--By Gaurav Aryal
Hotel Yak and Yeti
Philippe Belhay is the recently appointed general manager of Hotel Yak and Yeti, a five star hotel well known for its exotic history and luxury services. Since his appointment to the post three months back, Belhay has been planning and putting all his professional skills for achieving new heights for the hotel. He is confident to make the hotel, the best in the entire South Asia region by next year. To materialize this vision, Belhay has been working on renovating hotel space and innovating its hospitality. The hotel has recently revamped its interiors and rooms. Along with that hotel is planning to change the way services—right from picking up clients from the airport until the customer leaves Nepal— are offered.
Attracting more Eyes
Belhay believes in providing customized services. Elaborating on the innovation he is trying to bring in the hotel’s hospitality standards, he explains they try to understand the background and preference of the customers while offering services. He explains this with the example offering meat dishes. Halal meat,he said, should be offered to Muslimcustomers and kosher meat to Jews. Along with this he says that small room service details such as fitting hose in toilets, among others are responded to immediately. Belhay opines that these seemingly small details in customer will help the hotel in winning hearts of its clients.
Another instance to reflect the hotel’s hospitality is the way guest are escorted to hotel from the airport. Theyare offered towel, chilled drinking water, newspaper in their local language and music of their choice. He says such services with personal touch help in building good rapport with the customers.
Along with that, he says having multilingual staff, and amenities suitable for organising various programmes, seminars and events will largely benefit the hotelto become a market leader. “Our hospitality approach that begins right from airport, our good food, our good products andour consistent efforts to understand the needs of our guests and cater to them is definitely attracting a lot of eyes here,” says Belhay.
He believes that these elements are important to attract more tourists in the country rather than just to a particular hotel. He claims to have seen politicians and investors understanding the potential Nepal have for tourism. He suggests setting objectives and making corresponding plans to put international standards in each element of the tourism industry and for being ready to welcome more customers. “Put excellent products and services in each hotels rather than just one. We need all hotels to be of equally high quality in Nepal. They can perform well and all of them deserve the chance to put up their best,” says Belhay. Moreover, he adds that Yak and Yeti would like to compete with the best international hotel brands and the best quality services they offer.
Blending the Expertise with Heritage
He feels that his work has been made a lot easier by the warm hospitality of Nepali people. “You can build a billion dollar business, hotel or a real estate but you cannot buy the warmth of people. Whether they have it or they don’t have it,” opines Belhay.
He thinks that he can add value to hotel Yak and Yeti that has its own history and a character, by improving the technicality and standards of the services offered. “Staff and management of the hotel are willing to improvise services and hospitality. We have the determination, warmth and the ‘yes we can do’ attitude. I can provide the technicalities and essentialities to offer the best services,” Belhay says while expressing confidence in his team.
He is confident of removing dependence on Indian and Chinese tourists and extend the hotel’s services to European and American tourists as well. “With my expertise, I will make sure that this hoteltargets worldwide clients. Looking at the statistics, we know thousands of Americans, Germans or Europeans have come here and many more can be brought here for holidays,” he says, “With the technicality of sales and marketing, where I can add value to, we will target worldwide tourists.”
Varying the Palate
Nepali hotels are quite conservative about serving food, thinks Belhay. He says that all the hotels serve similar food – Nepali and Indian – with lacking balance. He says that a hotel must take clues by listening to customers. “We must listen and react. We should not be arrogant,” states Belhay. Thus, he has recently introduced a new buffet menu where international flavour is served in four different corners of Sunrise Restaurant. According to Belhay one corner is for continental, one for Asian that includes Indian, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi and Nepali, one for Arabic food and one for Italian food. He has also introduced a whole lamb roast infused with organically grown and handpicked aromatic herbs for the first time in Nepal in the hotels Saturday brunch.
Belhay has worked seven days a week in the first three months at Yak and Yeti. He believes in working on the floor with his staff, meeting guests and feeling the environment and business. This would help increase standard of service and maintain consistency. He greets the guests, talks to staff, inspects kitchen and makes sure everything is done right while guiding and training staff to do the things the right way. He boasts, “During these three months I have been able to increase food and beverage business and revenues from room simply by welcoming guests, meeting them personally, looking after staff, training them every day and showing them how things are done in the right way.” He keeps hotel staff at their toes and keeps them ready every time to serve clients at their best. He does not like compromising with the cleanliness and orders staff to keep the kitchen ready forbringing guests into the kitchen at anytime of the day. He believes that the entire team at the Yak and Yeti has to run at the same speed, not just a manager running ahead and other following behind him.
Similarly, an eatery has been set-up at the poolside garden under his initiative along with publicly displaying the chemical properties of the water in the swimming pool. He has also introduced a culture to invite his in-house guests to a weekly event, ‘General Manager Cocktail’. He says that this event is an excellent occasion to interact with people and customers that also help create a buzz about the hotel and its services.
Changing the Stereotype
Belhay wants to change the stereotype that five star hotels are only for foreigners visiting Nepal. So, he has started a value for money offer targeting local customers. “I want to break the image that five star hotels are expensive and are only meant for foreigners among the local customers,” Belhay says, “I love people– staff, suppliers and locals. I am attracting these people to make an image that Yak and Yeti is for all.”
Among the new initiatives started by Belhay in Yak & Yeti is an early bird dinner package that costs Rs 1000 per person and serves full international buffet including soft drinks. Same dinner costs Rs 1800 after 7:30 pm. “Bring families, loved ones, use the pool, make a day out of it and enjoy. We are not arrogant. We are approachable and we welcome everybody,” he invites. With Belhay at the helm, Yak and Yeti has already started witnessing changes in the quality of services and ambience. Time will tell whether this hotel will truly become a “jewel of Kathmandu and Asia” as Belhay promises.