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“What is also very important is


that, as an Okura hotel, we bring new business to Macau. That is especially what we are looking for; not to take just a piece of the existing action, but to actually grow the market.”


Summer revival One would expect that some of the new patrons would be from Japan, where brand awareness of Okura is very high. According to data from the Statistics and Census Service, Japa- nese accounted for around 3 percent of hotel guests in Macau last year. However, after the earthquake


and tsunami in Japan in March, out- bound tourism “has de nitely been a little bit slower” than  rst expected, Mr Dubbelaar concedes. But he is hopeful. “We think this


summer the market from Japan will completely be back,” he says. “Being an Okura hotel and Japanese visitors being familiar with our brand, our quality service and our accommoda- tions, we would certainly go above that [3 percent]. I would be happy with 10 percent at  rst.” On the food and beverage front,


there are some improvements to be made at Hotel Okura Macau, Mr Dubbelaar admits. “The Japanese restaurant, Yama-


eral manager and is now in charge of the Macau hotel. These are the only two Okura hotels in greater China. Mr Dubbelaar says there were no similarities whatsoever between the opening of the two


Not the usual manager H


hotels. “The time was different. Twenty-two years ago in China it was a different thing and Shanghai was in its infancy of development. It also required a different approach to selecting, hiring, training employees, building,” he recalls. “Twenty-two years onwards, coming to Macau is a distinct thing. There is experience here.


There is already an established local hospitality scene.” Born in the Netherlands, Mr Dubbelaar has a degree in hospitality management. He started


his hotel career with Okura Hotels and Resorts in 1979, at the Hotel Okura Amsterdam, and has never left the group. He was appointed the project leader and general manager of Hotel Okura Macau in April 2008. It “is highly unusual” that someone stays so long with a company in the hotel sector, Mr Dub-


belaar admits. He is also one of the very few top managers in Okura Hotels and Resorts that are not Japanese. Now, a secret: Mr Dubbelaar is far from being  uent in Japanese. He understands and


speaks only “a little bit”, he says. “It is a language that is not just consisting of words. It is much more than that. One needs to


be able to read between the lines more than the lines themselves.” His advice is to get a good interpreter.


JULY 2011


zato, our signature restaurant, has performed beyond expectation in the  rst month and that is encouraging, especially in times when Japanese restaurants have been suffering in this part of China,” he says. However,


armen Dubbelaar can, in a way, be considered the Okura Hotels and Resorts man in China. He was involved in the preparations for the opening of its Shanghai hotel as assistant gen-


rant, a fusion-style outlet serving meals in traditional Japanese bento boxes “could do a lot better”. Mr Dubbelaar explains: “It is a sizeable restaurant, [but] people don’t know it yet. We still need to do a lot of work on promotion and marketing.” The same can be said about the Sakazuki Sake Bar, which has also had a “slow start”.


Apart from problems on the de-


mand side, the hotel’s food and bev- erage services have had supply issues, caused by the nuclear calamity in Ja- pan that followed the earthquake and tsunami, which made it harder to im- port Japanese ingredients. The solu- tion was to look for different suppliers in other parts of Japan or even in other countries, Mr Dubbelaar says.


the Terrace Restau-


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