joined a corporate trainee programme offered by the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and started my hotel career. I went into club management for a few years, ran my own business for a while, then re-joined the industry working for the Shangri-la Group where I have been for the last 12 years, working in properties in Hong Kong, Malaysia and China.

Working at the Kowloon Shangri-la has been a real treat. This hotel is such an iconic institution. It’s wonderful to work with such a great group of colleagues; some of them have been here from day one – they are so knowledgeable about their jobs. We have a fantastic location, right in the heart of everything: MTR, shopping, landmarks. In fact, I call our Kowloon Shangri-la the “Hotel with a heart”- it’s a totally inspiring environment to be part of.

We have a diverse and loyal customer base which is a real strength of ours – we’ve businessmen, leisure travellers, young honeymoon couples, families with children ... And they come from all over the world. We have a strong respect for our customer base and we focus on executing the fundamentals of hospitality to anticipate and serve their needs – something we are proud of.

Social media and the internet have affected our industry – it’s a challenge but also opportunity. The business is more last-minute in nature and our responses need to be more timely. It’s an opportunity since we also learn much more about our guests which we can use in a positive and respectful way to better serve their needs.

My favourite part of the job is the sheer diversity of what I do. I still enjoy talking to our guests and colleagues in the lobby – you really need to like people in this job. But being involved in everything from social media and marketing campaigns to F&B – it’s like running so many different businesses, which I love.

Hong Kong is a fantastic city. What impresses is its diversity in such a small footprint. We have world-class food, shopping from A to Z, rich heritage and diverse countryside – and you can experience all of them within 15 or 20 minutes of the city. Perhaps the challenge is to communicate all that we offer most effectively.

My three recommendations for visitors to Hong Kong: Try the excellent Crispy Chicken at our Shang Palace, but also check out the street food like egg waffles or curry fishballs; explore the countryside whether it’s Sai Kung or a beach; and visit a seafood restaurant, say in Sai Kung or Lamma island, as part of your visit.



(Edited on 5 Jan 2018)


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