Keraton at The Plaza, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Jakarta recently appoints its first female General Manager, Mrs. Cora Stuart. She brings over 30 years of experience in hospitality management across a variety of five-star properties in Singapore, Boston, Middle East, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines.
A Singaporean hotelier, Cora first began her career as an Assistant Tea Room Manager at The Westin Stamford and Westin Plaza in Singapore; to then expand her skills in Sales and Marketing as Convention Sales Manager. In 1997, she took on her first Director of Sales role at The Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore. Since then, Cora has worked for several Marriott International properties including; The Ritz-Carlton, Boston, The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain and Bvlgari Resort Bali.
What makes you interested in the hotel industry?
It was a deal I made with myself, that the first company that would sponsor me for my studies would be the company I would work for. Because I didn’t come from a rich family, and I wanted to further my studies. And the first company that pay for my studies would be the company I world work for. And by chance it happened to be a hotel company, Westin at that time in Singapore.
They offered me a scholarship to study hotel management for six years. I took it and it was how it started.
Tell us about your journey…
So I was in food and beverages. I started off as a waitress and and a captain. It grew to be an assistant manager then a restaurant manager, but then I felt like I needed a change. I wanted to move and grow my experience.
One of my mentor actually spotted me and say you should try sales. Sales? I don’t know what sales is about.
From the Westin I moved to Shangri-La in Singapore and then to Ritz Carlton. With the Ritz-Carlton I was in Singapore and then I went to Boston to Bahrain, and then I move to Bvlgari in Bali. And these all for sales and marketing
I took a couple of months break to study and then I had an opportunity to join Starwood in their regional office is in Dubai and I worked there for just over two years.
And all this I have been 15 years away from home. When I finally decided to move back to Singapore, I got a job as a Chief Operating Officer for a new company that wanted to open a new hotel in Asia. So instead of staying in Singapore, I started travelling again. This time I was away for most of the week. And I didn’t feel like that was what I wanted to do, I wanted to spend time with family. So I decided to stop the job and stayed home to take care of my ill father and I was doing that for couple of months.
And all this ‘addiction’ started. that I needed to go back into the hotel industry. An opportunity came up to me to be the GM of Keraton at The Plaza in Indonesia. So that started five moths ago and I don’t regret it at all. It’s a great experience. I think I came to Jakarta in a very right time.
What experience are you creating in Keraton?
I think if you look at what the word means, Keraton is inspired by the Javanese world for palace. So you have the platform of the hotel that inspired the experience. But if you look at the brand promise of luxury collection hotels, which Keraton is part of. Luxury Collections hotels inspire our guests to feel the experience of the destination. The indigenous charm of this particular destination. So every luxury collection hotel offers that experience.
In this hotel, it is an experience of combination between modern, but it is an interpretation of traditional Javanese and Indonesian culture. So that’s what we offer as the brand. Then you got to then enliven it through our staffs and in what we offer as a service. So that takes you through in small touches. We think about what the guests want, but at the same time how you bring the feeling that they are in Jakarta, Indonesia. We always try to marry the brand and experience the guest want to get.
So I guess my job is to inspire that in the team. To inspire the fact that we want to give our guests that experience of it being different. They come here, they busy, but suddenly you give that feeling of being in Jakarta. Pick up the foods, and they taste different. They get the sense of spices people talked about in Indonesia and so on. So that’s what’s luxury collection tries to do, to inspire that feeling that you experience the indigenous charm of a location.
What’s New Jakarta would like to thank Cora Stuart and her team for the time spared for the interview. For more information about Keraton at The Plaza Jakarta, visit www.keratonattheplazajakarta.com