Interview with General Manager Mr. John Woolley
The Ritz-Carlton Bali,
January 2021
The Balinese believe in the "incarnation" of the tourism industry and look forward to the lifting of entry ban on foreigners. Tourism plays an important role in Bali's economy, with 80% of the island's population engaged in the industry in one way or another. Currently, the average occupancy rate of Bali hotels is about 20%; the economy is being maintained thanks to domestic tourism. I suggest we discuss this issue with the General Manager of The Ritz-Carlton, Bali Mr. John Woolley.
Good afternoon John! first of all, I would like to thank you for your warm welcome and your time, so, if you don't mind, I'll ask you some questions about your hotel and your work.
Good afternoon, Lana. It is my pleasure to spend some time on this lovely afternoon. Thank you for staying with us, first of all. We really appreciate it.

John, could you please tell me about your career development? How did you become the General Manager of The Ritz-Carlton, Bali?
- I have been fortunate to live and work in Bali for a few years now, and I joined The Ritz-Carlton last year. Frankly, I was not expecting to move to Bali. I have worked with Marriott International (Ritz-Carlton's parent company) for over 20 years in different locations. An opportunity at the Courtyard Seminyak opened up, and I thought: why not? So I moved to Bali 5 years ago; in early 2021, I transferred to The Ritz-Carlton Bali as General Manager – what a contrast to work in hustling-bustling Seminyak and now this serene tranquil Nusa Dua area.
Bali – the famed island of Gods – is a very special place with rich cultural and historical heritage. How do you manage the different cultural backgrounds and beliefs within the hotel management strategy?
It is not as difficult as one would think. I would say that you have to enter a new country with humility. One of my bosses has a saying that has resonated throughout my career; "go in like a lamb, and leave like a lion" – so one goes in asking a lot of questions and understanding how everybody operates, and then you learn. I have been so pleasantly surprised by how tolerant Indonesian people are, so whatever religion, race, creed you are, people just get on phenomenally well. I'd say, the one thing that one has to figure out are all the public holidays: every religion has a different holiday. The first year you operate a hotel it is just mind-boggling how many public holidays one needs to navigate.

The Ritz-Carlton is famous for its customer service standards known as Gold Standards. How do you implement those fundamental values in Bali?
The Gold Standards are part of The Ritz-Carlton Credo. To me the most powerful part is what we call the motto; "Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen". That gives our employees – we call them Ladies and Gentlemen – confidence about how they interact with guests, and every single day as we start our shifts we gather around to focus on one particular service value, reading out what we call "Committement to Quality (CTQ)". There's 12 service values. We review one element of the Credo every day, and that way it's just engrained in us – we memorize the service values, we know them, and we execute them. And have a little bit of fun doing it as well.

Following the new restriction policies and current world situation – how, do you think, is the travel and hospitality industry going to be transformed in the forthcoming years?
Well, for us, at The Ritz-Carlton, Bali – and you know we're set on of 13 hectares of gorgeous space here, which you can see – we find that guests are really looking for an experience right now. Perhaps they have been in lockdown in some city where it has been raining for several months, so customers are certainly looking for an experience. Here at The Ritz-Carlton, Bali we can easily do natural social distancing – there's so much space that you can find a certain activity like having bonfire on the beach where you can relax with your kids, our chef will come and cook a private barbeque for that – super-popular with our quests.

And how many restaurants do you have at the hotel?
We have 6. Ranging from The Beach Grill and Breezes Tapas Lounge at the beachfront, The Ritz-Carlton Lounge & Bar and Senses at the heart of the resort, Bejana and Raku on the cliffside.

