Wed, 01 November 2023
Founded in 1987 by the late Swiss businessman Peter Gautschi and carrying the name meaning ‘beautiful hotels’, the Swiss-Belhotel International group continues to lead the way in the Kingdom’s hospitality industry with its numerous establishments. This month, we spoke to the company’s current Chairman and President, Gavin M. Faull, about its successes and plans for the future.
Mr. Faull purchased Swiss-Belhotel International in 1999 with his partner in Hong Kong and has successfully grown the business to 130 hotels and projects in 20 countries worldwide.
“What sets Swiss-Belhotel apart is that it was bred out of the Peninsula Group in Hong Kong, a very famous hotel group,” Mr. Faull believes. “We have a culture of passion and professionalism and also a family company because my three sons now work with me in different roles like finance, engineering and computers. In fact, we won family business awards in my native New Zealand and are also up for a similar award in Australia.”
Inspiring a global team to maintain high standards of customer service and satisfaction is no mean feat, but Mr. Faull’s management style is to frequently travel and visit the company’s regional markets and delegate to 15 vice presidents. International visits also allows for meetings and talks with various markets, and negotiations are now underway to expand a further 50-100 properties, many of which are in China.
With five hotels in Bahrain, the business is thriving, but Mr. Faull refuses to let it rest on its laurels and constantly strives to stay relevant and innovate in an increasingly competitive market.
“The core function in this industry has been the same for 2,000 years,” he explains. “Sleep, comfort, food and happiness is what everybody looks for. We develop brands which recognise and respect the environment and train our staff to maintain standards. Communication, transparency, respect, honesty and sincerity are they key facets of this and it is something I endeavour to implement daily from top-to-bottom.”
In the modern world, sustainability and responsible tourism are key cornerstones of any hospitality enterprise. Swiss-Belhotel International has been a key leader in recognising this, says Mr. Faull.
“We have developed a brand called MAUA, which is a Maori word for ‘family togetherness’. The concept actually originates from my dairy farming operation. We’ve just opened our first hotel in an island off Bali, Indonesia, and we’re focusing on sustainability to ensure that everything we use is recycled, and that we grow our own vegetables. Fauna is part of our structure and that’s a concept as much as a natural way of life. We have to be more responsible and foster sustainability but as well as doing this through education, I want to have sustainable practices by action rather than just by advertising or words.”
As for the future, Mr. Faull details further developments in the Middle East, Vietnam, Kenya and particularly China, and has set a goal of operating 500 hotels by 2030.
“The biggest restriction is probably our physical resources of people, and of course finances to handle expansion,” he says. “However, as long as it is exciting and engaging I don’t see myself retiring and it is definitely keeping me busy!”