Gaylord Lamy proves that if you love what you do, it really does not matter where you work. However, his latest posting — as the general manager at The Langham, Jakarta — is perhaps the most challenging yet
At the time of writing this, Covid-19 cases in Indonesia recorded a staggering 54,000 new cases in one day. This figure is enough to make anyone turn down a job offer in the city of Jakarta. But the one man who said yes to the role of general manager at The Langham is veteran hotelier Gaylord Lamy, who will take up his new position in September.
Why? For Lamy, the lure of working in Southeast Asia outweighs the risk he is prepared to take. He says: “I have always wanted to come to Southeast Asia and when the opportunity was presented to me to come to open The Langham, I naturally said ‘Yes’. I love the people, culture, the diverse landscapes and food in Indonesia. We will recover from the pandemic and the city will resume its vibrancy once we overcome it.”
His optimism is legitimate as The Langham hotel, in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, is strategically located within the prestigious new complex of District 8 at SCBD (Sudirman Central Business District) with easy access and close proximity to the city’s most important financial, cultural and entertainment centres.
The luxury hotel is designed by the Singapore office of Smallwood, Reynolds, Stewart, Stewart (SSRS), has 170 well-appointed rooms and 30 suites that will feature classic but elegantly contemporary interiors, with exacting attention to detail, reflective of the brand’s heritage as one of the premier grand hotels in Europe.
Before Lamy assumes his new position, here is what you need to know: This French national has extensive experience in F&B operations, having previously worked in Hong Kong, Sydney, Paris, Boston and Chicago.
In 2004, he joined Langham Hospitality Group in Hong Kong and held various positions such as director of food and beverage. Prior to that, he was at The Langham, Boston, he then moved on to lead The Langham, Chicago — consistently named one of the best hotels in North America by Forbes, Conde Nast Traveler, and Travel+Leisure.
Most recently, Lamy was the general manager of The Langham, Sydney where he was instrumental in positioning the hotel to be the leading luxury hospitality destination in the city.
Prior to Langham Hospitality Group, he started his career in Paris, with historic hotels such as Le Meridien Etoile and Hotel Meurice.
Lamy holds a degree in food and wine service from Versailles-based Lycee Tecomah and also in bartending from Lycee Auguste Escoffier in Cergy-Pontoise. An avid runner, yoga, and tennis enthusiast, he is fluent in English, French, and Spanish.
Ahead of his assuming his role in Jakarta, Lamy finds time to answer some questions by Options that covers the gamut of how travel will change post-pandemic to the first place he plans on going as soon as border restrictions are lifted.
What from your past experience in the various properties that you have worked in will you bring to your new role?
I have worked in France, Hong Kong, Boston, Chicago, and most recently in Sydney. I would love to share what I have learned from my experience in the different countries — the different F&B concepts and experiences from opening many different restaurants and bars globally, and also sharing stories and best practices in the different cultures. With nearly 20 years working for Langham Hospitality Group, I most look forward to sharing The Langham service culture with the local community.
How would you assure guests of their safety at The Langham, Jakarta?
The safety and health of our guests and colleagues remain our priority.
We remain constantly vigilant and have implemented stringent measures against the spread of the coronavirus. Example, UV light technology to sanitise room keys prior to handing out to guests, electrostatic gun spray in all occupied rooms, paperless and contactless check-in/out technology via Samsotech Mirror, and regular testing of all our colleagues to ensure they are well and healthy.
We have reinforced strict precautionary protocols which include conducting temperature readings for all colleagues, hotel suppliers, and contractors upon arrival at the hotel and frequent disinfection of all areas of the hotel. In addition, automatic hand sanitiser dispensers are placed in lift areas in the lobby, and will also be placed at host stations at the restaurants and bars that are still operational.
Staff who are performing extra cleaning tasks are provided with protective gloves and masks, as are any other colleagues who need or request them.
We are also regularly educating our colleagues and will also administer the same check when we are open with guests to observe good hygiene practices. Additional preventive actions we have taken amongst our colleagues to help avert the spread of Covid-19 include: Washing hands thoroughly with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand sanitiser, maintain social distancing, staying home if feeling unwell and avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.
What sets The Langham, Jakarta apart from your competitors?
Langham, Jakarta is located in Jakarta’s most vibrant district (SCBD), with convenient access to key financial and corporate hubs and offices as well as the finest shopping, entertainment, and recreation facilities. The hotel will feature the finest art and décor, complimented with breath-taking city and skyline views.
The Langham club lounge will be like none other in the city. It is a private and luxurious haven for guests who prefer a discerning level of comfort with panoramic views of Jakarta city.
We will also be bringing to Jakarta some of the best global culinary experiences and dining concepts.
First, we have Tom’s by Tom Aikens. Located on the 62nd floor, the restaurant will feature leather-upholstered seating and elegant chandeliers. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the menu is curated by Britain’s youngest Two Michelin star chef, Tom Aikens.
