Options: You have over 18 years of experience in the luxury hospitality industry and this is your first time working in Malaysia. How are you liking it so far?
Anders Dimblad: Malaysia is a beautiful country. I think you have a melting pot of cultures. As a destination, you have high-rises coupled with historical buildings while the beaches and rainforests are within reach. I go to Port Dickson a lot because I love the sea. Recently, I also took my family to Cherating and we camped by the beach. We slept under the stars — not many places in the world give you that experience these days.
What do you look for in a hotel when you are travelling?
Simplicity, comfort, cleanliness and, most importantly, location. Because I work in a luxury environment, I do not necessarily need to stay in a luxury environment. Of course, good service matters too. There will always be bigger and better hotel facilities out there but Banyan Tree lends you a sense of place, a sense of romance and a sense of being.
And that brand identity sets you apart from your competitors?
One of our key strengths is also our challenge. We are very much known as resort-centric. I would like to call Banyan Tree KL an urban resort. You can feel the warmth of the property, the smell of the essential oils and our signature touches as soon as you walk through our doors. Your mind starts to wander and relax.
What are some of your favourite cities in the world?
I love London, San Francisco and, of course, Stockholm since I am from Sweden. But I grew up in Hong Kong, so Hong Kong is home.
Can you speak Cantonese? Where would you take us if we had only 24 hours in Hong Kong?
Mm sik gong, mm sik teng (translation: Cannot speak or understand the language) [laughs]. I think everyone should see the view from The Peak. Central is pretty much the place you arrive at but take the No 6 double-decker bus to Stanley for the Sunday market. On the way back, get off at Wan Chai for a dose of culture and heritage. Taking the Star Ferry from Victoria Harbour is a must.
What are your short-term and long-term goals at Banyan Tree KL?
Both goals are pretty much the same. We are opening the Pavilion Hotel KL [managed by Banyan Tree] soon so we would like to make a mark in the market and build brand awareness. Building brand awareness is not just about ‘Oh, I know Banyan Tree’ from overseas but more like ‘I know Banyan Tree from KL and I want to go there’. There is still a misconception about hotels being expensive, and that you only go there for special occasions. We hope people will come to Banyan Tree for the value and unique experience we offer. People should feel like they can just enjoy themselves.
This interview first appeared on Oct 29, 2018 in The Edge Malaysia.