AlumniHow I launched my career alongside the launch of a hotel

At the time of the opening, EDITION Hotels was the newest luxury lifestyle brand under Marriott International. IHTTI alumnus Jonathan Keh shares his experiences as a member of the pre-opening team at The Sanya EDITION hotel in China.

What made you decide to embark on your first job as part of a pre-opening team?

The Sanya EDITION is Marriot International’s first property in Asia-Pacific and the idea of being involved in developing a new brand in Asia, was very exciting for me. I enjoyed my pre-opening experience so much, I decided to stay on with the property after my MIT and am now an Assistant Manager for Rooms Operations.

New Hotel in China

I‘m grateful to our Academic Director Mr. Jaco von Wielligh who was very supportive in my career development. As it was my first job I wanted to ensure that I had carefully considered all my options and Mr. Jaco was always there to advise when I needed.

How useful was the hospitality design knowledge you gained at IHTTI?

The design courses I took at IHTTI had a very big impact on allowing me to excel in my MIT program.

In fact my experience during pre-opening was very similar to our Final Year Integrated Project in terms of the technical aspects.

For example, I used AutoCad to plan the telephone extension network of the entire property and I used SketchUp to draft design proposals for Front Desk modifications and a floating table concept for the hotel’s restaurant. As I had some design knowledge, I also worked with the corporate team to style the guestrooms and created a lookbook as standard for the team to follow.

IHTTI grad works at pre-opening hotel

What was the most challenging part of working in a pre-opening hotel?

As the first EDITION property in Asia-Pacific and a relatively new brand in the market, we had to lay the groundwork and build local standard operating procedures from scratch. We also didn’t have any ‘sister property’ in the region to rely on for support so we did not have references or templates to refer to. However, this also allowed us the flexibility to establish new standards and thus set ourselves apart from other luxury brands in the market.

You worked in many areas/departments during your MIT with The Sanya EDITION. How did you manage the different projects simultaneously?

There is no doubt the workload during pre-opening phase is quite intensive but I really enjoyed the fast-paced environment. As we were a small team, I was very motivated and passionate about ensuring that we had a successful opening and that remained my main focus as I moved from project to project.

For many of us in the pre-opening team, it felt like we were working towards opening our own hotel. We took great pride and ownership in everything we did.

How to open a hotel

What has been your most memorable experience since joining The Sanya EDITION?

In the beginning, there was a two-storey building next to the property housing five mock-up rooms. As we didn’t have an office space at that time, we brought in some temporary furniture and converted one of the rooms into an office shared among all 14 members of the pre-opening team. I had the General Manager of the hotel, sitting 5 steps away from me. It took the idea of open concept office to a whole new level and let’s just say we became much closer after this experience!

 
Jonathan Graduate from IHTTI school of hotel management
 

You can find out more about the different projects Jonathan worked on during the pre-opening of the hotel here


Graduate from IHTTI School of Hotel Management

Jonathan graduated from IHTTI in 2016 with a Bachelor’s Degree, International Hospitality and Design Management, First Class Honours

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