Self-proclaimed millennial and General Manager of Oakwood Suites La Maison Jakarta, Christian Jacob, aspires to be a role model for his staff as well as Indonesia’s younger hotelier generation.
Indonesia Expat sat down at one of South Jakarta’s exclusive, fully-serviced properties that’s located around the lively area of Blok M with this true-to-self and bubbly man, and discussed his approach as a younger leader dealing with older staff and how sometimes, less is better.
Can you please describe Oakwood Suite La Maison’s property?
Oakwood itself is an American brand and Oakwood Jakarta is under Oakwood Asia-Pacific that comprises Korea, China, and even Australia. Oakwood Suites La Maison Jakarta is a five-star property within the Blok M area. This is an exclusive property where there are 80 units; there are two- and three-bedroom apartments with modern interiors and state-of-the-art appliances. If you compare Oakwood properties with hotels, it is quite different because Oakwood’s property is bigger and luxurious; there are living rooms, kitchens and dry kitchens, laundry rooms, dining areas, balconies, and individual elevators to reach a resident’s room.
When it comes to guests wanting to have an event here, there’s a space similar to a meeting room open for the public called Oak Rooms; it opened a month ago. There’s an Executive Lounge but this is reserved for residents only because keeping the property’s privacy and exclusivity is vital.
At the moment, there are no competitors because it’s mostly five-star hotels in South Jakarta but I heard Intercontinental Hotel is opening its residence soon – next to the hotel – by the end of 2019, so maybe that will be Oakwood’s future competitor.
Since these long-stay customers are mostly expats, how are their stay experiences constantly being improved?
At least 80 percent of the customers are expats; 50 percent are Japanese, and the rest are Malaysian, Indian, Singaporean, Australian, French, and a few Americans. These residents are long-term guests with a minimum one month stay because this property offers two- and three-bedrooms that are all fully serviced and come with a housekeeping service three times a week. But since 2017, several rooms have been open for daily stays like a hotel but with a fully serviced apartment experience.
How did you start your career in the hospitality industry?
I love to serve people and my goal is to make my guests feel happy from my service. I’m happy if I made them happy. This is why I’ve always wanted to be a hotelier.
I graduated from the University of Merdeka, Malang in 2004. For the past 14 years, I have moved around hotels in Jakarta and even to Medan and Surabaya. I started my career by working as a waiter for a year. I moved to Grand Mahakam Hotel Jakarta for one year, and after that I moved to Wyndham Hotel Jakarta (then known as Park Lane Hotel) as a Guest Relations Supervisor, Pullman Central Park as a Duty Manager, Santika Hotel Medan as Front Office Manager, then eventually being promoted to the Director of Sales of what was then known as Pullman Surabaya – or Wyndham Surabaya now. It’s been two years since I became Oakwood La Maison’s GM, but before this, I got appointed as the GM in Holiday Inn Express Wahid Hasyim for a year as well as Grand Ussu Puncak Hotel for two years.
You consider yourself as a millennial GM. Now, what are the challenges you face as one?
I don’t really have a lot of challenges, except for being a leader to a few older associates. Since I’m younger than them, it tends to feel strange and quite challenging. But I strongly believe that with good leadership and setting good examples towards my older and younger staff, I can handle my team.
Although you still have a lot to learn, is there a lesson that became so important to you throughout your career?
I’ve learned a lot of things here because Oakwood is a small property when you compare it to hotels. I have fewer staff here – there are only 50 – since it’s a simple property without any restaurants and ballrooms. One thing’s for sure, I learned to become a father for my staff as I teach them one by one – it really feels like a family.
What are the five words you want to be known for?
Become my team’s role model. Why this? Well, international chain hotels are mostly led by expatriates but it’s nice to know a five-star residency is led by an Indonesian. So I want to give an example to the younger hotelier generation, especially Indonesians, that it’s possible to be a luxurious, international brand’s GM.
As someone rich with Indonesian heritage, how do you honour your Dayak, Ambon and Toraja cultures?
I am proud to be from different cultures. I was born in Riau, my father is from Ambon and my mother is from Dayak-Toraja. I’ve learned a lot of culture from each province so I believe in being honest with myself.
What do you do to unwind?
I like to take holidays. I prefer going overseas such as to Kuala Lumpur or Singapore because domestic flight fares are ridiculous nowadays.