The best hotels require the skills of the best hoteliers, and since 2016, Thomas Schmitt-Glaeser has been the man upholding the reputation of one of Thailand’s most prestigious properties, The Sukhothai Bangkok. An industry veteran with more than 25 years’ experience in Europe and Asia, Thomas is known for his ability to deliver the highest standards of service to satisfy the most demanding of guests.
Thomas began his journey into hospitality with a master’s degree in the field from the Hotel Bavaria Management School in Altoetting, Germany. His career began in Europe, where he played a part in the launch of the legendary Hotel Aldon Kempinski in Berlin before moving to Asia with the Shangri-La Hotel Group, with whom he spent over ten years in Shanghai, Singapore, Beijing, Hong Kong, and Bangkok. He is now responsible for taking The Sukhothai to new heights, and kindly agreed to tell Hotelintel.co the secrets behind his success.
What's the most challenging aspect of running your hotel?
Bangkok is significantly increasing its 5-star hotel rooms inventory year on year and service employees are highly sought after. Building employee loyalty has become one of the key tasks of a General Manager today. The other very important competency of a General Manager in Bangkok is to be a specialist in the fields of sales, marketing, and social media to be able to drive occupancy and restaurant revenues for the hotel.
What does 'luxury' mean to you? How does 'The Sukhothai' luxury differ from others? What do you offer that others don't?
The definition of luxury is different for every individual human being. We – as hoteliers – need to anticipate these expectations and cater to all of them at the same time. That is the art of true hospitality. The Sukhothai with its 6 acres of lotus ponds and gardens offers a unique value proposition, something no other 5-star hotel in Bangkok has: space! In a congested and noisy metropolitan city, this is pure luxury to me!
If The Sukhothai was a person, what kind of a character would it be?
For me The Sukhothai would definitively be a lady of timeless beauty and elegance, the highest standards, and being admired for many generations to come: Grace Kelly
Your service is outstanding. Your staff are very attentive not only to me as media but to everyone equally. How do you keep them motivated at work?
Many large international chain hotels make the mistake that they overburden their employees with standards and procedures in order to create consistency. As a consequence, they very often create ‘clones’ who become cold and at times ‘robotic’. Here at The Sukhothai, we have created a very simple set of rules and standards everybody understands and can easily follow. The rest we leave to the individual employee and allow them to be as natural as possible. Hiring the right person in the first place is as well part of the secret to success.
Do you believe in the work-life balance? How do you keep it balanced?
If you love what you do, work is not really stressful. Despite that, everybody of course needs ‘downtime’ and to find that in Bangkok is not really difficult. I do a lot of sports, be it in the gym or running in Lumpini Park. The great Thai massages help as well.
What's your advice for hoteliers who want to be in the luxury sector?
Be passionate, do not compromise on quality, and take good care of your people!