Michael Robinson: Being A Luxury Hotelier Means Creating And Preserving

Interviewing Mr. Michael Robinson, General Manager of the storied Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort who trades spreadsheets for sundowners and board meetings for boat rides along the Chao Phraya River was a privilege of Wanderlust Tips Magazine. Discover the secrets to his success and the pearls of hidden knowledge he has amassed along the way as we follow his career’s meandering route from modest beginnings to assuming the helm of this Thai paradise.

Exuding a quiet charisma honed from years of navigating the world of luxury hospitality, Mr. Robinson’s journey is a tapestry woven with equal parts determination, serendipity, and a genuine love for connecting people with unforgettable experiences. His path winds from the sun-kissed shores of Australia to the vibrant streets of Thailand, each chapter adding a unique thread to the rich narrative of his career.

Have a nice day, Mr. Michael Robinson. Can you introduce yourself to our readers?

Hello everyone, I’m Michael Robinson, General Manager of Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort. With over 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry, I’ve had the pleasure of leading teams and delivering exceptional guest experiences across various luxury hotels and destinations. I’m deeply passionate about providing unparalleled service, fostering sustainability, and creating memorable moments for every guest who walks through our doors. It’s a privilege to be a part of the Anantara family and to hopefully have the opportunity to welcome some of your readers to our resort. 

From New Zealand to the Chao Phraya River: Can you tell us about your journey to becoming General Manager of the Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort? What were some defining moments that shaped your path?

My journey to becoming the General Manager of the Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort has been an incredible adventure filled with diverse experiences and defining moments.

It all began in New Zealand at a young age, where my passion for hospitality was ignited. I started my career working in various roles within the industry with the first being a steward in a fine dining restaurant. Along the way I gained invaluable hands-on experience and learned the importance of attention to detail and customer service. One defining moment was when I decided to pursue further education in hospitality management. This decision opened doors to new opportunities and allowed me to expand my knowledge and skills in the field. I choose to cross the ditch and study at the International College of Hotel Management (ICHM) in Adelaide Australia. 

Another pivotal moment was when I had the opportunity to work in different countries, including the USA, Dubai, Qatar, Vietnam, Cambodia and now Thailand. Immersing myself in different cultures not only broadened my perspective but also deepened my understanding of the global hospitality industry. Finally, being appointed as the General Manager of the Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort was a culmination of years of hard work, dedication, and perseverance. It’s a role that I cherish deeply, as it allows me to lead a talented team and create unforgettable experiences for our guests. 

Across continents and cultures, what lessons have you learned that you now apply to lead this iconic Bangkok resort? What does being a “luxury hotelier” mean to you in today’s fast-paced travel landscape?

Leading an iconic Bangkok resort like Anantara Riverside requires a deep understanding of diverse cultures, a commitment to excellence, and a keen awareness of the evolving landscape of luxury hospitality.

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned across continents and cultures is the significance of adaptability and cultural sensitivity. Each region has its own unique customs, preferences, and expectations, and it’s essential to respect and embrace these differences. By fostering a culture of inclusivity and understanding, we can better connect with our guests and create experiences that resonate with them on a personal level.

Another key lesson is the importance of continuous innovation and staying ahead of industry trends. In today’s fast-paced travel landscape, guests are seeking more than just luxurious accommodations; they crave immersive experiences and personalized service. As a luxury hotelier, it’s essential to anticipate and exceed these expectations by offering unique amenities, curated experiences, and exceptional service tailored to each guest’s preferences.

Being a luxury hotelier in today’s landscape means prioritizing authenticity, sustainability, and meaningful connections. Guests are increasingly seeking experiences that align with their values, whether it’s supporting local communities, minimizing environmental impact, or embracing cultural heritage. By integrating these values into our operations and guest experiences, we can not only meet but exceed the expectations of today’s discerning travelers.

Ultimately, being a luxury hotelier is about creating moments of magic and delight that leave a lasting impression on our guests. It’s about going above and beyond to anticipate their needs, exceed their expectations, and create memories that they will cherish for a lifetime. Through a combination of innovation, cultural sensitivity, and a commitment to excellence, we can continue to elevate the guest experience and set new standards of luxury in the dynamic world of hospitality.

The resort embodies a unique blend of urban luxury and riverside serenity. How do you strike this balance for guests at Anantara Riverside?

Balancing urban luxury with riverside serenity at Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort is both an art and a science. We achieve this delicate equilibrium by meticulously curating every aspect of the guest experience, from the design of our facilities to the personalized services we offer.

