Managing a luxury hotel in Hanoi
WILD GEESE: Philip Jones, general manager, Mövenpick Hotel, Vietnam: A graduate set off for the US as our boom was starting. He wound up in Dubai and Vietnam
As the economic slowdown bites, the Vietnamese economy faces its most challenging period since 1999, but the south-east Asian nation’s emergence as oneof the region’s “tiger” economies remains one of the great development success stories of the past 20 years.
It is set to remain an exciting and challenging place to be in coming years, and one man well-placed to witness the transformation is Philip Jones, general manager of the luxury Mövenpick Hotel in downtown Hanoi, capital of Vietnam.
"Coming to Vietnam I thought, ‘wow, I’ve got the opportunity to see a country really emerge, as it’s undergoing so much change and development, coming out of the shadows as it were,” said Jones (37). He comes from Celbridge in Kildare and went to school at King’s Hospital, then completed his A-levels in England.
Jones then began a four-year programme at Cert, graduating in hotel and hospitality management in 1998. “When I left Ireland, it was 1998. Things were really starting to boom. Friends were buying homes, and there was still great hope and opportunity in Ireland.
“But I kind of took the view that, having been very frugal going through school, and having the money to buy a house. I saw my life getting sucked into a mortgage at the age of 23 and probably not seeing much more of the world,” he said.
While studying at Cert, Jones had worked at Barberstown House in Kildare, but felt he needed to go overseas to broaden his horizons.
“Someone said to me: ‘you people working in small hotels, that’s all you’ll ever be good at’, and I remember taking a little offence and saying ‘I’ll take great delight in proving you wrong one day.’ Two weeks later I was on a plane to the States.”
He landed at the Ritz-Carlton in Philadelphia, where he started as desk manager and worked in a variety of roles.
He worked with Ritz-Carlton all over the US, including Kansas City, Washington DC, Boston, Reynolds Plantation in Georgia, South Beach and Atlanta, where he still has a home.
In November 2008, he moved to Dubai with Ritz-Carlton, and his time there included stints as resort manager at the Madinat Jumeirah and the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray on the artificial island, Palm Jumeirah. He left Dubai and Ritz-Carlton last year and, since January, has been general manager at the Hanoi Mövenpick.