Alice is located in the hotel lobby, the restaurant will present The Langham’s famous afternoon tea experience which is also curated by Tom Aikens, a delicatessen and boutique bar.
T’ang Court is a signature sister restaurant to three Michelin starred T’ang Court at The Langham, Hong Kong, T’ang Court Jakarta is located on the 61st floor, with seating for 155 guests and six private dining rooms overlooking the city skyline of Jakarta.
Finally, Artesian is a rooftop bar that overlooks the spectacular skyline and takes its name from The Langham, London’s award-winning bar (The World’s Best Bar for four consecutive years).
In the age of the pandemic, what do you think people are looking for when booking a place to stay?
People will be looking for hotels that have stringent and robust hygiene protocols and precautions in place. People will also be looking to take care of themselves more so hotels and resorts with good spas offering health and wellness experiences and retreats will be attractive.
Business travellers would be looking to also extend their stay to have a short holiday after their trip. Business or leisure, they will want to stay in a hotel that has great F&B, from fine dining restaurants, Michelin starred experience, casual and fine dining to great bars.
How will travel change post-pandemic and how will that affect the way people book their accommodation?
People will take longer holidays, take their time to plan and enjoy the destination. They will book more directly with hotels as they would want flexibility to make changes if needs be.
They will also look at hotels where they are comfortable with so they know their preferences and know they will be well taken care of — high care is extremely important.
What, in your opinion, is the Langham DNA?
Passionate about exceptional service, British, a touch of pink, celebratory, promotes artisans, playful, authentic and unpretentious, loving, elegant, timeless and luxurious.
What should a consumer look for when researching a place to stay for work and for holiday?
Location, amenities and people (community). Location — as you would want to be able to get to work easily and for leisure travellers, to get to the places you want to go or visit conveniently.
Amenities — from shopping malls, museums to restaurants (a big plus if there are great bars and destination restaurants at the hotel with a good in-room dining option for the business travellers or the club lounges where guests can have the privacy to dine in quickly without fuss and retreat to at the end of the day).
People — from the hotel staff to the heart of the community in the city.
You have been in the hospitality business for more than 25 years, what are some of the highlights you fondly remember?
I have so many fond memories but some of the best include opening The Langham, Chicago. The hotel is set in a Mies van der Rohe landmark tower with sweeping views of Lake Michigan and it was named the best luxury hotel in Chicago in less than 100 days after it opened.
Another hotel I hold dear to my heart is The Langham, Sydney. This hotel is very special with only 96 rooms, it really is Australia’s finest boutique luxury hotel which is also home to a private Australian art collection worth over a million Australian dollars. The rooms have beautiful harbour views and the hotel is located in the heart of The Rocks district of metropolitan Sydney.
I miss strolling along the quaint cobbled streets amongst the historic brick buildings. I really enjoy having a drink with colleagues or guests at the Observatory Bar at The Langham, Sydney, an experience I look forward to having and sharing at The Langham, Jakarta when the hotel opens at our bars at Tom’s by Tom Aikens and Artesian (namesake of our award-winning, bar in London) our rooftop bar.
When borders open, where is the first place you want to travel to and why?
When the borders open, the first place I would want to travel to is France, to see my family and enjoy some long overdue home cooking. Coming from a French family with Italian background, family meals are always a real treat.
About The Langham, Jakarta
The 223-room Langham will be Langham Hospitality Group’s first property in the region. Combining glamour with urban sophistication, all guest rooms including the 336 square meter Presidential suite marry British charm with modern amenities designed to relax, inspire and surprise.
Leading designer collaborations of SRSS, Wilson Associates and Avroko bring together a combination of the refined, elegant, simple, and pure. The Langham, Jakarta is a true custom-made hotel embodying the best of the East and West. It defies categorisation and simply cannot be placed into a box with its own unique and original identity.
One of the stunning interior high- lights is the dramatic chandelier by Lasvit, renowned creators of brilliant glass installations, highlighting the iconic spiral staircase at the sky lobby on Level 62.
The hotel will also feature exceptional restaurants and bars with celebrity chef partnerships that include Tom’s by Tom Aikens, the culinary maestro who has guided his restaurants to accolades by the Michelin Guide. T’ang Court, inspired by its three Michelin starred Cantonese restaurant namesake at The Langham, Hong Kong, will make its debut in Southeast Asia.
Those who enjoy their tea-time indulgence will love Alice, the all-day dining restaurant and for those who are familiar with the Artesian at The Langham, London — recognised as the World’s Best Bar for several years — will delight in knowing that its latest outpost will be located at the rooftop of The Langham, Jakarta.
The Langham Club lounge on the hotel’s 59th floor will be a private oasis for guests who prefer a discerning level of comfort while enjoying panoramic views of Jakarta City. There is a writer’s corner, a reading library and private arrival and departure fa- cilitates with dedicated butlers for personalised service.