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RICHARD HATTER – CAREER HIGHLIGHTS A


s proof we all have to start somewhere, Hatter’s career in hospitality began in Southsea, where he combined a job as a bottle washer at the Pendragon Hotel with the position of waiter at Southsea’s Playboy Club and Casino. Born in the UK but raised in Singapore, Tanzania and Ghana, Hatter completed his undergraduate studies in hotel catering and institutional management at the University of Portsmouth. Having decided on a career in hotel management, he took on management positions with luxury hotel groups in the UK, Caribbean, Bahrain and Bangkok, including with Gulf Hotels and Dusit Thani Hotels and Resorts. As assistant


manager at Treasure Isle Hotel in The British Virgin Islands, Hatter met Richard Branson by chance, when he was windsurfi ng past Branson’s Necker Island Resort. For 17 years, Hatter worked for Shangri-La Hotels & Club Resorts; the last four as director of development, where he was responsible for driving the repositioning of Shangri-La hotels in many of China’s second-tier cities, as well as in Singapore, Fiji, The Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Hong Kong. According to Hatter, a key point in his career was in 2000 when he was invited by the owner of Shangri-La to manage one of the Kuak family’s private leisure clubs in Hong Kong, The Aberdeen Marina Club – one of the most prestigious clubs in Hong Kong.


Hatter introduced a family concept, including a children’s play centre based on a concept from his home town of Portsmouth, called Adventure Zone. It was a great success; membership grew and it led to his role as a director at Shangri-La.


LET’S GET PERSONAL RICHARD HATTER


What are the biggest lessons that you’ve taken from your corporate hotel career into your current role? Believe in yourself and don’t get drawn into ‘corporate hype’. You need to have a strong sense of who you are and what you can offer, because you can’t expect others to have it for you.


Do you have any advice for those entering the hotel industry? Every job you take will give invaluable experience in some way, so don’t worry that your fi rst job is your only chance to set the path for your career and future. I’ve worked for both some horrendous and some amazing bosses, who became mentors. As a college graduate entering the industry the key is to be a confi dent, passionate communicator.


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Which hotels inspire you? I remember walking into the lobby of the Sukhothai in Bangkok and my jaw literally dropped. It was authentic, haute style and architectural cool – sophisticated yet informal and Thai-inspired in every detail. It was cultural, spiritual and philosophical and had a sense of place. I think the whole notion of corporate hotel chains trying to manufacture cool, boutique, sub-brands is bogus. If you have to say you’re a cool hotel then you’re not.


Who do you admire in business? The early Starck/Schrager tie up radically altered the hotel landscape. I have a great respect for anyone who has the courage and confi dence to create and deliver unique interiors and open independent hotels with style and energy, as I know how diffi cult it is.


How would you sum up your approach to life?


My parents sent me and my brothers to boarding schools in Africa and the UK, so we would learn to mix instead of going to a school where we knew everyone. We travelled in Asia, Africa and the Middle East when we were growing up and learned about different cultures and different cuisine. As a result, my family ‘looks different’ because we ‘think different’. I call it ‘Discovery through real life’ – start young, get out there and make mistakes whilst living.


What drives you? My wife and children, Aisha 19, Ashton 16, Maya 6 and Matthew 4. There’s no secret other than to be in love with the woman you’re sharing your life with.


LEISURE HANDBOOK 2014 167


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