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Hotel Corner

Duncan Palmer, Managing Director of The Murray, Hong Kong, a Niccolo Hotel

Duncan Palmer, Managing Director of The Murray, Hong Kong, a Niccolo Hotel, shares his thoughts on his career and the new luxury hotel he now manages.

I am an Englishman and grew up as one of five children. We travelled a lot and, when staying at hotels, I quite enjoyed the breakfast and all that fancy silverware and thought what a life that would be. I was educated at Cambridge and then London, after which I decided to join the hotel industry as a career, where I have worked ever since.

All my experiences have been with luxury hotels. I first worked in London, then Dubai, before joining the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong to help open the Excelsior. This was followed by stints in Macau, Manila, Bangkok and Jakarta. Then I returned to the UK, worked for the Savoy group managing the iconic Connaught. I then joined Great Eagle Group, managed the Langham in London, the Langham in Hong Kong, was responsible for planning of several Langham hotels across the world, went back to London again before I was appointed by the Wharf Group in 2016 to help develop and manage The Murray.

The Murray is best described as a contemporary, chic hotel – with an air of sophistication, serving the very top of luxury hotel market. We are a standalone luxury hotel located in the heart of Central with five bars and restaurants that act as one of the social gathering places for the community.

The Murray enjoys a distinguished architectural heritage. As part of our redevelopment, we took advantage of the high ceilings and opened up the public spaces. We created very large windows, each measuring 1.9 by 1.8 metres, which complement very well the 45-degree angled façade of the building. Each room has two of these windows, offering spectacular views of parks, green hills and open space. The result is a distinctive luxury hotel and a building that we are proud of, a tribute to the community from our Chairman. We want a stay at the Murray to be a truly special experience for our guests.

My favourite part of the job is to be part of this team which aims to make Murray an iconic hotel not only in Hong Kong, but the world, and I have the responsibility to make it happen. I enjoy it when I get good comments from guests on what we’ve done.

A good general manager needs to be able to articulate to colleagues a common vision for the hotel and provide clear guidelines as to how to achieve it. It’s like climbing the Matterhorn, where you need an approach plan and for everybody to know their roles and be 100 percent engaged to drive towards that singular mission.

Hong Kong is an exciting city. I like the speed of things and the energy of Hong Kong people. It’s easy to get around – the public transport is great. Best yet, we have this wonderful combination of city, green hills and water.

My recommendations for visitors to Hong Kong:
1. Put on your walking shoes and explore Hong Kong’s hills, beaches and outdoors.
2. Get on the water – take a ferry or get on a boat
3. Enjoy Hong Kong’s epicurean delights – we have great dim sum and afternoon tea, and more.



(Edited on 5 Jun 2018)


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