Mandapa a Ritz Carlton Reserve, Ubud Bali
A seasoned hotelier who has over two decades of experience with luxury hospitality management, Masanori Hosoya is now the Vice President of Luxury Properties in Indonesia for Marriott International while concurrently serving as the general manager of Mandapa, a Ritz Carlton Reserve in Bali. TNA files this interview from the Island of the Gods.
1. Tell us about your start with hospitality? What made you decide on a career path in this industry?
Initially, I didn't plan on working in hotels. Growing up, I helped out at my father’s golf course business in Spain, spending weekends on the course and in the restaurant. Though I thought about being a dentist in high school, I ended up studying biochemistry at university because I loved science and cared about the environment. Hospitality wasn't on my radar during university, but my experience with guests on the golf course and my passion for restaurants made me consider opening a Japanese restaurant in Spain. With my Japanese background and European experience, I returned to Japan to explore Japanese cuisine. My journey in the hotel industry began when I joined one of Tokyo's finest hotels, starting as a waiter in a famous restaurant. That's how I got into the trade.
2. You have a very unique upbringing straddling 2 countries and cultures. Do you think you'd be a different person if you didn't grow up in Spain?
Certainly, my formative years in both Spain and Japan have profoundly influenced the individual I've become today. The unique blend of cultural experiences has woven a diverse tapestry of values and traditions that I incorporate into different facets of my life. While I have stronger roots in Japan, having been born there, my childhood unfolded in Spain, where I forged numerous friendships. I immersed myself in Spanish culture, yet I never lost sight of my Japanese identity. My parents are Japanese, and I take pride in narrating the positive interplay between these two cultures.
3. When we think of Japan we think of great aesthetics and an extreme focus on details. Are you finding parallels in your Balinese adventures?
In both cultures, there is a profound appreciation for the beauty found in simplicity, a commitment to craftsmanship, and a deep connection to nature. The indigenous traditions and culture coexist seamlessly, leaving room for continuous innovation within this dynamic fusion of two remarkable elements. I find them to be incredibly compatible, forming a harmonious blend. This comprehensive approach of integrating cultural and spiritual facets into everyday life mirrors the Japanese philosophy that perceives the ordinary as an art form.
4. What do you think is fundamentally different and similar about the Balinese and the Japanese concept of hospitality? How do you meld the two?
Both Balinese and Japanese cultures share profound traditions of hospitality, yet Bali stands apart. The hospitality in Bali is distinctly genuine, setting it apart from other cities in Indonesia. While there are unique characteristics to each, there are also fundamental similarities. In Japan, it’s all starts with respect. It tends to have a formal aspect, with a strong focus on respectful gestures and rituals when it comes to the traditions. By embracing the best of both Balinese and Japanese hospitality, I can create a unique and memorable experience that reflects the richness of these two cultural traditions.
5. Indonesia, particularly Bali and Jakarta, is such a hotbed for luxury hotels. Whereas in the past 5-stars hotels mostly compete with each other, today the scene is more 'up in the air' with luxury class hotels vying for business with lifestyle and designer class hotels alike. What is your gameplan to set Marriott's luxury hotels apart from competitors across the field?
Luxury is a multifaceted concept that has so many colors, evident in the DNA of our brands, thus we need to strengthen our personality. With a selection of luxurious properties in Bali and Jakarta, we aim to appeal to a diverse range of travelers seeking tranquility, traditions, and various other experiences. Developing a distinctive position for Marriott's luxury hotels in the competitive landscape of Bali and Jakarta requires a thoughtful strategy that goes beyond traditional offerings from these:
1. Unique Brand Identity:
Each brand/property needs to hold an initiative campaign that sets them apart from competitors.
2. Local Cultural Integration:
Embrace and celebrate the rich cultural heritage of Bali and Jakarta. Infuse local elements into the hotel and resort experience, from architecture and interior design to culinary offerings and cultural events. This creates an authentic and immersive experience for guests.
3. Sustainable Luxury:
Position Marriott's luxury hotels as pioneers in sustainable luxury. Implement eco-friendly practices, source locally, and showcase a commitment to environmental responsibility. Today's luxury travelers often prioritize sustainability, and this can be a unique selling point.
6. What are your honest feelings about Bali and what do you like most about the island?
I find immense joy in my life in Bali. Each day, I strive to deepen my understanding of the rich traditions this island has to offer. I have a penchant for exploring new things, often discovering them through the people I encounter.
7. After Bali, do you have a wishlist of places you'd like to be based in?
The company consistently provided me with excellent destinations to live and work in. While I lean towards mountainous areas rather than beaches, my ideal location must be culturally rich, steep in tradition, and offer delightful gastronomic experiences.
8. Your passion is clearly on FnB. Could you give us some recommendations in Indonesia that are your must-visit restaurants?
Being a hotelier grants me easy access to hotel food, and while I appreciate it, my true passion lies in exploring local traditions and trying the authentic cuisine that locals usually go. Whether in Japan or Bali, I tend to favor local establishments over big names. My picks in Bali are Ambar Ubud Bar at Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Si Jin in Seminyak and Locavore in Ubud.