Sukamal Mondal has been General Manager at the Shama Lakeview Asoke for a little less than a year, having previously managed the Shama Sukhumvit Bangkok and the Oriental Residence Bangkok. Sukamal has now been with Onyx Hospitality for more than a decade, prior to that he was working with Marriott for the first twelve years of a career which has flourished in China and Thailand.
What's the most challenging aspect of running Shama Lakeview?
The Shama Lakeview Asoke has recently been through a rebranding process while the property was still in full operation. I wouldn’t say that it was easy, however, I want to share some secrets: There were two aspects – our valued guests and our team members. We have been able to welcome both valued guests and also team members from the previous operator and I have to admit that by following our Onyx core values our executive team has done a great job.
The secret was that we magnified their strengths, not weaknesses. I think this is one of the challenges as a general manager. We must find ways to develop our people to thrive in this new culture without too much pressure, so they can bring fun to work and also still touch the basic hallmarks of our Shama brand.
There are many properties like Shama Lakeview (being a hotel/serviced apartment). What advantages do you have that others may not have?
You might have heard about our Shama Lifestyle, which is called “Live without Boundaries”. Under this concept we not only focus on excellent services but also on guest experiences when they stay with us. There is a program that grants our guests everything through a “hood tour” to familiarize themselves with the local culture, lifestyle venues and amenities, residents’ activities in our friendly community, and recommendations for hidden gems in the area that span all aspects of living so that our guests can make the most of their new city and live like a local.
What do you love most about being a hotelier?
When I was teenager I had dreams, and those dreams were actually not to be a hotelier. I could have been a flight attendant, or perhaps working in the fashion industry which are more in line with my personal passion and style, but you know it’s quite difficult to choose just one when you fall in love with many things. So, I created a better way! I've chosen to be a hotelier. Because if you are a hotelier, you dress well, you speak well, and you live well – it’s all connected. In a way my dreams are still alive and I love it.
“Every day is a fashion show to me and our world is our runway, so always dress your best and give the best.”
You started your career young, so how did you manage people who were older than you? What’s your management style?
In my opinion, the way to make people respect you is you need to respect them. My team is my No. 1 priority, and that’s why I focus a lot on team member activities, not only working with them but also sharing with them, and playing with them. I believe that if you make your team happy, they will transfer that happiness to the guests. I always believed in “hiring the right candidate for right position,” and also believe in giving continuous support to their learning and development. If they “do the right thing,” we will get the right results.
What’s one thing you think the industry could do better?
I always believe in creativity and I try to develop my team to be creative people. As I mentioned earlier, we do our “Live without Boundaries” lifestyle, and create many activities for our guests which make us different and unique. Nowadays, we are in a digital and technological era. One thing that will help keep our hospitality industry alive is our people. If our people have creative thinking, I think this industry will be able to grow more and more.
A quote you live by when your day gets rough?
“Sometimes when things are falling apart, they may actually be falling into place.”