Firstly, our resort’s location along the Chao Phraya River provides a natural backdrop of tranquility amidst the bustling urban landscape of Bangkok. We capitalize on this unique setting by incorporating elements of nature into our design, such as lush gardens, waterfront dining venues, and serene outdoor spaces. Guests can escape the hustle and bustle of the city and immerse themselves in the peaceful ambiance of riverside living. At the same time, we ensure that our guests have access to all the modern luxuries and conveniences they expect from a five-star urban resort. Our beautifully appointed rooms and suites offer contemporary elegance and comfort, while our world-class amenities cater to every need and desire. From indulgent spa treatments, state of the art wellness facilities to gourmet dining experiences, we provide a seamless blend of luxury and sophistication against the backdrop of riverside serenity.

Additionally, we offer a variety of activities and experiences that allow guests to engage with both the urban and natural elements of our surroundings. Whether it’s exploring the vibrant street markets of Bangkok or embarking on a sunset cruise along the river, we provide opportunities for guests to immerse themselves in the local culture while still enjoying the tranquility of our riverside oasis. Striking the balance between urban luxury and riverside serenity at Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort requires a thoughtful approach that celebrates the best of both worlds. By seamlessly integrating the natural beauty of our surroundings with the modern comforts of urban living, we create an unforgettable experience that appeals to discerning travelers seeking the perfect blend of relaxation and indulgence.

From ancient temples to Michelin-starred cuisine, Bangkok offers a vibrant tapestry of experiences. How does the resort help guests navigate the city and curate their own adventure?

At Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort, we recognize that Bangkok’s vibrant tapestry of experiences can be overwhelming for guests, especially first-time visitors. That’s why we take great pride in offering curated experiences and personalized assistance to help our guests navigate the city and create their own unforgettable adventures.

One way we assist guests is through our dedicated concierge service, staffed by knowledgeable and passionate local experts. Our concierge team is always on hand to provide insider recommendations, insider tips, and personalized itineraries tailored to each guest’s interests and preferences. Whether guests are interested in exploring ancient temples, sampling Michelin-starred cuisine, or discovering hidden gems off the beaten path, our concierge team can offer invaluable guidance and assistance every step of the way.

Additionally, we offer a variety of curated experiences and tours designed to showcase the best of Bangkok’s culture, cuisine, and attractions. From guided temple tours to our very own Klong Guru tour, we provide guests with unique opportunities to immerse themselves in the city’s rich heritage and vibrant culinary scene. Our resort also offers convenient transportation options, including shuttle boat services and private transfers, to help guests explore the city with ease and convenience. Furthermore, we leverage our partnerships with local businesses, tour operators, and cultural institutions to offer exclusive access and special privileges to our guests. Whether it’s securing reservations at the hottest restaurants in town or arranging VIP access to cultural events and attractions, we go above and beyond to ensure that our guests have unforgettable experiences that they will cherish for a lifetime.

What makes Anantara Riverside stand out within the competitive Bangkok luxury resort market? What are the resort’s hidden gems or secret experiences that surprise guests?

Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort stands out within the competitive Bangkok luxury resort market for several reasons, each contributing to its unique appeal and charm.

Riverside Oasis: The resort’s stunning location along the banks of the Chao Phraya River offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok. Guests can enjoy breathtaking views of the river and lush gardens while still being within easy reach of the city’s attractions and entertainment districts.

Authentic Thai Hospitality: Anantara is renowned for its genuine hospitality and commitment to delivering authentic Thai experiences. From warm smiles to personalized service, every interaction with our staff reflects the genuine warmth and hospitality for which Thailand is famous.

Diverse Dining Options: The resort boasts an impressive array of dining options, from humble Italian, modern Chinese, teppanyaki, to an elaborate buffet with Thai Cultural show. Guests can embark on a culinary journey through Thailand’s diverse flavors without ever leaving the resort. And if that is not enough, our Manohra dining cruises offer a 6 course degustation menu showcasing Royal Thai cuisine while you cruise along the river of kings. 

World-Class Amenities: Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort offers a wealth of world-class amenities, including a luxurious spa, state-of-the-art fitness center, and expansive swimming pool complex. Not to mention our step into the wellness sector with our BDMS Wellness Retreat in which we specialize in preventive care. Whether guests are looking to relax and unwind or stay active and energized, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

As for hidden gems and secret experiences, the resort offers a variety of surprises to delight guests:

Private Dining by Design experiences: Guests can enjoy intimate meals in secluded locations throughout the resort, including private riverside pavilions and romantic dinner cruises along the Chao Phraya River.

