In the last seven years, Melia Yangon has set new benchmarks in hospitality, offering exceptional experiences to both locals and visitors in Myanmar. As they celebrate this remarkable milestone, we sat down with Mr. Pablo Aloy Gomez, the visionary General Manager of Melia Yangon, to reflect on the incredible journey so far.
1. What’s your day like working in a five-star hotel?
I wake up very early at 5:30 am and head to the gym. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have time to exercise as I’m busy throughout the day. I consider working out daily as the foundation of my physical and mental health. After that I go for breakfast and take this opportunity to meet my guests and check in about how they’re enjoying their stay. I usually use the prime time in the morning to schedule regular meetings with each department to make sure each head of department’s (HOD) ideas are recognized, reviewed and they feel empowered. In the afternoons I typically inspect the hotel with each HOD to ensure standards are being met and ensure the comfort of all our guests. The thing I enjoy most about working at Melia Yangon is that my days are never the same. You need a whole range of skills to be a successful hotel general manager and I love the diversity of my job.
2. What’s the lesson you learnt early in your career and still practice to this day?
Respect for others, to always remain humble and helpful to everyone, and lead by example. Maybe the most important lesson is to enjoy every single day, as it can never be repeated. Be passionate about and love what you do. Make the most of family and experiences.
3. Covid-19 and the recent political instabilities have hurt many establishments but Melia has stood strong. How did you weather the storm?
I have to say that we made the right decision from the very beginning. First, we stayed strong and kept a positive mindset. We started taking contingency measures very early on and our entire team was very supportive of each other. We stuck together. We were the first to implement a cost-saving strategy that was clearly communicated and enabled the hotel to stay in business and keep losses to a minimum.
4. How do you keep the staff motivated?
By creating a work atmosphere that prioritizes positivity and resilience. We don’t have to notice only the bad things. We should be thankful every day to God (or whomever you believe in), your family, and your work. Recognizing and showing gratitude for all the good things in our life shifts our mindset, which results in us realizing we have so much to be thankful for.
We work together all the time to solve any problems that arise and that makes the team stronger. Also, the best medicine in the world is a sense of humour. I am not the big boss, I am Pablo, one more person in the Melia Yangon family, and we often all laugh together.
5. How do you keep up with changing customer preferences and market trends?
I have to say that adversity has resulted in us being more ingenious. We brain together with the understanding that anyone can say anything, everything is welcome, and there are no crazy or stupid ideas. From the craziest ideas come the best strategies. For example, Melia was selling cakes and our reputation for pastries was very good in town. So we decided, with the owner’s support, to open a gastronomy corner under the Melia brand in Myanmar Plaza. Nowadays we are one of the best cake sellers in town! We doubled the revenue of that from Elyxr at the hotel, compared with our best year, which was 2019.
6. How do you collaborate with other departments to ensure a seamless experience for guests?
The secret is very simple. What makes Melia so special compared to other properties is our team. You have to work well with your teams and offer continuous training for professional growth. The main difference is our stellar service comes from a passion for providing the best experience possible that stems from the heart of each and every employee at Melia Yangon. It’s what we call in Melia the Spanish warmth, that is the same as the Myanmar warmth. The people of this country are simply amazing. They are warm, honest and trustworthy.
7. How do you handle guest complaints or issues to ensure they are resolved effectively?
This is part of the procedures of our Melia standards. We always make sure that all complaints are filed, carefully reviewed and followed up on immediately. Action continues to be taken until the case is fully resolved. We don’t stop until the guest expresses they are satisfied.
8. What was your first impression of the local hospitality industry when you arrived in Yangon? What’s your view today?
If I have to be honest, I am one of the luckiest general managers in Yangon. I realized that the moment I had an excellent and professional team in my hands. My predecessor did an excellent job, Ms. Céline from France. First I came here to stay for a couple of months before the new general manager was supposed to arrive but in the end he could not. After two months at the hotel, I was offered the position and I accepted. Obviously, the level of hospitality is not the same everywhere, but I’ve noticed even when people make mistakes they will try their best to make you feel comfortable at all times, even in the most local place without any training, even with a language barrier. That is the nature of the people of Myanmar.
9. Let’s talk about this beautiful establishment. What makes Melia special?
Our location. We have the best view of Inya Lake, and probably the best location in regards to being able to access the airport and downtown easily, along with the big Myanmar Plaza Mall. We have the best food and beverage reputation in town and, most importantly, the best team. That makes the difference.
10. Can you share any success stories or notable achievements of the hotel during your tenure as the general manager?
During the pandemic and following the policy of Melia Hotels International, we certified the hotel with VERITAS, making it a COVID-safe hotel. We chose not to be a quarantine hotel so that we could still welcome other guests. During that period other hotels had higher occupancies, with quarantining guests, but when COVID rates slowed down, we had the highest reputation as a safe and clean hotel. Also, we were able to achieve positive numbers in the worst year for Myanmar with COVID and the unexpected political situation in 2021. That was thanks to the measures of mitigation and new strategies of business.
11. Can you describe any sustainability initiatives or practices that the hotel follows?
The hotel is following Melia’s policy. Melia is awarded and considered one of the most sustainable hotel companies worldwide. We are contributing to recycling, separating all waste, and collaborating with a company that is paying us for those materials. We use that money for charity or staff events. We also recycle soaps, through a sanitary process with a third party, and make donations to some of the orphanages of Yangon.
We are also collaborating with the community through SISU, which is training youth during a six-month period, and then we give them the opportunity to keep on the training with us and to start working in Melia or other hotels who are also collaborating.
We have also converted all the back of the house gardens into organic gardens, with all the fruits and vegetables going to the staff canteen.
12. Can you shed light on any recent renovations or upgrades that have been done to enhance the guest experience?
One of the biggest changes in the hotel was to convert half of the sixth floor into Laguna Spa, through a partnership with a Singaporean company. It is considered one of the best spas in town. We also converted 20 Junior Suites into serviced apartments, which are almost sold out. That made our hotel increase the number of long-stay guests and also the occupancy in the hotel.
Mr. Pablo Aloy Gomez’s Career Profile
• Melia Yangon, Myanmar. General Manager
• Melia Danang, Vietnam. General Manager. Opening and operation New Phases 2 & 3 (32+72 vilas), 2 new Restaurants and 2 new Bars.
• Ohtels Vil.laromana, Spain. General Manager
• Ohtels Les Oliveres /Cap Roig, Spain. General Manager
2008 – 2012
• Riu Bellevue Park, Tunisia. General Manager
• Riu el Mansour, Tunisia. General Manager
• Barcelo Hammamet, Tunisia. General Manager. Opening
• Melia Antillas, Cuba. General Manager
• Sol Club House Cayo Guillermo, Cuba. General Manager
• Hesperia Castelldefels, Spain. General Manager
• Riu Club Gran Canarias, Spain. Resident Manager. Opening
• Riu Waikiki, Spain. Hotel Manager
• Ritz Carlton Hotel Arts, Spain. Butler Luxury Apartments