When Australia was celebrating its bicentennial in 1988, a young Gordon Fuller having already been in the hotel industry for almost eight years had just started as Assistant Front Office Manager at the Hyatt Regency Coolum on Australia’s Sunshine Coast. 30 Years later, Gordon’s relationship with Hyatt has remained unbroken - numerous properties and several continents later, his most recent post over the past almost five years as General Manager at Bangkok’s iconic Grand Hyatt Erawan hotel has seen Gordon himself become an icon amongst hoteliers in the Land of Smiles. Born in Niu Gini and raised in Sydney Australia Gordon’s affiliations include being an active member of the Bangkok Rotary Club, an Officier Maître Hôtelier with the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, a member of the l’Order des Coteaux de Champagne and la Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin. When he isn’t running hotels, he enjoys walking and hiking. In 2010, he completed the Hong Kong Oxfam Maclehose Trailwalker.
Having been with the company for over 30 years now, what has kept you there? Can you tell us about your first day as a hotelier?
I was fortunate to work at the Sebel Townhouse Hotel in Sydney, Australia in the early 80’s. The hotel enjoyed an international reputation for its intimacy and attention, and hotel associates were encouraged to meet all guest requests no matter how difficult. At this time, the Sebel Townhouse was the ‘home’ of the Australian music industry. It was normal to see Australian artists just ‘hanging out’ with touring guests like Elton John, David Bowie and Dire Straits. This was my experience until I joined the newly opened Regent of Sydney in 1982 in the Finance division as a management trainee. My journey with Hyatt started in 1988 in Queensland, Australia. Hyatt offered me what they called ‘training for your future’, and remains as committed to training today, as they were in 1988. The family spirit at Hyatt remains strong with long tenure being the norm, and I am proud to refer to myself as a member of the Hyatt family. At Hyatt, we look at situations through a lens of care. Hyatt challenged me and rewarded me with opportunities in Australia, Chile, Hong Kong and now Bangkok, and as a result, I have enjoyed being a General Manager with Hyatt for the past 20 years. It is for these reasons that I have remained with Hyatt for over 30 years.
What does it mean to be a 'True Hotelier'?
A true hotelier must love dealing with people. A true hotelier will create an environment that is fun, and is purpose-driven and brand-led. As a hotel has many moving parts, it is imperative that a true hotelier appreciates the importance of each part, and that his/her team members are clear of their role and aligned with other associates to achieve a successful outcome. A true hotelier must be passionate, creative, humble and curious. A true hotelier is always available for all stakeholders.
What's most challenging about being a hotelier?
Because a hotel operates 24/7, it is important for the General Manager or aspirational executive to establish a work / life balance. This of course is easier said than done. Some owning companies will require the General Manager or senior executive(s) to live in the hotel. This makes achieving such a balance more difficult – not impossible, but more difficult than living outside. The senior executive that lives in the hotel, may end up seeing more of their family than the senior executive that lives out.
What are the top three skills any hotel General Manager should have?
A General Manager should:
Lead with respect;
Be an effective negotiator;
Listen to all stakeholders without jumping to conclusions;
What book are you currently reading?
It is usual for me to enjoy several books at a time. I have just finished ‘I’m Off Then’ by Hape Kerkeling as I am interested in walking the Camino de Santiago in 2019. I have been recommended ‘A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago’ by John Brierley. Added to this I am enjoying ‘The MONOCLE Guide to Hotels, Inns and Hideaways’, and ‘The Mafia in Havana’ by Enrique Cirules.