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Hotel Corner

Richard Hatter, General Manager of Hotel ICON

Richard Hatter, General Manager of Hotel ICON shares thoughts on his career and the innovative hotel that he now manages.


I went to school on the Isle of Wight and then at the University of Portsmouth where I studied a Higher National Diploma in hotel, catering and institutional management. I became general manager of the Royal Southern Yacht Club at Southampton, and the deputy general manager of the Treasure Isle hotel on the British Virgin Island of Tortola in 1983. Subsequently I spent 17 years with Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, and I was director of development prior to joining Hotel ICON in 2009.

I was involved in the development of Hotel ICON pretty much from scratch, after the Government agreed to provide this site to the Hong Kong Polytechnic University to build a teaching hotel and the School of Hotel and Tourism Management (SHTM). It’s been a fantastic experience – from conceptualising the design of the building and its facilities, to formulating the hotel’s commercial positioning and its operating strategy, to recruiting the right kind of people to join the business.

Hotel ICON is unique in so many ways. It’s an exceptional hotel with a special purpose: not only does it embody all the creative energy and spirit of Hong Kong, it is also the world’s first integrated teaching and research facilities in a real business environment. As part of the university, we have an important training mission to develop our students to be self-motivated and independent.

Hotel ICON is ranked no. 3 on Trip Adviser’s best hotels in Hong Kong. We position the hotel as one providing affordable luxury and Asian hospitality with a modern twist – I think our ranking reflects the success in achieving that. In a way, Hotel ICON’s success is a direct outcome of our recognition of the increasing influence of OTAs and social media on how hotels operate, and our conscious decision to leverage that from the very beginning.

This has been a great job. I am a director of the board of the hotel. The board, headed by Dr Victor Lo, has been very supportive and allows the hotel a lot of freedom in how it operates. I have full responsibility for the hotel’s commercial and academic objectives. I am also associate professor of SHTM and 25 percent of my time is spent teaching under- and postgraduate students, which is a wonderful part of what I do.

I enjoy the creativity and the freedom of my job to work towards our mission. We use the hotel as a lab to experiment and engage with our guests to bring them happier experiences – we want the hotel to live up to its name and be an icon of Hong Kong, and that is a huge but fun challenge.

I like Hong Kong for its caring, hardworking people. The city is great too, especially for visitors - there are terrific hotels, beaches, wet markets and street vendors.

My three recommendations on what to do in Hong Kong:
1. Visit the markets – the Flower Market, Goldfish Market, and Jade Market,
and others. They are simply fascinating to explore.
2. Buy some good quality tea, or jade or other nice gifts to take home.
3. Explore Hong Kong’s great outdoors – whether it’s a hike or going to an
island, especially in the cooler months.



(Edited on 8 May 2018)


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