橫琴誌 | HENGQIN RECORD

General Manager of The St. Regis Zhuhai, Juan Samso

Interview with Juan Samso,​ General Manager of The St. Regis Zhuhai

Hengqin Record sat down with General Manager of The St. Regis Zhuhai, Juan Samso, to discuss the only luxury hotel in Hengqin ahead of its upcoming launch.

Originally from Barcelona, Spain, Juan Samso began his hospitality career with Marriott International in 1999. Before coming to Zhuhai he was General Manager of The Ritz-Carlton, Macau and prior to that was Hotel Manager for The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong.

Juan was appointed General Manager of The St. Regis Zhuhai, the first ever international luxury hotel in Hengqin New Area, in July last year, where his luxury hospitality management experience has been vital in preparing China’s 10th St. Regis branded hotel for launch.

Juan shared his views on the future of the luxury hospitality industry in Hengqin and the Greater Bay Area with Hengqin Record.

Hengqin Record: What made you decide to move from Macau to Zhuhai?

JS: When I was living in Macau, I was always looking at this building (Zhuhai Tower where The St. Regis Zhuhai covers the 41st to 72nd floors) from my home in Macau’s Ocean Gardens and wondering what they were doing there.

I came to Zhuhai for shopping and visited Chimelong but I didn’t really know what was going on in this building until Marriott and Starwood merged and they offered me the GM position of The St. Regis Zhuhai.

When I started to read about St. Regis I thought it was super cool so after 18 years with The Ritz Carlton, I thought it would be good for my career and development to challenge myself with another brand. That’s why I came.

I tried to adapt and understand what the brand “St. Regis” is all about, which is crucial. And I hired people who have worked in a St. Regis hotel before to guide me and help me on that process, to make sure we protect the brand.

I wanted to bring new ideas while having key people maintain the brand and I think the result is very interesting. I can take advantage of both hotels and cultures.

HQR: There are still many buildings under construction in this area. Are you worried about whether there will be enough clients when you first open?

JS: We’re super confident in the area – so confident that the group will be bringing a few more hotel brands to Hengqin. It looks like so far we’re the only one, but there is definitely a niche market for luxury consumers. If you’re living in Zhuhai and looking for some kind of luxury experience, you can only go to Macau or Hong Kong, but once we open this St. Regis Zhuhai you won’t need to go anywhere else.

The whole area of the Pearl River Delta, with the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge open soon, is going to be one of the key areas for China connecting Hong Kong and Macau and we will make that connection together.

It is much better here in Hengqin than it was two years ago when the Sheraton opened. We have a mix of individual customers and group customers and for individual customers we are just 10 minutes away from Chimelong. If you see the market around us, it has been increasing every year; people see the advantage of coming here.

If you’re a unique luxury hotel like us, if you provide the unique experience, the incredible F&B experience, if you have a nice bar and view on the top of the building … if you create a destination like this, it should be okay. We just need to get the word out and make people understand that we’re special.

HQR: Do you think there will be competition between The St. Regis Zhuhai and Macau’s luxury hotels, especially those in Taipa?

JS: I think it’s a positive challenge. Macau is a unique destination and it is different in many ways. Chinese visitors can only stay seven days there and when they come back to mainland China from Macau, we’re just next door.

We can be seen from all across Macau. We have good prices, we’re the highest building here – higher than Macau Tower – and clients can come to stay for a night or simply to enjoy a nice dinner or a drink with a great view.

I think its super positive to have Macau next door and I want to take advantage of that.

HQR: What is your opinion about what defines luxury and more specifically luxury hotels?

JS: To me a luxury hotel is firstly going to be a hotel with qualified service, meaning it’s personalized, well-presented with well-trained staff, meeting any anticipations that guests need. None of these details are easy to execute.

When you arrive at The St. Regis Zhuhai, our staff are already waiting to take your luggage and when you arrive upstairs, you can expect that we have properly prepared your room. We know what you want and cater to your own special needs.

The combination of many elements, for me, is luxury: the design, the space, the big room, our butler service, the flowers, the smell, the F&B experience and more. Everyone can offer the client a a glass of coke, but how you develop the execution, that’s what defines luxury.

Luxury is something that is unique and it’s what will make you crave this brand. When you buy a Rolls-Royce, you’re buying the brand’s package. And that’s the secret that keeps people loyal to the brand. If a hotel can create something similar, then it will have achieved luxury.

The team of The St. Regis Zhuhai
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