Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa general manager, Joost Heymeijer, is a hotel lifer. He gives Brad Foster and readers some insights into the hotel management business and its future.
Q. What was your first job in the hotel business and when?
A. I worked as a pot washer, potato peeler and floor cleaner when I was 14 in a Belgium bistro in my hometown in the Netherlands… I was hooked!
Q. What attracted you to the hospitality industry?
A. I loved the discipline and massive learning curve plus the opportunity to have a rewarding respected career making people happy.
Q. Can you give a brief outline on where (in the world) you have worked?
A. The Netherlands, USA, Abu Dhabi and Australia.
Q. What has working in the hotel business given you that you don’t think you could have achieved in any other profession?
A. JOY! So many layers, so many facets, so many opportunities of specialisation, so many cultures and countries – marvellous!
Q. What do you like about it?
A. Meeting new people every day, training young people to be the next generation of ambassadors for our industry.
Q. What do you dislike?
A. It takes its toll on family life – in my current role 80 to 90 per cent of my time I am away from my family.
Q. No doubt you’ve been involved in many events in the various venues you work in. Do you have a favourite? Why?
A. I project managed Holland Heineken House during the Sydney 2000 Olympics – what a riot! Ask anyone who was there, it was the best party venue in Australia!
Q. Most famous guest?
A. At Wolgan – that I am allowed to talk about… Michael Clarke, Shane Warne, Bob Geldof, Delta Goodrem, Bob Hawke, Hamish and Zoe Blake…. But there are so many more that I cannot mention!
Q. How has the business changed?
A. At the start of construction in 2007 the word GFC did not exist – at opening in 2009 we were in the midst of it! With an exchange rate and our dollar at $ 1.05… where are the leisure international guests?
Q. Funniest/strangest guest request?
A. “Can I have a not too milky latte please…?”
Q. The Aussie dollar has now fallen? Does this change anything?
A. If it goes down further it will still take 12 to 18 months for the international market to respond.
Q. If you had to pick a country for service excellence what would it be and why?
A. Still Germany/Switzerland I would say – too stiff often, but incredibly proud and knowledgeable.
Q. How do us Aussies fare on the world stage?
A. Superb – we can be very proud. We now need to develop a service excellence, not just chefs. The service side of our hotels and restaurants need a boost – it is such a great and rewarding career.