And now, during this situation?
We are currently operating three to four outlets. This number is adjusted depending on the occupancy of the resort. These outlets are:
The Beach Grill restaurant features a choice of stylish indoor seating, offering unrestricted views over the beach and ocean, seating under shaded walkway and sofa-style seating on the lush lawn directly adjacent to the beach. It is open for lunch, dinner and drinks. Sophisticated with a light and airy open design and spectacular views, it's also the perfect spot for afternoon drinks or sunset cocktails.
Senses restaurant is the delightful breakfast restaurant that offers an extensive menu, including a wide-reaching international breakfast buffet featuring a variety of different food stalls, ranging from Western, Chinese, Japanese and Indonesian offerings as well as eggs plus healthy options and a special kids corner. With indoor and outdoor seating, including a gazebo for a more intimate breakfast.
The Ritz-Carlton Lounge & Bar located above Senses, is an all-day venue serving drinks, light bites and the famous Ritz-Carlton afternoon tea. As the evening draws in, it magically transforms into an enchanting spot to enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail or nightcap.
While Bejana our signature Indonesian restaurant open occasionally every Friday presenting the best Babi Guling (suckling pig) in town on a special Balinese buffet dinner.
What actions should be taken in the industry to help clients not to be frightened of travelling and have willingness to explore new destinations like Bali, Indonesia? What was the profile of the frequent The Ritz-Carlton Bali guests before and how do you expect it to be in this new future?

So your first question about making people at ease – I would say cleanliness now is the new amenity. So before, perhaps, you walked into a room and you would see a welcoming bowl of fruit – well, you should still have that, but there also needs to be this cleanliness. Where the guests should have no doubt that your hotel is clean and inspected. Providing a sanitazion kit in the room to keep the cleanliness and hygiene as the new amenity in the room is one of the actions implemented at The Ritz-Carlton, Bali. In addition, hotels and other tourist facilities should also run through a comprehensive health and safety certification following the standard from local government to ensure that its all applied and build the confidence for travelers to come to Bali, especially those International travelers.
In terms of the customer profile: what we've seen here in Bali – because the borders have been shut – is that there used to be 10% domestic tourism and 90% international. It's flip-flopped. Now we're 90% domestic and 10% international. That's a significant change for us, and we are adapting our services and facilities to cater the domestic travelers.
What was the most difficult challenge you had to face during your career or maybe working at this resort?
This current situation has been a bit of a challenge. I think that the pandemic has been a challenge for everybody, mainly because of the uncertainty and the fact that you just don't know when everything's will return to normal. Well, personally I feel optimistic and I think the worst is over. We just don't know where that finish line is.

Maybe you can tell us about your best souvenir at The Ritz-Carlton, Bali?
My best souvenir is something that I see, that I touch, that I feel – I'm looking at these gorgeous trees around me – if I walk around this resort at, let's say, 6 o'clock in the morning, or at dusk, nature is the real guest of this resort. It is just an absolute treat, so that's the souvenir I will take with me.
Wow, wonderful! And the question about the events. The territory is so huge. Do you organize weddings here, for instance?
We absolutely do, we have a gorgeous wedding chapel. You know, in a normal year we would do almost 500 weddings here, at The Ritz-Carlton Bali, from small gatherings to up to 500 people. We also hold meetings, we have some gorgeous indoor and outdoor space, we have many activities for people who enjoy sports – the yoga program here is absolutely phenomenal, from sunrise yoga by the beach to a fun fly-high yoga at the yoga studio.

And what is your dream with respect to 2021, this new year? Do you have any expectations or feeling as to the way it will go?
My biggest hope is we can say "bye-bye Covid." And we can travel again, return to greeting people, living our normal lives, spending time with each other, being close to each other – that's my humble wish.

That's great. John, thank you so much for this interview, I wish you good luck, I hope that everything will be fine in travel industry and that we will be able to develop our partnership as well, and bring you new clients this year.
I look forward to that, Lana.

Thank you!
You're welcome.

©️ 2021 Affinity Concept. Interviewer Lana Steux. All rights reserved.
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To join the club, please direct your questions or requests by email or by direct line.
We will deal with your inquiry as efficiently and quickly as possible.
FR tel. : +33 6 65 34 15 70
RU tel.: +7 916 630 08 53

36, rue d'Antibes, 06400, Cannes
French Riviera – Monaco – Paris – Courchevel – Moscow – London – Geneva