Thai Cooking Classes: For those looking to immerse themselves in Thai culture, the resort offers hands-on cooking classes where guests can learn to prepare traditional Thai dishes under the guidance of expert chefs.

Sustainable tourism is a growing focus. How is Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort innovating to minimize its environmental impact while still delivering an exceptional guest experience?

Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort is committed to sustainability and minimizing its environmental impact while still delivering an exceptional guest experience. We understand that responsible tourism practices are essential for preserving the natural beauty and cultural heritage of our destination for future generations. Here are some ways in which we are innovating to achieve this:

Green Initiatives: We have implemented a range of green initiatives throughout the resort to reduce energy consumption, minimize waste, and conserve water. This includes energy-efficient lighting, an on site wastewater treatment plant, and water-saving fixtures in guest rooms and public areas.

Waste Management: We are committed to reducing waste and promoting recycling at every level of our operations. We have recently collaborated with Oceans For All organization and AXA Insurance to bring its “Licence To Clean” (LTC) initiative with the introduction of “LTC004,” an eco-friendly catamaran crafted entirely from 100% recyclable materials. LTC004 is poised to tackle plastic pollution on the Chao Phraya Rivers, mirroring the success of its predecessors in Phuket.

Sustainable Sourcing: We prioritize sourcing local and sustainable products for our restaurants, spa, and other amenities. This not only supports local producers and reduces carbon emissions associated with transportation but also ensures that our guests have access to fresh, high-quality ingredients and authentic experiences.

Community Engagement: We actively engage with the local community through partnerships, outreach programs, and philanthropic initiatives. This includes supporting local charities, providing vocational training and employment opportunities for marginalized groups, and promoting cultural heritage preservation projects.

Education and Awareness: We believe in the power of education and awareness to drive positive change. We offer educational programs and activities for guests, staff, and the local community to raise awareness about environmental issues and promote sustainable living practices.

Sustainability is integrated into every aspect of our operations, from design and construction to daily management and guest experiences. By embracing innovation and collaboration, we are proud to try and lead the way in sustainable tourism practices while delivering exceptional experiences that leave a positive impact on our guests, the environment, and the local community.

Thai hospitality is renowned for its warmth and genuine care. How does Anantara Riverside ensure its team embodies this cultural spirit of service?

At Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort, ensuring that our team embodies the cultural spirit of Thai hospitality is paramount to delivering exceptional guest experiences. We cultivate a culture of warmth, genuine care, and genuine service through several key initiatives:

Training and Development: We invest in comprehensive training and development programs to equip our team members with the skills, knowledge, and mindset needed to deliver exceptional service. This includes training in traditional Thai hospitality practices, interpersonal communication, cultural awareness, and problem-solving.

Empowerment and Autonomy: We empower our team members to take ownership of their roles and make decisions that prioritize the needs and preferences of our guests. This autonomy fosters a sense of pride, accountability, and initiative among our team members, leading to more meaningful and personalized guest interactions.

Recognition and Appreciation: We recognize and appreciate the hard work and dedication of our team members through regular feedback, performance evaluations, and rewards and recognition programs. By acknowledging their contributions and celebrating their achievements, we foster a positive and supportive work environment that motivates our team members to excel in their roles.

Continuous Improvement: We are committed to continuous improvement and feedback-driven growth. We actively solicit feedback from both guests and team members to identify areas for improvement and implement solutions that enhance the guest experience and support our team members in delivering exceptional service.

Cultural Immersion: We provide opportunities for our team members to immerse themselves in Thai culture and heritage through cultural workshops, language classes, and experiential learning activities. This deepens their understanding of Thai hospitality traditions and enables them to authentically embody the cultural spirit of service in their interactions with guests.

Looking ahead, what are your aspirations for Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort and your own journey in the world of luxury hospitality?

In the future, my goal is to propel Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort to greater heights, emphasizing sustainability, innovation, and community involvement. Personally, I’m dedicated to ongoing growth, effective leadership, and leaving a lasting mark of distinction in luxury hospitality. In 2024, our focus will intensify on sustainability and wellness, aiming to redefine the guest experience by not only providing luxury but also promoting a shift in mindset towards health, wellness, and environmental consciousness.

Watch for the next chapters of our interview series, which will update you on a range of top-notch travel and inspiring stories.

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